Cutscene Incompetence

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The protagonist is amazing. He can defeat hordes of monsters, perform feats of superhuman strength, solve complex puzzles no one else can, answer the most baffling riddles, and is always Just in Time for the action... that is, as long as he's being controlled by the player.

Once the Cutscene starts or the player loses even the tiniest bit of control, things tend to go south quick. The hero is far more prone to do rather boneheaded things, such as take on too many enemies at once (or just declare there are too many and give up even if it's obvious the enemy would be quite defeatable in a normal battle), get ambushed and captured, let an ally get killed, or stand around navel gazing while the bad guy escapes. Often, such things can only be resolved once the player takes command again. It's as if the main character would be Too Dumb to Live without the player's wise and guiding hand.

Particularly jarring when the character has been in the conflict for a while and doing an awful job, but immediately improves once the opening scene is done and the interface pops up.

May potentially be a necessary evil - because if the gameplay represented a soldier who is shown being unable to draw a pistol when needed during a cutscene and he does this for almost every random Mook, the game would be much harder.

The best way to gauge how bad the effect of the trope is in a given game is to ponder the question: What would have happened if the player had control throughout the whole game?[1] Because of this, many a player has likely fantasized about how they'd have handily won that Final Boss Preview if they'd been in charge during the encounter.

Cutscene Power to the Max in reverse. Subtrope of Gameplay and Story Segregation. See Stupidity Is the Only Option for the "interactive" version.

Examples of Cutscene Incompetence include:
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has Sisters Mode, in which you play as the Vampire twins Stella and Loretta Lecarde. It is actually a prologue to the main game, and reveals that the sisters were actually very powerful even before they became vampires. They can both fly, have a small window of vulnerability, Stella can attack by means of the player drawing over an enemy with the touch screen, and Loretta can rapid-fire ice crystals, which can kill even ice resistant enemies in seconds. However, at the end of their mode, when they enter Brauner's portrait, they ignore their father Eric's warnings, and Brauner ambushes them and turns them into vampires.
  • The page quote refers to Kat's sudden death in Halo: Reach, which apparently occurs because the character in question forgot to raise their armor's shields before running into a combat zone. This is, unfortunately, entirely in-character; Kat tends to focus on what's in front of her.
    • Emile's death qualifies as well. He stands and gloats with his back turned to a dropship full of the enemy's best. However, he might have just stopped caring; he did just watch many people die, including his team.
      • A few seconds before the previous point, trained Marines somehow fail to notice the Covenant dropship in question approaching. Covenant dropships are purple with glowing bits, and several of the Marines were actually looking in its direction a few seconds before it starts firing from just offscreen. The crews of two dropships Emile, and Noble Six both miss it, and the dropship Keyes is on actually has its cockpit facing in the direction it apparently came from.
  • Red Faction: Armageddon has several incredible examples of this, 'incredible' here defined as 'not credible,' as in insultingly unbelievable. In-game, Darius Mason hurls entire buildings at monsters with his Magnet Gun, he has a wealth of 'nanoforge' powers including projected shields that protect while eating away at opponents, a massive shockwave that can send a two-ton behemoth sailing hundreds and hundreds of feet, and an area-effect telekinesis wave that leaves all nearby enemies hovering helplessly. AND YET, in a late-game cutscene, he is attacked by the single weakest monster type in the entire game - the kind Darius has been slaughtering by the dozens with absolute ease except HERE it knocks him down and gets on top of him, rendering him apparently completely helpless and he, of course, immediately forgets he has that building-hurling weapon and every single one of those aforementioned powers, any of which could have saved him, instantly. Instantly. Considering that the 'climax' of this cutscene is the death of his love-interest, who gets stabbed through the back a la Starship Troopers as she attempts - IN VAIN - to save him from the single weakest monster type in the entire game, AND considering that they were left vulnerable by deciding to suddenly make out in the middle of what is basically martian hell, he deserves every last ounce of pain and guilt that will follow him for the rest of his life. For fuck's sake, Darius. For fuck's sake.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you are frozen in place for a number of cutscenes including the murder of the Emperor that happens right in front of your eyes. It's justified by the strength and swiftness of the assassins, but the fact that you are forced to stand there probably speaks to the creators' fear of you successfully intervening.
    • Later, there's another quest where you have to rescue someone who got suckered into a deadly maze. Completing the quest requires clearing the maze to get the key, and it leads back to the starting area. Immediately on return you lose control and can't do anything at all until the person you want to rescue is killed. This example reaches absurd levels if the victim gets on a staircase. His would-be killer cannot reach him there, meaning the player can never move, and you'll have to reset.
  • The grand champion of Only Idiots May Pass, EarthBound, features this in the sequence before meeting Jeff - Ness and Paula are suckered into a trap in which they're attacked by a band of zombies and KOed instantly - never mind that you can pretty easily destroy that many in one or two hits at this stage of the game, even if they're Actually Four Mooks.
  • Far Cry 2 takes this to ridiculous lengths. In game, your character is an unstoppable murder machine that routinely wipes out entire mercenary camps without any difficulty. Even without armor, you can shrug off hits from grenades, machetes, rockets and rifle fire. You're basically Brock Samson with guns. But this doesn't stop the game engine from dictating that you be surprised and defeated by a guy armed only with a single machete. Never mind that the room you're heading into screams "obvious trap" and unless you were under the control of the game engine, would probably have lobbed a few grenades into the room first. Generally speaking, the plot of the game is wildly inconsistent with what actually takes place in the game itself.
    • Don't forget surviving a mortar blast point-blank in game, then being knocked out by being stepped on in a cut-scene.
  • Golden Eye 1997 had an Egregious example as Bond, on finishing a level, is captured by two soldiers holding him up with rifles. As if he hadn't waltzed through several dozen of their comrades in the level before, as their machine gun fire repeatedly missed at short range and barely scratched his body armor.
      • And then flips it around with a second controller glitch that lets one kill any secondary characters in a cut scene. Doesn't -really- affect the action, but it is satisfying. Glitch, or just lob a time-delayed bomb ahead and step into the cutscene.
    • The Spiritual Successor Perfect Dark averts the trope in a similar scene in the beginning of the game. When Cassandra and two female bodyguards confront Joanna at the helipad, Joanna responds by simply shooting the guards and getting on the ship that had arrived to get her out of the building.
      • Played straight later on, though, when Joanna will inevitably get knocked out by an enemy and taken aboard their ship because "heavy fire" prevents her from getting aboard an escape vehicle. The mission even ends with a "missing in action" instead of "mission complete".
      • At the end of the special mission "Maian S.O.S." the player character Elvis is knocked out by a single shot from a tranquilizer (from a guy that appears seemingly out of nowhere, no less), but while actually in control of him it takes several shots for this to happen. Even worse, he has a very large window of time before that to kill him.
  • A similar scene takes place in Live-A-Live, Oersted's chapter. A bunch of soldiers run away from you in cut-scenes, and you slaughter any of their ilk that you encounter as random encounters. But venture back into town, and two of the very same soldiers will capture you without any resistance, making a Heroic Sacrifice by your Mentor necessary.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, the party has to hide in Mizuho because they are being tracked by a few armored knights... about the same number and kind that they had to fight upon entering the forest. Similarly, the very first boss in the game is perhaps easier than the first wild monsters you encounter - if you spent any time at ALL leveling up, that is - and yet after you "defeat" it, your characters are completely exhausted despite the fact that any decent player will have full health, and Kratos will have to come and rescue your sorry ass. Later, an attack by a basic Mook leaves the protagonist severely injured, despite the fact that these are common-or-garden enemies you've been fighting for hours!
  • Early in Tales of Phantasia, Cress gets knocked unconscious by a single snail, an enemy whose attacks can only merely hurt in encounters, just to wake up again in Trinicus' house (this was probably done so to avoid pinpointing the location of Mars' jail from which Cress and Mint just escaped).
  • Chrono Trigger in the cathedral in 600 AD; after defeating a large group of Naga-ettes, one will leap out and cheapshot Lucca, providing an opportunity for Frog to make a dramatic appearance and rescue. The New Game+ does this to just about the entire game.
    • Same goes for the setup for Ayla's first appearance. The party is "hopelessly outnumbered" by a party of 8 Reptites, when they'd just been able to defeat 5 of them moments before.
    • Also the brilliance when fighting King Dalton --- your characters parry his fireball, but blithely look behind them --- when King Dalton asks them to, in the middle of a fight. Cue being captured.
  • Half-Life 1: In a scripted scene, Gordon gets knocked out by a single melee attack from ambushing Marines, despite wearing power armor that can withstand point-blank shotgun blasts and psychic alien lightning bolts during gameplay. They accomplish this by attacking under cover of total darkness, using a magic light switch that can turn off not only the room light, but also Gordon's suit flashlight.
  • In The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, close to the end of the game, Link is getting the final key to get into the Hyrule castle tower. Said key is guarded by all of two lizard men and two archers. The player could just kill them and be on his merry way, but the game takes over and has Link stand perfectly still so that his "friends" can "save" him.
    • Similar to the Goldeneye example above if Link is seen by Gerudo Guards in Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask he gets captured. This is despite Link being a fully armed One-Man Army at this point and the guards themselves being incompetent at best. If the player had control he/she could probably fight them all off without too much effort.
      • It is possible to shoot the guards with arrows to knock them out.
  • In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Nightcrawler appears for one Badass cutscene, before being easily swatted aside and rendered unplayable.
  • The Smug Snake Saemon Haevarian of the Baldur's Gate series only appears in cutscenes. This is a way of enforcing Stupidity Is the Only Option and make sure that the player doesn't get a chance to kill him for his constant (supposedly) Lovable Traitor ways.
    • If the player moves fast enough, they can kill Saemon twice. The first time on the ship, he can be killed. If the player has a fast enough spellcaster in the expansion, a finger of death can reach him before he teleports. His death save isn't all that high, so only one or two reloads are sufficient to make sure he dies. Quite possible the most satisfying kills in the game.
    • Also in Baldur's Gate 2, the cutscenes often do things like ensure the capture or death of a character as necessary to advance the storyline. One particular example occurs if you romance Jaheira: You wake up after camping to find a bandit holding her captive with a dagger. You can try to talk him into taking you captive instead of her, which makes the bandit have one of his friends arrow you in the face for exactly half your HP (or, if you're wearing Stone-/ or Iron Skin, nada). This one attack will always deal half your HP and will always hit you, and once battle is joined he is just a regular archer. Jaheira does lampshade afterwards that attacks are a bit more deadly if you just stand there unresisting like a pincushion.
    • Near the end of Baldur's Gate 2 there is a scene where the player character's romantic interest is captured by one of the two main villains in the game, a vampire. There is a very good chance that this romantic interest is a cleric. If by this point the player has already visited the Watcher's Keep dungeon added in the expansion, said cleric will likely be of epic level. For whom the very idea that they would be captured, or in any way threatened by anyone undead is patently absurd. They get captured just the same. Nor is any spell that would sensibly protect them effective.
      • Including Imprisonment (using that spell to protect someone is an... unusual use to say the least, but still). A spell that teleports the target into a transdimensional prison that is quite literally impossible to get out of unless a very specific, high-level spell whose only function is to counter Imprisonment is cast exactly where the person was standing when Imprisonned. And yet, despite counterspell obviously not being cast anywhere near the kidnapping, and not one storyline enemy being strong enough to cast it, somehow the love interest gets stolen anyways. Then again, if Bodhi is willing to infiltrate an alternate plane of existence only made to imprison people away from everything, even death, she really deserves her success.
  • Metal Gear Solid: During a cutscene, Snake is spotted by a security camera and is quickly captured by the guards. Had the player been in control at that point, Snake could have easily defeated the guards, or even snuck around the camera altogether. Another instance of this is that there's a camera that's completely unavoidable even with generous usage of Chaff Grenades that forces Snake to be chased by a group of guards up an annoying set of stairs. Both were fixed in the Updated Rerelease.
    • There's a particularly irritating cutscene in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty where Raiden fights a number of flimsy, mass-production Metal Gears. On the highest skill setting, you demolish more of them than you knew existed (up to 30 on the hardest difficulty level)... then the cutscenes begin, and Raiden promptly gives up and is reduced to little more than a ragdoll until the next boss battle. The justification is that he is only human, and doesn't so much give up as run out of energy to keep running around and fighting.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater in the Virtuous Mission part of the game, while the game relies on sneaking and catching the enemy by surprise, in the cutscenes, Snake seems to prefer the method of running around waving his gun everywhere, which often leads to him getting ambushed.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has, of particular note, the elite, all-female FROGS. In-game, on the higher difficulty settings, they are wholly capable of being tough opponents. Their competence in cutscenes, however, seems to drop to bewilderingly low levels, as they are promptly massacred in almost any cutscene they're in.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Malak appears as a Duel Boss about two-thirds of the way through the game. He's easy enough to beat... until the game takes your controls away from you and cuts away to show your character being defeated.
    • What makes it all the more jarring is that KOTOR is very deliberately paced with regard to level gaining. A reasonable guess can be made as to what level the player would be at that point, and thus the developers could have made Malak sufficiently powerful to defeat the player fairly.
      • Though the experienced difficulty varies widely with the character level up choices made by the player. To the extent that the final boss can range from a virtual one turn kill to being completely Unwinnable.
    • Malak himself suffers from a reverse version of this trope in that first battle. It would be more logical for him to be vastly more powerful in game terms, but then he'd just kill you. So basically it all makes sense if you don't look at his hit points or any other number.
    • This trope is lampshaded when you are confronted outside your latest butchering ground by a police contingent which says you must surrender and stand trial. If you refuse, a But Thou Must! statement repeatedly appears saying (in bolded text) that there is no way you could possibly fight your way to the spaceport and off-planet against the entire military. This is a reasonable conclusion, but still... It makes you wonder.
    • No matter if you have a piece of equipment that would render you immune to poison, if a cutscene says you're going to get poisoned, you're going to get poisoned. This is especially Egregious in the sequel, where your character gets poisoned twice in cutscenes in rapid succession, then can, with the proper equipment, proceed to fight through a bar with a toxic atmosphere with no trouble whatsoever.
    • Likewise, the fights against dark-side Bastila. Even when your comrades get stunned, you can probably win in one or two strikes, but she will push you back and restore health fully, all while talking all kinds of smack. Actually justified because she's clinging to the hope of being unbeatable thanks to the power of the Star Forge, not her own abilities.
  • While Devil May Cry titles usually play Cutscene Power Beyond The Max, this can crop up if a particularly good player is at the reins. For example, part of getting one of the games' Bragging Rights Rewards involves pulling off a No Damage Run - and yes, it is harder to do than it looks. Immediately after a flawless battle against the first Vergil encounter in Devil May Cry 3, Dante gets beaten up as if Vergil had been holding the upper hand at along. Dante also seems to take other hits unnecessarily in cutscenes, given that the games can be completed without taking damage at all and that he has a parry-style move that briefly grants Nigh Invulnerability. An attempt to Justify (or Hand Wave) this is made after the first run-in with him as a boss fight in Devil May Cry 4, where he claims that he might have underestimated Nero's abilities.
  • Xenosaga has a slightly bizarre variant where the cutscenes make 90% of the characters totally indifferent to their comrade getting wasted right in front of them. The most Egregious case comes in the first game when the whole party stands around looking bored as Jr gets himself throttled from behind by a robot girl, about twenty inches from where they're standing at the time.
    • The third game certainly gives it a run for its money though. Early on, the party comes across T-Elos, an Evil Counterpart of KOS-MOS. After the obligatory boss fight, the cutscene commences. KOS-MOS states that T-Elos is too powerful, and offers to hold her off, knowing she'll be beaten, in order for the party to escape an otherwise certain doom. Kosy charges in, and as promised, begins losing spectacularly. The party just STANDS THERE as KOS-MOS is treated like a rag doll. One would think that if they decided to stay, they would at least help out. Yet all they do is sit there and watch everyone's favorite Robot Girl is torn apart, with Shion occasionally shouting her name whenever a nasty blow is dealt. The result is KOS-MOS almost dying. Strangely enough, later on in the game, after KOS-MOS has been rebuilt more uber than before, T-Elos shows up again and the party DOES try. Granted, they failed miserably, but one has to wonder where that team spirit was when KOS-MOS was being mutilated.
  • This happens constantly in Super Robot Wars. Look at the time when Ingram captures Kusuha. It's like he'd still capture her with just four Mooks surrounding her, probably because if the player is in control of Kusuha, she'd whip out the Guard/Iron Wall Spirit Command and lay smack down on those mooks. It would get even worse if the player upgraded Kusuha's Grungust Mk.II to maximum beforehand.
  • The Dark Forces Saga:
    • In Jedi Outcast, Kyle is forced to sneak around an Imperial base and will be arrested if a Stormtrooper manages to sound the alarm. At the start of the level, he somehow sees that "there are too many of them." At that point in the game, with his lightsaber and almost full Jedi powers, he could probably kill fifty Stormtroopers with ease (and probably won't even need the blasters, repeater gun, sniper rifle, various explosives and rocket launcher he's also lugging around). But if anyone sees him and gets to a button, you get an instant cut to his being imprisoned and a Game Over.
    • By contrast, in Jedi Academy when the player character is taken prisoner at the start of a level, (s)he surrenders when surrounded by several Elite Mooks pointing weapons at him/her that are not blockable with a lightsaber and are fast firing; in other words, the situation is actually life-threatening even in game terms. (If Jaden had third-tier core Force powers at that point, (s)he could still kill them with ease with the right moves - but (s)he doesn't.)
  • In the game of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, an entire level is made of Shelob's cave and the things that live in it. This is all well and good with smaller spiders, generic orcs and the like. A typical hack and slash game. But after you beat Shelob (a gigantic spider)... The scene where Frodo is knocked out and believed dead makes perfect sense in the movie or book. But in the cutscene of this part, Sam hides from just two Orcs. After he just slaughtered at least 40 of them in the previous levels and a huge number of spiders in the cave by his wits and swordsmanship alone. And they're just regular orcs too - no appearance from the awesome guy at the top of Cirith Ungol who can kangaroo kick people. He appears as a boss in the next level, where it's a requirement to kill at least 80 orcs by yourself, including miniboss varieties. You'd think that he'd defend Frodo's body a bit better.
  • At one point in Tales of the Abyss, the party is confronted by a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad and a couple of mooks, who demand they surrender. Despite the party having defeated said boss when they were 15-20 levels lower and having butchered their way through umpteen Random Encounters with the exact same mooks to get to that point, the party surrenders.
  • Despite generally being armed with a blistering array of weapons and capable of defeating every single villain foolish enough to cross him, Ratchet of Ratchet and Clank is routinely ambushed and robbed, captured or willing to allow his friends to be kidnapped while he looks helplessly on, often directly after defeating a boss the other bad guys were avoiding...
    • Not to mention that in Tools of Destruction, when playing the Second Quest, despite having your full complement of weapons that could easily take out the main boss while he's strutting around triumphantly in an early cut scene, Ratchet just stands there.
  • Crisis Core does this backwards and forwards. Zack is nearly unstoppable in gameplay, and one of his side missions has him fighting his way through 1000 Shinra soldiers without breaking a sweat. The opening cutscene and others have him performing similar feats (and more over the top stuff). Then Zack is hurled out of a small base if he's caught during a mandatory stealth mission.
    • Even worse is the battle with Sephiroth. With a character that is even minutely above minimum level for the fight, it is an utter cakewalk ...until the cutscene showing Zack getting his ass handed to him, to the point of total defeat at his hands, requiring completely untrained mook Cloud to beat him for you!
      • The above is arguably justified for two reasons: first, Cloud is canonically required to defeat Sephiroth, and always had the strength to do it, just not the will, and second, Sephiroth is obviously holding back in the two-stage battle against Zack. When he finally unleashes his full power, Zack doesn't stand a chance and gets his ass kicked.
  • In a memorable cutscene in Final Fantasy X, Tidus and the gang are forced to surrender when they are stopped and held up by guards as they attempt to break up Seymour and Yuna's wedding. However, in-game, such guards are relatively harmless enemies that are incapable of causing significant damage and can be disposed of in one or two attacks. It makes no sense as to why the party would view them as such a threat. A similar event also occurs in the beginning of Final Fantasy VII, in which Cloud is forced to flee from guards that are pathetically easy to defeat in battle. Interestingly, crowds are always invincible, as pathetic as the enemies in them may be.
    • He does it again when the Turks appear in the Shinra building; you've just stormed their building and beaten up half of Shinra without a hitch, but as soon as Rude and Tseng step into the same elevator as Cloud, bam, instant capture. Doesn't help that you've already handed Reno's ass to him earlier in the game, and the Turks haven't been built up to be badass enough to make this believable.
    • Adding insult to injury on the FFX example above is that your group had just plowed through several waves of Mooks to get to the spot where they are held up by the smaller group of Mooks.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has you fighting the Galbadian Soldiers throughout most of the game. They're embarrassingly weak with only basic magic and a few physical attacks, and they die in one hit assuming you've got decent Junctions. But the characters are completely inept against the same soldiers out of battle and will almost always back down if they hear those soldiers are on the scene. In one sequence at the TV Station, about a half-dozen or less Galbadians are protecting the president, and the party decides that its too dangerous to head in with all the guards. Cue Guest Star Party Member Seifer running in and taking out all the guards on his own with ease, which is how it actually ought to go. And let's not even get started on the Train Job...
  • A minor case shows up in the ending cinematic of Final Fantasy XII. The party has just beaten the crud out of a god, which of course comes with weathering the usual "destroy the battlefield" cinematic attacks. Then, during the ending movie, Fran is knocked unconscious by a few pieces of falling debris.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, events will always happen exactly as scripted regardless of how overpowered you are.
    • However, the main character does call for a phoenix down when another character gets killed in a cutscene, which makes him rather smart for a Final Fantasy character; maybe if he'd been in Final Fantasy VII he would have gotten one out when Sephiroth killed Aeris.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, Cecil & Co. defend the first of the Dark Crystals, held behind King Giott's throne room. With help, they defeat Golbez and his summoned monsters. In fact, they trounce him so badly he's reduced to a hand. After they congratulate each other for the victory, the hand comes to life and crawls towards the Crystal, and steals it. We say again: a Paladin, a Dragoon, a Master Monk, a White Mage, and a Black Mage/Summoner stand and watch as an animated hand steals the McGuffin and do nothing to stop it.
    • The DS remake handles this scene a little bit more gracefully; Golbez waits until your team is at the door, THEN announces that he's still alive, gets up (instead of doing the creepy-as-hell hand thing), dashes for the crystal and warps off with it, all in the space of 2 or 3 seconds.
  • In Persona 3, one character who regularly faces terrible monsters in battle proves totally unable to take a punch when a cutscene rolls around.
    • Plus two characters who easily withstand fireballs, lightning bolts, sword slashes, grenades, gunshots, punches from monsters ten times their height and much, much more, but can't even survive a single gunshot from the exact same gun that barely hurt them in combat while under the awesome power of the cutscene.
    • It gets worse, One of the guys that goes down to a bullet? He, with sufficient grinding, can gain a skill called 'Null Pierce' which unsurprisingly nullifies damage from 'Pierce' type attacks. Those bullets? They do Pierce Damage.
    • At another point in the game, the heroes face Aegis, who's been brainwashed and turned against them. Despite the fact that there's a 7 to 1 advantage for the heroes (4 to 1 even if we assume that in-game battle mechanics apply), and that each side's respective stats would suggest this is going to be a pretty quick and effortless (if somewhat regrettable) beatdown for the good guys, the scene suddenly fades to black as they're attacked, and one scene transition later, they're all bound and ready to hear the villain's brilliant evil plan.
  • Terminator: Future Shock ended with a cutscene in the Skynet Core. Three Terminators enter the only door out. With nowhere else to go, you hang off the walkway and just as they take aim at you, time changes and you're saved. But by that stage of the game, you're so well-armed that three Terminators aren't that much of a problem.
  • Adventure Mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Subspace Emmisary) has enemies that can't be destroyed in cutscenes even if they are relatively weak lesser minions in combat. Also as nod to their own games, without any effort an enemy manages to capture BOTH Princess Peach and Princess Zelda like they have no fighting ability. Later on without much fanfare BOTH are kidnapped. Because having Mario or Link kidnapped wouldn't work at all.
    • Also, Zelda has the ability to teleport within one of the cutscenes
  • Among its other annoyances, the game Daikatana, once you finally capture the titular weapon, has the Big Bad appear in a cutscene and announce that you can't fight him, because it's the same sword in different parts of time, and it would destroy the universe...totally ignoring that not only does the PC have enough weapons to level a small country, he has two SIDEKICKS with similar amounts of weaponry. "Will someone shoot him, please? He's pissing me off."
  • Tron 2.0 does the "captured by Mooks in a Cutscene" thing.
  • Tomb Raider 2 has Lara being knocked out by a guy with a spanner in a cutscene despite you killing (and shrugging off the blows of) many near-identical enemies over the previous few levels.
    • Tomb Raider 3 has an example that's hard to classify as either playing straight or an aversion; a level ends with you doing a daring ramp jump over a high fence on a quadbike, then the level ends as you are about to pass over and the subsequent cutscene shows Lara failing the jump miserably, knocking herself out and getting captured. This makes it Cutscene Incompetence initiated by the player.
    • Tomb Raider 5 has a cutscene in which Lara nearly falls off a ledge, grabs the edge of it in the nick of time, and... is somehow unable to pull herself up. This is the same Lara who can normally pull herself into a handstand while hanging off the side of a ledge.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, whenever a player character's HP reaches 0, the player can, if there's a nearby ally, always call for the medic. In a cutscene around halfway through the game, Isara gets shot, and ultimately dies... Even though all the rest of the main cast surrounding her never think to call Fina over. Granted, this scene was necessary for good tragedy, but...
    • What makes it worse is that, in a later cutscene this time, Alicia gets shot, the characters were quick to call for the medic.
  • In Crysis your character gets knocked out in a cutscene in a similar way to the Tomb Raider 2 cutscene above (albeit by being punched in the face rather than with a spanner). Both Crysis and Crysis: Warhead have certain cutscenes with situations that are treated as being very dangerous, despite the fact your character could resolve them in all of ten seconds with the abilities and weapons they have available in-game.
  • Parodied in this strip of Adventurers!!
    • Later on they only take a gun-using enemy character seriously when he specifically shows his gun is strong outside of cutscenes too.
  • Towards the middle of Fallout 3's main quest, you find your father being held hostage by Colonel Autumn and 2 Enclave troopers. By this point in the game, you're almost certainly a heavily armed and armored murder machine who are easily capable of slaughtering dozens of Enclave troopers. But, instead of simply letting you into the room so you can murderize Autumn and his two goons, your father sacrifices himself by flooding the room with radiation, killing the Enclave troopers and knocking Autumn unconscious. To top it off, this indirectly results in your death at the very end of the game, when you're forced to walk into the irradiated room to "face your destiny". Gee, thanks Dad.
    • The Broken Steel DLC retcons it so that you survive.
    • The Pitt DLC forces you to follow its script by confronting the player character with three typical Mad Max-wannabe Raiders just inside the city gate. It doesn't matter if the character is incredibly stealthy (or using a Stealth Boy) or has the combat skills and weapons to take down these mooks with one or two hits each - they still beat the PC up and take all of his/her stuff. You do get it back later.
      • This one is especially annoying because, in the Enclave example, you might be intimidated or afraid of endangering ol' Dad. With the Pitt Raiders, these are criminals who you literally kill all the time. By that point in the game, you would have more trouble with some animals. And to top it off, they should be diseased and cancer-stricken anyway! What's worse, to trigger this particular cutscene, you would have just killed four guards outside the damn gate who tried the same thing!
      • If you stumbled in at low level, this scene is slightly more believable. If you played through the game when it was new and then picked up The Pitt when it came out, you're very likely to be a Powered Armor-wearing man-tank with enough firepower to level the Enclave. Three raiders should barely register as a speed bump.
  • The Shotgun Wedding scene in Fallout 2. To recap, you sleep with a girl (or with her brother), her (his) father threatens you with a shotgun into wedding her(him). Never mind that you carry enough weaponry to level the entire village (or no weapons if that's your choice), have enough Hit Points to survive at worst two shotgun shots, and may even have a huge muscular tribal with a huge hammer and a mechanic with a rifle as backup.
  • Planescape: Torment has a particularly infuriating example - when entering the Lower Ward for the first time, an in-game cutscene will play where two were-rats will grab Morte without him saying a word. Why didn't the Nameless One stop this? Why, because he was talking to a clothes merchant!
    • Not to mention the end, when your party gets shredded one by one by a creature they could at least heavily damage, or in Dak'kon's case probably destroy. Oh, for a challenging end boss.
      • To be fair, while he defeats the others alone, he brings overwhelming odds against Dak'kon. Thus each separate fight is believable if we assume he could heal between them.
  • Doom 3 averts this with a number of "cutscenes" that allow the gameplay to keep continuing while an animation plays in the background, such as when Swann and Campbell try to warn Betruger over a phone to shut his project down, or when Swann and Campbell pass through the Vagary's lair on the other side of a glass barrier, and when you see Bravo Team pass you by down a corridor on another side of a glass barrier. It doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to a certain point. Even if you take your sweet time, the cutscene won't trigger until you run over some invisible tripwire.
    • To be honest, that's pretty much how it works in all games with the exception of timed missions.
  • Happens often enough in the Grand Theft Auto series. In III, Vice City and San Andreas, the main character, despite the fact that they can take assault rifle fire and even a point blank shotgun blast and still be just fine, are rendered helpless if a single cop points their handguns at them when they're knocked down or in a car. Why the main character can't just slam on the gas in the latter example is never quite touched upon.
    • A textbook example of this trope exists in San Andreas where CJ is surrounded by cops about to be arrested. Never mind the fact that there were only about 5 or so and CJ can easily take down more than twice that in normal gameplay, not to mention the 50 or so enemy gang members he just killed before the cutscene. Though to be fair most of the time he doesn't have his brother next to him struggling to stay alive from gunshot wounds.
      • Even better example: One late-game mission features CJ meeting Tenpenny and Pulaski in the middle of the desert for another typically shady deal with no witnesses. This takes place after you've rescued your brother from prison, moved the rest of your family into a comfortable new lifestyle in another state well beyond Tenpenny's reach, and can be toting not only enough firepower to level the entire tri-state area, but also a personal jetpack made with alien technology letting you jump skyscrapers in a single bound. So, naturally the opening cutscene involves CJ gunning down Tenpenny and Pulaski, and leaving them in an unmarked grave out in the desert while he rockets off into the sunset, right? No, CJ not only hands over all his weapons the moment Pulaski points a gun at him, but also digs graves for Hernandez (who was executed in cold blood in front of him) and himself, so Pulaski doesn't have to get sweaty. If it wasn't for the fact that Hernandez wasn't quite dead yet, the cutscene very likely would have led to CJ letting himself be buried in an unmarked grave, neither he nor his snazzy jetpack to ever be seen again. Fortunately, Hernandez's sacrifice ends the cutscene, allowing the player to do what should have been done right from the beginning of the mission, though by then Tenpenny has already vanished back into the digitized ether.
  • Cate Archer of No One Lives Forever is an elite government spy, stealthy and quite handy with a gun. And yet, during cutscenes, her idea of sneaking is carelessly clomping around, like Elmer Fudd trying to get the jump on the "wabbit." Inevitably, this leads to her capture. Twice. And by the same person both times.
  • "Dio"/Odie of Soul Nomad and The World Eaters is presented as a bumbling, inept joke of a sorcerer. In actual gameplay, he's fairly powerful and a valuable addition to the team.
  • Most fans complain about .hack//GU: Volume One—in which an overpowered Haseo takes on an underpowered Alkaid in the arena, but before you land the finishing blow, a cutscene is triggered in which your character whines about how powerful his opponent is and summons his avatar for help.
    • The game tries to justify this by having Alkaid during the gameplay part of the fight activate a hyper-mode, allowing her to wail on you while you sit there frozen in time. However, if you're grossly overleveled, our hero Haseo gets beaten by a flurry of attacks that each do 1-2 damage.
  • In Saints Row, just before you get to save Lyn, you get knocked out by a single hit from a baseball bat. Never mind that in game you would have just turned around and instantly shot him with your One-Hit Kill .44 Shepherd.
    • Saints Row 2 averts this trope. The player character can absorb dozens of rifle bullets and grenades even while high and drunk at the same time, kill a hundred enforcers with body armor and rifles so advanced that the U.S. military doesn't even have them, and literally ignore explosions several feet away that send cars flipping through the air. And in one mission, he is captured by the Sons of Samedi after he's so busy shooting one of his unconscious attackers to finish him off, he doesn't notice the guy running up at him and whacking him in the chin with a baseball bat. This seems like this trope if you've never been hit by an in-game baseball bat, but knocking you out of the fight for a few seconds is exactly what a baseball bat does in the game, and if you've been hit by one before this moment it's far more acceptable.
    • At least it happens to enemies, too: when you're battling Maero man-to-man, he can take several times more damage than an armored personnel carrier. During a later cutscene, you kill him with a single 9mm bullet.
  • Can happen in any sports game that allows you to simulate parts of a game or season. You can be the God of Football, with a team made up of nigh-immortals, and lose to a series of scrubs because of the number generator. Of course, the opposite can happen as well, when your team of scrubs pulls off an impossible upset that you (the player) could not have done had you actually played.
  • Not a video game, but in the old school book-based adventure Deathtrap Equalizer for the tabletop RPG Tunnels and Trolls a scenario exists where the player is faced with a sorceress wearing a Stripperific outfit and accompanied by two polar bears. If the player attempts to use offensive magic, the book tells the player that the magic doesn't work and the sorceress has noticed the attempt and she has ordered her bears to attack you. The player dies because "you have no magic to help you". However, if you attack the bears with weapons they prove tough, but not completely impossible for a competent character to defeat without magic.
  • In Samurai Warriors 1, during Yukimura Sanada's story mode, his lord Shingen Takeda will be assassinated in a cutscene by Hattori Hanzo no matter what until Shingen is unlocked; then it's possible to intercept Hanzo before the assassination takes place, unlocking Yukimura's Alternate Universe path.
    • Warriors Orochi played it even worse: there is a mission when you are saving Sun Jian from prison, wich ends with him standing behind to protect your escape from pathetic number of mooks. Later you can play this mission as Sun Jian himself. In endmission cutscene there will be two Sun Jians: one will flee and one will stay. You guessed it: the one who stayed was a real one.
  • In the Teleporter Room in Cave Story, you get curbstomped by a Giant Mook that could have been defeatable if it wasn't an NPC.
    • And when Sue gets curbstomped and dragged off by Igor in the Egg Corridor, the hero just stands there and watches. Admittedly she did say she could handle him and don't need any help, but the hero can't be that spiteful, right?
  • An early plot point in Phantasy Star II is that you need to stop Darum, a criminal, from causing trouble by rescuing his daughter Teim. So you rescue her and offer to bring her to Darum to defuse the whole situation. But since he's got enemies who might be gunning for her too, she dons a veil so they won't recognize her. Okay, fine, let's go have a loving reunion. But when you find Darum, she just walks up to him, veil still on, and since he doesn't recognize her, he demands money. She refuses instead of taking off the veil. So he gets pissed and kills her. Then he takes off her veil, realizes he's killed his own daughter, and commits suicide by explosives. In other words, two people just killed themselves over a tragic mistake while your party just stood there, not saying or doing anything that might've cleared the confusion.
    • It may have been her plan all along to commit suicide by proxy out of the shame she felt for his actions. That doesn't excuse the party for standing there and letting her, though.
  • Phantasy Star Universe keeps mentioning the main characters ignorance and self-reliance in every other cutscene... despite the fact that the game basically forces the player to operate with a team or die. Probably one of the worst examples is two cutscenes during an early boss fight. During normal play the boss is vulnerable to guns and his special moves can be easily avoided by moving one step to the left or right. During the cutscenes, the boss is immune to guns and the special attacks can't be dodged.
  • At one point in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of Underdark, you have the option to take out a large number of drow holding a formian hive in slavery, or just sneak by. If you agree to save the formians, you're treated to a cutscene of your character storming through the gates and shouting to call the enemies' attention to themselves. Not very fun if you're playing say a rogue or some other character who was hoping to rely on stealth, tactics, and maybe not taking on every enemy in the area at once.
  • After completing the Mystech tunnels early in Anachronox, you are assaulted by a cutscene with the gangster boss Detta and a couple of thugs, who proceed to demand you hand over your primary find. Your boss Grumpos insist on fighting since he really, REALLY wants to keep the rare find, but our hero Sly folds like a wet blanket, even knocking Grumpos down on his own. This of course comes back to bite everyone in the end.
    • to be fair you fight a similar brand of mook as the bodyguards Detta has with him as somewhat-competent (for mooks) opponents in the last dungeon of the game. At the point you face Detta you just beat the very first boss in the game, your very low level and only have one ally. Assuming that the bodygaurds are as strong as their mook counterparts run into later Sly and Grumpos were no where close to strong enough to beat them at this point. So in reality Sly probably made the right choice. A bigger question is why Detta claimed to need Sly and Grumpos to clear out all the monsters in the cave when his overpowered mook bodyguards could have done it easily.
  • Dragon Quest III has a fairly Egregious example. The Hero comes across his long-lost father Ortega in the depths of Zoma's Castle. Ortega is fighting a battle against a powerful monster, and seems to be holding his own, but finally runs out of MP for healing and dies. Neither the Hero nor his party considers joining the battle, providing the needed healing, or using one of their spells or items to bring Ortega back to life after he dies.
  • Geist, the guards are easily killed by the imps in cutscenes. No, these imps are not Immune to Bullets, no, they aren't remotely strong. They're by far the weakest enemies in the game, and have about as much HP as your typical Damned Bats, except without the numerical superiority. They are killed by one bullet from any gun. They can be killed with a fucking fire extinguisher for crying out loud! And yet, in the cutscenes, when guards are confronted by them, you'd think they were minibosses Immune to Bullets.
    • In fact, the fire extinguisher doesn't do any damage, it just has the game check if the target has less than 1 HP. (This is why guards don't shoot some of your possessed characters even if you spray them, because they're not suffering a health loss.) The imps are literally Zero Hit Point Wonders.
  • This video of a Let's Play for Quake IV points out that the big spider-tank takes out your fellow marines' tanks effortlessly - but you, of course, can take it out. ...Of course, the element of surprise probably had something to do with it.
    • Not to mention the fact that, by the time any player has made it through the hospital, they should be well capable of blasting a Strogg in a tank before it snags their commanding officer. Or maybe Kane just didn't like that guy much.
  • Soldier of Fortune: Payback does this in the most obnoxious way possible. Right after defeating two bosses in a row and getting the mission critical briefcase, the lights suddenly go dim and a woman runs straight up to you with a fire extinguisher and hits you, taking you down. She thanks you for doing her dirty work and strolls off with the case. All your character does is to utter "Bitch" in contempt. The game then ends on a cliffhanger. Screw you, Activision.
    • Also happens when Taylor is killed in So F 2. Mullins saw the Mook coming outside the window, but didn't try to stop him.
  • Dragon Quest VIII. Your team is captured by guards that you could probably kill with a single attack each when they're accused of killing an important religious figure. Naturally, they don't attempt to explain the actual situation at all, and let the guards throw them in a supposedly inescapable jail for the better part of a month, because... well, who knows?
    • The heroes were not fighting back because the guards were innocent... but they probably could have just ran out onto the balcony and activated their portable Global Airship. You know, the one they needed to gain access to the area they currently are in.
  • Age of Mythology. At the beginning of "Isis, Hear My Plea", two of the main heroes are taken prisoner by 6 axemen, which could have easily been taken down during gameplay.
    • Also during the campaign, you have to stop the Big Bad from opening up a gate in the Norse lands that will set free an even bigger bad. After destroying the enemies defending the battering ram, a cut scene begins and about 10 fire giants appear, chase you away, and kill one of the heroes. In game however, 3-4 heroes could easily take them down, and that isn't even counting all the soldiers you used to destroy the ram in the first place.
    • Also in "Let's Go" Gargarensis (alone) taunts Arkantos (with a small army) from behind the iron bars of a big jail fence, once you gain control of your units you can destroy the wall in less than 5–10 seconds
  • In Impossible Creatures, enemies become completely immune to damage during cutscenes. Very frustrating in mission 8, when La Pette hovers near your anti-aircraft towers for about a minute and then you spend the rest of the mission trying to kill her.
  • In Mass Effect, on Feros, you encounter mind controlled colonists in the Zhu's Hope colony; you can try not to kill them (by using special narcotic gas grenades or punching them); this works quite well and many players manage to actually not kill any colonist at all - but then, the colony's leader Fai Dan appears in a cutscene, pointing a gun at Shepard and saying that he doesn't want to kill Shepard, then shooting himself in the head. However, any decent player would have already incapaciated him with a gas grenade at that point.
    • When confronted by enemies in a cutscene, Shepard & co rarely Take Cover. The player has to do that after the shooting starts. This is doubly annoying when you see a baddy coming, take cover for the obvious fight, and then the pre-fight parley cutscene takes you back out into the open, often far enough from cover that surviving the first few moments of the fight gets chancy on harder difficulty.
      • Fortunately fixed for the most part in Mass Effect 3, where Shepard and team move to cover right before a cutscene ends, if a fight breaks out during the scene.
    • An instance occurs in the Arrival DLC, when Shepard fails to shoot an injured woman limping six feet away from him/her with a machine gun.
    • If Shepard is a Vanguard, she always forgets during cutscenes that she's able to teleport, even when it'd be really helpful. Of course, often it'd be so helpful that it'd derail the story from the other classes.
    • In Mass Effect 3, you are frequently confronted by Kai Leng, an annoying Canon Immigrant Space Ninja. Every. single. time. he appears he manages to one-up Shepard in a cutscene. Topping it off with a fight where he brings a gunship and backup and still needs a cutscene to beat Shepard. Then he sends you a message afterwards to trash talk you Xbox Live style.
      • Earlier in the game, you stand by and watch, gun drawn, while an enemy boss (Dr. Eva Core) kicks the ass of one of your team mates, even though you have a clear shot (and an assortment of powers that should drop that boss any day of the week, but Contractual Boss Immunity also seems to be in effect).
  • Done really obnoxiously in Princess Waltz. Whenever you don't win a fight, it's game over. But half the time you do win, the story immediately resumes with your character messing up, getting sucker-punched, the enemy being Made of Iron, a bunch more enemies showing up, or whatever, forcing either the use of the Dangerous Forbidden Technique or a Big Damn Heroes moment to win the day. The most frustrating example is when you beat Liessel. Having bested her after a difficult battle, she gets up and kicks your ass anyway, forcing the game's Token Mini-Moe to step in and beat Liessel. At least the aforementioned girl turns out to be a Cute Bruiser, which lessens the humiliation factor a bit.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. During gameplay, your character can take shotgun blasts at point blank and not even be slowed down, particularly if you've been investing heavily in Stamina and Fortitude. In a cutscene, one cheap shot with a baseball bat is enough to knock you unconscious, and presumably would have left you incapacitated while three Sabbat vampires tortured you to death were it not for the intervention of another character.
    • To be fair, the main character will instant-kill pretty much any non-boss character in the game with a 'cheap shot with a baseball bat' -- including vampires. Your character was probably lucky he/she didn't get dusted right there.
    • This is especially embarrassing if you play as a Tremere. Even when you're pinned to the ground, nothing should prevent you from casting Blood Purge - an area-effect spell that harms and incapacitates all the enemies around you and that you would most certainly have by that moment. You are clearly conscious when they are about to torture you and you are perfectly able to cast the spell immediately after you "rescue".
    • An even worse example is the Kuei-Jin ending. If the player should decide to join those guys, in the end, Ming-Xiao will come in with two standard Kuei-Jin guards armed with rifles and a katana, kill the prince and tell you that she'll have to get rid of you next since you're a Cainite. So you're tied onto the sarcophagus and thrown into the ocean. However, why exactly would the player, after having probably taken and survived hundreds of bullets and killed dozens of both humans and vampires, be imtimidated by two rifles and basically let the Kuei-Jin give him A Fate Worse Than Death? He didn't know of Ming-Xiaos powers to turn into a giant tentacle monster, of course, but the guards would've been easy to take out and fighting Xiao would at least have been worth a try...
      • The point for the Kuei-Jin ending is you are abandoning Kindred philosophy for theirs (purpose and all that) so while it doesn't give you a choice in the matter its reasonable you would give up voluntarily to serve a greater good.
      • Besides, you're a vampire. You don't need to breathe. After you're pushed off the pier, what's to stop you from eventually breaking free? (They may have staked you, which paralyzes a vampire, but there's nothing to indicate this.)
  • In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, if you play on easy mode you can easily defeat bosses that, according to the cut scene, your character was unable to defeat. This leads to interesting complications. You easily defeat a villain with one character, only to find the villain is unscratched and the character you controlled who won is dead.
    • Heck, fully eighty percent of the battles in Tenkaichi 2 force you to lose, even when you clearly just won, which is particularly a wall-banger, since many battles actually do make the bosses a great deal stronger than your character, proving that they can justify your canon loss somewhat if they want to. They just don't do it often enough. As it stands, Tenkaichi 2 is either the king of this trope, or some kind of duke at worst.
      • Oh that's not even the worst of it. If you ACTUALLY lose that fight? Game over. Yep. You have to win the fight - often times at seemingly impossible odds - to have the honor and glory of watching your character fall to their knees, beaten to holy hell while the villain is perfectly fine. A very back-asswards type of Losing Is The Only Option.
  • The Bouncer features a kidnapping in the opening cutscene that the three playable characters try to stop. All three of them get completely raped by the kidnappers, who they later easily beat.
  • Rebecca Chambers in the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil Zero, who seems to be capable of taking care of herself when the player controls her, but is reduced to a Damsel Scrappy who needs to be saved by Chris or Billy whenever the plot requires it. This is even more glaring in Zero, which takes place a day before the first Resident Evil, where she is more competent than she was in the original game.
    • Rebecca's Badass Decay is sometimes fan-justified because, by the point Chris meets her in Resident Evil, she has been awake for several days and her team is found dead over the course of the game. But the Resident Evil series is effectively this trope incarnate, as probably half the boss fights could be avoided if the idiot characters would just shoot the bad guys during their monologues before they inject themselves with whatever they're holding.
    • Resident Evil is an absolute god-king of this trope. Main characters being knocked out in one hit? Check. Main characters outright refusing to kill the resident Big Bad in a single shot even when there is nothing logically stopping them from doing so? Check. Main characters (often police officer) not retaliating with deadly force to bit-characters who opened fire on them first (and then often asking if they're a zombie or reasoning that they're not)? Checkmate.
  • The second Pokémon Mystery Dungeon set (Darkness/Time/Sky) has a couple of these scenes. The first occurs when the Goldfish Poop Gang Team Skull spends approximately 5 minutes describing their super-secret attack and calling it...While your team stands there and waits for the attack...Granted, the characters didn't know how strong the team's leader was, but his minions were the boss of the first dungeon, and could be killed within two or three turns! Then, it happens again after fighting Grovyle, where after finally beating him down, he turns around and knocks you out so that a supporting character can save the day. It should be noted in both cutscenes, and non-plot party members just stand there and watch, but that falls more into Lazy Backup.
  • Happens a lot in Dead to Rights: Jack Slate, who can consistently gun down literal armies of well-armed and armored mooks during gameplay, will suddenly become helpless against a reluctant novice with a pistol.
    • And helpless to save Eve from being stabbed to death (or was it shot in the head?).
  • Mother 3 has this in spades - one scene in particular stands out: When you reach the top of the mountain after you're done tripping on 'shrooms, you beat the Barrier Trio and are ready to pull the Needle. All of a sudden, saucers land, 6 Pigmasks get out, roll out a red carpet, and wait for the Masked Man to land and then one-hit KO your party. Fine, except for all this takes about 30 to 40 seconds. If Lucas had spent that time pulling the damn needle, he could've gotten it, but no, instead he sat around and watched all of the saucers land and everything.
  • Summon Night: Tears Crown (Phara's story) has a rather entertaining boss fight against your brainwashed-to-be-evil brother Noin. You and your little summon beast rather handily wipe the floor with him, only to have him knock you down in cutscene, walk forwards, and kill the King/your father. All this while there are guards at the door supposedly running to your aid.
  • Baten Kaitos Origins: This occurs several times throughout the game. The first major time is near the beginning when trying to escape Alfard, Sagi and Guillo find themselves at the sword-points of soldiers that they were (under player control) soundly and easily defeating so that Milly can come save them. It also happens every time you fight a machina arma; sometimes it would be impossible to beat, but other times you could easily have trashed the enemy.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 actually inverts this trope with the character of "Soap" MacTavish. He's an NPC for most of the game and performs a crapload of badass feats without ever screwing up. Then you play him for the last two missions and you end up getting beaten and stabbed by an old man.
  • During the intro level of the first FEAR game, the player is ambushed by Paxton Fettel, who simply pops out from behind an obstacle and swings a wooden board at your head. He moves so slowly that, had the game not taken bodily control away from you, you could easily have ducked or, better yet, started spraying him with a submachine gun. Instead, you're knocked out cold.
    • An even more blatant example. In one of the expansion packs you have taken a man prisoner. A large explosion distracts you long enough for him to make a break for it during the cutscene, while you have a gun pointed directly at him. It gets even worse, though. You regain control so quickly after the cutscene that he is still running away. There is time to empty five full clips of SMG ammo into him with no effect. Then he locks you out of a hallway with glass doors.
    • FEAR 3 has the player hit in head again, as both the Point man and Fettel.
  • Dragon Age: Every class has the ability to prevent enemy movement, with friendly fire very possible. Despite this, your character conveniently forgets to use it if a romanced Alistair is about to sacrifice himself to slay the Archdemon. Most offensive as a mage, as a specific power you might have--Force Field--allows you to stop him, disable his templar powers, and prevent any damage from coming to him all at once.
    • Also, instead of doing the sensible thing of putting a blade through its throat the moment the creature is seen, the PC encounters a talking demon-abomination in the Circle of Magi tower and allows it to have a nice little chat with him/her...and then promptly gets trapped in a long and annoying dream sequence.
    • And let's not forget that a rogue's stealth mode is instantly canceled when entering a cutscene. This is especially infuriating when you aproach a group of enemies stealthed and then enter a cutscene for the Mooks to deliver a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner (seriously, not a dialogue, just one "Arrr, you might have the intestines of our 100 other comrades spray-painted on your armor, but THIS fight against 5 generic bandits will surely end differently" line). Your stealth is gone, the cooldown timer prevents you from entering stealth again and the rest of your party is far away at a safe distance.
    • In "Leliana's Song" DLC the main character who is a badass Action Girl, is taken down with a single treacherous stab in a cutscene after having taken maybe a hundred non-treacherous stabs with swords in normal gameplay.
    • In 'Awakening', no matter how good your rogue may be, s/he'll fail to notice the giant and ominous-looking circular disc in the middle of an otherwise empty room. The whole party will walk into the room even if they're supposed to be holding their position and be put to sleep. The next time the PC wakes up there is a calm and apologetic monster experimenting on him/her and stealing his/her blood.
    • In the sequel, it has been shown that some of the characters can be quite competent even in cutscenes. For example, a Witty Hawke can throw a blade into a slaver's head during a cutscene while the slaver holds a hostage. Varric will shoot a supposed ally in the back when said ally starts turning on the group. Even so, when Grace turns on Ser Thrask and Hawke, no one bothers to take the next 3 dialogues worth of time to kill her.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, Fox is faced with the Big Bad in a cutscence and takes ten shots at him with his fire-blasting staff. He misses all ten shots. He even fails to hit the Mook that the Big Bad attempted to use as a Human Shield. This coming from an Ace Pilot, and if dialogue is an indication, a crack shot with personal weapons as well.
  • In Pathologic you at one point enter a dungeon reasonably well-armed and with a killing score comprising of dozens of thugs. Then a handfull of unarmed mooks approach you and beat you into pulp while you (the Player) watch helplessly.
  • Any Star Wars game that follows the movies, allowing the player to plow through enemies but still get captured and/or defeated as required, for example having the player verse Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back and defeat him in gameplay, only to have him cut off Luke's hand in a cutscene.
  • Inverted in Call of Duty and many other games, where there are many "locked" doors that are only opened by NPCs during cutscenes or scripted events.
  • In the cutscene before the final battle in Syphon Filter 2, the otherwise fully-armored Chance's head is exposed, and he isn't shown donning the helmet either. Our crackshot heroes are too incompetent to headshot him. Similarly, Girdeux in the first game has his mask off in the cutscene before you fight him.
    • Happens again in the after-credits epilogue of Logan's Shadow, where Gabe stupidly gets gunned down by Trinidad. He had a clear window to shoot her first.
  • At the end of Apocalypse, after defeating the Four Horsemen, Trey encounters the Big Bad and draws his weapon, but hesitates, and the Big Bad blasts him with a lightning bolt. And then Trey was a demon. The End.
  • While Stupidity Is the Only Option crops up frequently in World of Warcraft, there are also times where the player, despite their skill and power giving them the edge, are forced to allow certain events to occur. Characters are stunned, the enemy is not targetable, an attack insta-kills despite all the abilities countering it. If Blizzard wants you to see a certain game event take place a certain way, you can't do anything about it.
    • Certain classes have magical powers that make resurrection from the dead even more trivial. However, if a character, no matter how powerful, needs to die for story reasons, their death will be considered permanent (assuming you're not Fighting a Shadow and the character isn't Faking the Dead). For example, Garrosh Hellscream's father, Grom, was killed during the events of Warcraft III. Lore dictates that he will never show up in Orgrimmar, alive, and say "What? I got a rez." Even though there are in-game events in which someone is brought back to life by NPCs and players alike, everyone just forgets about it when it would be convenient. There is no Word of God explanation for this discrepancy.
      • Similarly there are a countless number of quests that involve healing a wounded,poisoned, or sick NPC. The player may have a dedicated healer that can bring the most powerful of heroic tanks from 1% health to full power in seconds, and yet they can't heal the orphan kid that tripped and sprained his ankle without a long quest chain. An argument may be made that the NPCs who suffer from sickness or poison are affected by obscure poisons the PC doesn't know how to heal, but this doesn't justify the countless wounded NPCs that either need to be saved by someone else or die after speaking to you while you don't lift a finger to heal them.
      • This overlaps with gameplay and story segregation. There would be no tension if in lore people could be resurrected so easily.
    • Perhaps one of the most aggravating (and most tragic) for some players in the original game was the difficult escort of Taelen Fordring out of Hearthglen. After fighting through dense clusters of elite mobs and nearing safety, the players have no choice but to watch him be killed at the climax of the quest.
    • Cataclysm, with its more proactive storytelling, brings several annoyingly semi-justified instances. It's not that much of a stretch that you'd be unable to do anything but go down with the others onboard when your ship is attacked by a humongous kraken... except that you may well be sitting on a flying mount when the cutscene starts, and could easily be thirty meters up in the air in a matter of seconds. And sure, an endless stream of Mooks of your own level would be too much for anyone eventually, but it doesn't feel fair when this is represented by them stunning and grabbing you when you're still at something like 85% health. And an ogre feinting and then grabbing you in his huge hands when your guard is down and threatening to drop you to your death from the airship makes some sense, but you'd think a character who may by then have defeated several Evil Overlords personally would be able to do something... (At least the dungeon Throne of the Tides gives the satisfying chance to both save a character who's kept on saving you, and to grow giant-sized to easily kill that damn kraken.)
    • And speaking of Cataclysm, let's not forget Uldum and the Harrison Jones questlines. The most implausible would be Schnottz, our World of Warcraft parody of a Nazi leader, getting ready to kill you with a rocket gun. Now this troper completed Mount Hyjal and Deepholm before going to Uldum. So is the game telling me that my Priestess can help Cenarius banish Ragnaros back to the Firelands and earn the trust of the stone giants of Deepholm while helping restore the World Pillar to its rightful place to seal the rift between Deepholm and Azeroth, yet she can't stand up to one little goblin with his gun and has to cower like a wimp until Harrison Jones swoops in and saves her?
      • While that is mildly annoying, it's supposed to be funny. The reverse of an escort quest, where you are the useless one who has to be saved by the escorter. All the quests involving Harrison are like that.
      • Schnottz's bodyguards are also pretty vicious and character-overpowering adult black dragons in disguise, but of course you can only learn this after the irritating cut scene in question.
    • In the Silverpine Forest quests, Sylvanas is killed with a single bullet from behind by Vincent Godfrey. The shooter is either around Level 21 or a Level 87 5-man boss, whereas the victim has over 100 million health and requires a full raid to defeat. Additionally, the similarly strong Varian Wrynn's life is threatened by The Mole in his throne room, as he says he would have died if not for Anduin's shielding him. The Mole goes down easily against a single Level 84 player and the guards.
    • Another example involves a minor quest in one of the new cataclysm zones. The hero is fighting an NPC that tosses him off the platform your standing one, requiring you to be saved by another NPC before you fall to your doom. For most people this is mostly appropriate, while nearly any character at this level has a flying mounts they couldn't be on the mount at the time they are tossed, as they would have been dismounted when they started the fight, and it would take to long to summon the mount before you fall. However, one class, the druid, has the magical ability to turn into a bird at will and so should never be threatened by a fall of any height. While less blindingly obvious other classes have other methods of avoiding damage from the fall, even if they couldn't immediately fly back up to confront the monster again the way a druid can.
  • A couple of villainous examples in Kingdom Hearts II. Demyx claims that he's not cut out for fighting and generally acts like a coward in story scenes. When Xaldin steals the Beast's rose and captures Belle, Belle actually manages to stun him with an elbow to the gut and swipe the rose back from him. Surprising, then, that the boss battles against them are arguably the toughest in the entire game.
    • Sora has trouble with Armored Knights in after The Reveal right after The 1000 Heartless War, though this was because he knew that defeating the Heartless with the Keyblade was actually helping Organization XIII, so he was reluctant to kill them.
      • Basically, everyone in Kingdom Hearts seems a lot weaker in cutscenes. About the only real exception I can think of is when Mickey shows up and knocks out everything he attacks in one hit each, so I guess the rule could be "everyone but Mickey seems weaker in cutscenes."
    • This trope's opposite, Cutscene Power to the Max, shows up in Kingdom Hearts a lot as well, however.
  • Contra: Hard Corps sets this up in one scene when the Doctor tells you that you have no choice but to surrender . . . because you are surrounded by thirteen ordinary guards. However, thanks to Hard Corps' multiple story paths, you can choose to either surrender or fight it out, making Cutscene Incompetence actually optional in this case. (Although if you do choose to fight, it's against entirely different enemies...)
  • This appears in both possible endings for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. In the good ending, Starkiller allows himself to be convinced by his ally Rahm Kota to spare The Emperor's life after he's beaten him in a boss battle, despite Starkiller himself initially predicting (correctly) that The Emperor was only pretending to be completely defeated; then The Emperor attacks and Starkiller holds him off while the others escape, getting killed in an explosion that somehow leaves The Emperor unharmed, and against an opponent that you just beat a minute ago. In the evil ending, The Emperor commands Starkiller to kill a helpless Kota as a final test before becoming a Sith Lord; and, despite the fact that you've already chosen the evil ending and that Starkiller was raised by Darth Vader and has cut through swathes of enemies to get this far, many of them good guys, he rejects the opportunity to seize power and attacks the Emperor; after which he proceeds to get horribly maimed, despite, again, the Emperor's manageable difficulty as an in-game boss fight.
  • Enter The Matrix: Niobe is ambushed by Vlad from behind, knocked unconscious and taken to use in a ritualistic sacrifice, only to escape and proceed to give him a good beating in-game.
  • Silent Hill: Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?? Yes indeed, but depending on which of the Multiple Endings you've gotten, things can easily get worse. The protagonists are also prone to passing out between world transitions.
  • This trope can be invoked unintentionally. For example, in Dynamite Headdy, there is a level where you jump from ledge to ledge to climb a tower. The first few ledges are done for you... by an AI that messes it up about 10% of the time and falls off the tower, causing minor damage. For a more straight example: the Robo-Collector captures Headdy in the opening cutscene. When it appears in-game, it is incapable of doing any damage at all.
  • Uncharted 2 has a ridiculous number of scenarios where Drake simply stands and watches as bad things happen, when the player would have already opened fire on everything in sight. The key incidents are the dig site, where he simply watches as Lazarevic rants and kills a mook rather than shoot him, ending the entire threat to the world at the beginning of the game, and at the Tree of Life in the ending where he stands back and watches Lazarevic drink the sap, healing his wounds and making him almost invulnerable. Had the player been in control, he would have popped out of cover, fired a rocket at Lazarevic's head, and taken off as the sap begins exploding and brings down Shambahla.
    • Justified in that, in the first instance, he doesn't particularly care about Lazarevic, only about the Cintomani stone. In the second instance, it's a case of his curiosity getting the better of him: he wants to know what the sap actually does, and only realizes afterwards that he missed a golden opportunity.
  • Ground Control 2 manages this in it's last cut-scene. The fail is great for three reasons: 1) He shouldn't have been there in first place to get left behind, as he is not usually on the battle field 2) He could easily reached a dropship if he was there. 3) He is shown to be highly competent otherwise, destroying a battle walker equipped with only a grenade and his fists.
  • Legacy of Kain example, Wraith!Raziel completely freezes up while his Amnesiac Dissonance murders his new mentor, and the freeze happens before Janos knocks off KnightTemplar!Raziel's helmet.
  • Riven is a textbook example of this. The technology used to smoothly integrate video into the Beautiful Void landscape was unable to support traditional twitch-game combat mechanics. Therefore, you're able to wander freely around the awesome environment solving all sorts of difficult mechanical puzzles and riddles, but whenever you encounter a living person, he either instantly escapes or instantly captures/traps you in some way. Not so bad the first time, but as the game goes on, it gets increasingly annoying. If you're weaker than every other character, why is it you must do all the work despite not knowing how anything operates?
  • In Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny, we have Oyu, who, when player-controlled, is more than capable of kicking all sorts of demon ass, but, in a lot of cutscenes she's in, she repeatedly gets her ass handed to her, spends a lot of her time being rescued from Tokichiro/enemies/traps/falling into a firey pit/falling off the side of an airship, and falling over a lot.
    • Also, we have Michelle Aubert from Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. She's as badass as can be most of the time, but she gets her ass handed to her twice in cutscenes - seriously, one would assume that she'd make more of an effort to fight back after getting grabbed by Guildenstern.
  • Pokémon Colosseum: While not the player character, a really noteworthy example. Eagun's lv. 50 Pikachu goes up against a Cipher Peon's lv. 35 Hitmontop. The cutscene plays out like an actual battle... with the Pikachu using only Quick Attack. At that level, easily roasted even a Shadow Pokemon using a move like Thunder.
  • In the first few chapters of Mirror's Edge, the player becomes accustomed to out-running armed policemen, throwing themselves off buildings and even jumping between two crane arms on parallel skyscrapers ; however, upon reaching Ropeburn, the player finds themselves in a cutscene involving being grabbed and thrown of a small drop by him. This is then continued unless the player knows a surprise attack is coming (or has unbelievable reflexes), as Ropebrun proceeds to hit you once and throw you to your death; whilst Ropeburn is introduced as an ex-wrestler hired as muscle, the fact that he's settling into corrupt politics and taking on a bad-ass female in peak physical health doesn't really justify the cutscene.
  • Happens early on in Suikoden. You are confronted by a large amount of guards. After fighting a couple of squads of them, your character decides there's just too many of them. Worth noting is that if the high-magic party member has the fire rune, she can usually end both fights with a single spell.
  • God of War, somewhat. Kratos, despite killing the Hydra and retrieving Pandora's Box, is killed by a pillar thrown by Ares (though to be fair, he does escape from the Underworld).
    • God of War III: After killing Poseidon with his bare hands, Kratos is sent all the way back down Mount Olympus and into the Underworld yet again by a single lightning bolt attack from Zeus.
  • Deus Ex Human Revolution has three pretty spectacular instances. In one, Jensen gets suprised from behind by the largest enemy in the game, although he could've been using the silent walk augmentation. In the second He lets the CEO of Tai Yong Medical get behind him, trigger a panic room, and dive into it. In the third he allows the same bitch to pull out a remote and scramble his augs. In time it took her to do that, he could've killed her, like, a dozen times.
  • In the original Breath of Fire I, you get stranded on an island. Gobi shows up and extorts you into a huge debt in return for him getting the Gills that will allow you to breathe underwater and leave the island. Nina has the warp spell that will teleport you instantly to any town you've visited, but since the game switches you to Gobi until you finish the Gills quest, you never get the opportunity to cast it.
    • Then again, your destination is somewhere you've never reached before and considering the trouble you went to getting a ship, only for it to get attacked by the Dark Dragons and sink, it's reasonable to take Gobi up on his offer.
  • Fable II was actually designed specifically to avert this trope. The only true cutscenes happen at the very beginning and very end of the game. In one notable incident, what appears to be a villain's soliloquy will be cut short by an NPC shooting the villain—unless the Player Character does it first.
    • Unfortunately, the cutscene immediately preceding that has the player character standing still and doing nothing while the villain kills his dog, kidnaps his allies, and shoots him in the face. The hero has a gun.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, when you encounter an enemy who can be a friend during gameplay, you can select the talk option. In Eliwood's game, however, the dragon Ninian appears to you in a cutscene, leading to a quick slice followed by a Hannibal Lecture from Nergal once Eliwood discovers what he did.
  • The original Prophecies campaign to Guild Wars had a frustrating example in that Prince Rurik's death while leading his people to safety is an important plot point of the game's first Act. The fact that the party of four players present will have at least one person capable of resurrecting him in 3 to 8 seconds is never brought up as the party opts to leave him dead in the wilderness without so much as a proper burial.
    • The closest thing to a justification is that a tree fell on him.
  • Wing Commander II - After discovering Jazz is the traitor you go after him and shoot him down and he ejects. Then there's a cutscene of him in your sights while he pleads for you not to shoot him. You get no option to shoot him before another pilot swoops in and tractors him in to take him back to the carrier to stand trial. Unsurprisingly he later escapes and one of your fellow pilots chews you out for not shooting him when you had the chance...
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the final confrontation with The Joker begins with Batman walking into what is obviously a trap, spotting a bomb, and just standing there like a damned moron while it explodes. All because the story requires Batman, who is capable of disarming bombs in his sleep and knows when to get the hell out of the area when he sees one in any case, to be disabled by a bomb at this point.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, most of Batman's problems would have been solved by giving the player the control and letting them do absolutely nothing. Batman is just so damned stubborn on this game that every word that comes out of his mouth seems to make everything worse.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Mario seems to switch between Cutscene Incompetence and Cutscene Power to the Max quite a bit.
  • In the Sierra Entertainment videogame of The Hobbit, there's one instance where Bilbo Baggins must sneak his way through goblin guards to rescue a Dwarf slave. He states in the cutscene that they are too strong for him to fight - even though he has been fighting goblins all the way through this level, and will fight goblins this tough later on. He is also captured all too easily if spotted during gameplay.
  1. (He'd probably attack the Gazebo.)