Harsher in Hindsight/Video Games

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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September 11 terrorist attack-related

  • The 1990 Neo Geo game The Super Spy ends with a warning on the increase in power of terrorism, complete with an image of the Twin Towers in the background. Then come 9/11...
  • The Neo Geo arcade game Sonic Wings 2 (aka Aero Fighters 2) features New York as the backdrop for level 2. While the Statues of Liberty can be shot for a powerup, there is no physical damage, though this is not the case with BOTH twin towers. Not only that, but there's money inside each! Paid to destroy the Twin Towers. Golly.
  • Again with 9/11, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 features the World Trade Center burning on the cover (though that cover was later recalled), and a mission in the Soviet campaign allows you to destroy them yourself (they are better utilized as garrisons for your conscripts). As if that wasn't enough, there's a mission involving an attack on the Pentagon as well.
    • Later patches would change the names of these buildings (and other famous monuments) to generic ones. And then fan mods reverted the names because as we all know, people don't like censorship.
    • Stalin's death by poison in the original Red Alert's Soviet campaign end. The fact that he was actually poisoned in Real Life which caused his stroke was not known when the game was made.
  • Warren Spector once joked that the lack of the two towers in the NYC skybox for Deus Ex (released in 2000) was due to a terrorist attack. Guess what happened about a year later?
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: A side conversation will mention trying to get Bill Gates and Steve Jobs out of hiding. After October 2011, only Gates will need to be accounted for.
  • A rare example of it happening before the game is released, so the moment really only happened to the developers: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty had a scene showing Arsenal Gear crashing into New York, including a detailed scene where the towers were destroyed. It was supposedly going to be one of the best scenes in the game - but just before the game was set for release, 9/11 happened, causing them to hastily edit the scene and leave it rather disjointed.
    • More specifically, the landfall of Arsenal Gear purportedly destroyed all of New York City's financial district. The prow made it so far inland as to toss the protagonist and his nemesis onto the roof of Federal Hall, which, as anyone who has been to Wall Street knows, is quite removed from the coastline. Early concept art shows the devastation, with pretty much the entire south end of Manhattan reduced to smoldering rubble. The final version cuts away to black as Arsenal Gear approaches the Brooklyn Bridge, then shows the mobile base already at rest at Federal Hall.
    • In a more traditional example, the 2010 oil spill off the US coastline makes one wonder when British Petrol is gonna put up a Big Shell over the Gulf of Mexico...
    • The game also introduces the main villains of the series with the Nebulous Evil Organization of the Patriots, which has been in full control of American politics apparently for well over a hundred years with the ultimate goal of stripping the population of its civil liberties and turn them into mindless slaves that are completely oblivious of their control. Given that the game was released in November 2001, any similarities to the PATRIOT Act and its aftermath are probably completely coincidence.
  • Speaking of 9/11, the Electronic Arts game Urban Strike (released in 1994) was set in the year 2001, according to the intro. A cutscene in which Malone's laser fires and blows up part of the World Trade Center is shown right before the seventh campaign, which takes place in New York City. When you reach your destination in the mission to rescue the survivors, there is a huge smouldering hole in the side of one of the towers. If you fail the mission by incorrectly defusing the bombs that have been set in the towers, the whole thing comes crashing down. The fact that some people do believe that placed explosives brought down the Twin Towers makes this even more ironic.
    • Not to mention that it originally came out a bit Too Soon after the 1993 car bomb attack.
  • In SimCity 2000, if you build your airport too close to your big cities, your planes can and will crash into your skyscrapers, sparking fires and the collapse of said skyscrapers. Yeah.


  • Another case that involved the death of Liam Neeson's wife: the character he voiced for the game Fallout 3 loses his wife in the intro sequence.
  • One of the missions in Shadow the Hedgehog requires the player to complement a(n alien) terrorist attack by detonating five large bombs planted around a city centre. The game was actually released after the attacks on London, but the mission would have been completed well before.
  • In 1998, the makers of Doonesbury released Doonesbury Flashbacks: 25 Years of Serious Fun, which contained an archive of every strip published up until that point, as well as numerous extras. Each menu on the disc featured "fun" little animations. The menu for the archive itself was an exterior shot of the White House. One of the many "wacky" things that goes on if the viewer leaves the menu on long enough: an airplane crashing on the White House lawn.
  • An in-game example comes from Tales of Symphonia. Close to the beginning, there is a cutscene about Lloyd's Exphere in with Genis says something about his mother protecting him through it. It feels way heavier the second time you play it since you then know that the Desians imprisoned his mother's probably still conscious soul in the stone, which gives it its power.
  • Rainbow Six Black Thorn originally had the eighth mission set in a airport terminal. After 9/11 it was changed to a bus depot, but the developers actually sent the level designs to modders who wanted to restore the original level.
  • Modern Warfare 2 was highly controversial at its release for including a level in which the player is part of a terrorist attack on the Moscow airport as an undercover agent. In January 2011, actual terrorists also decided that the airport would make an excellent target. However, they used explosives instead of machine guns (which had been used in a terrorist attack on an airport in India earlier).
    • An earlier example would be the first Modern Warfare, which was made in 2007, but took place in 2011. Now that the actual year 2011 has rolled around, the events of the Arab Spring, especially the stuff going on in Libya, make the depictions of civil unrest, a violent coup, and subsequent Western intervention across the course of Al-Asad's rise to power seem chillingly prophetic.
  • In-universe example of this trope is basically the basic premise of Alan Wake, as the eponymous writer gets caught up in scenarios eerily reminiscent of the books he wrote.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Oil ocean zone. (Counts extra within that particular video, since the uploader's username has "bp" in it.)
    • Double for the comic which is Sonic and Bunnie in said zone. Ian Flynn has stated that he planned the storyline before the Oil Spill.
  • Once again, Die Hard. See the film section for the movie poster.
  • What was already a pretty heavy bit of foreshadowing in the Human Noble backstory of Dragon Age Origins becomes painful to see on a second playthrough. While talking to your brother and his family, you can engage your young nephew in a conversation about swords, at which point his father says "Don't worry, son. You'll get to see a sword up close real soon, I promise."
    • In the Expansion Pack Awakening, the banter between Anders and Justice about demonic possession is horrifying and ironic when you consider what happens in Dragon Age II.
    • And now Anders blowing up the Chantry in Dragon Age II is rather uncomfortable in the wake of the 2011 Norway attacks, especially since the perpetrator happens to share the same name with him.
  • And then there's this from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. A closer depiction to the Die Hard example above.
  • The Asian-themed level "Tsunami" in Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex in which you evade a small tsunami and then explored around the flooded remains. Granted the game's levels were themed around natural disasters, though at this point in time, it's hard not to view it in a rather grim fashion.
  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the player is charged with fighting water- or fire-themed villains. The villains want to use the games' legendary Pokémon to their various ends, but the legendary Pokémon turn out to be too powerful, and end up causing torrential downpours threatening to flood the entire world (in the case of the water Pokémon) or causing massive worldwide droughts, threatening people with starvation (in the case of the fire Pokémon). It all looks like a standard case of Gone Horribly Right, but takes on a new meaning if you consider that some of these things are happening (or threatening to happen) nowadays as a result of global climate change.
  • Tron 2.0 and its sequel comic Ghost in the Machine came out in 2003, well before Tron: Legacy was even written. 2.0 is even considered Canon Discontinuity or Alternate Continuity. Still, about half the game's plot straddle the line between this and Hilarious in Hindsight when it comes to light that in both timelines, Tron and Flynn vanished under mysterious circumstances. There was also a plot element with a Tron upgrade code (which is called the Tron Legacy code...) with an unfortunate bug in it that turns the Program it's installed into to go Ax Crazy.
    • And for more unfortunate moments in Tron games, check out the Intellivision games. Due to Mattel getting an early draft of the script, they screwed up and made Tron an orange-colored (bad guy colored) sprite, cutting through hordes of blue (good guy colored) enemies. A simple mix-up in 1982 gets much nastier when you factor in "Rinzler." The other one is from Maze-A-Tron. You're playing Flynn, trapped on a circuit board and trying to navigate the maze - alone, with no way to win...
  • The Ace Attorney series has quite a few.
    • One of the most gut-wrenching is this quote from Diego Armando/Godot when he is describing Maggey Byrde's supposed guilt: "Using the dark, aromatic depths of coffee to conceal the poison...classy lady!" It really hits home when you find out Armando himself was poisoned by the murderous bitch Dahila Hathorne and fell into a five-year coma, during which time Mia Fey, the love of his life, was murdered. Poor guy really had in rough...
  • Another in-story example from Halo: Reach: Noble Six is notified to be a soldier with a hyper-lethal skill set and a lone wolf personality. Carter, Noble Team's leader and Noble Six's new commander, upon meeting Noble Six tells them that he is happy to have a soldier with Noble Six's skill set on the team but that those lone wolf tendencies should stay behind now that he/she is part of a team. Near the end of the game Noble Team is assigned to defend the Pillar of Autumn and all of Noble Team dies in the process except for Noble Six (and Jun who escaped with Dr. Hasley according to Word of God) who stays behind on Reach to make sure the Pillar can escape Reach. Carter's statements become sadly ironic as Noble Six is left alone as the only Spartan, or UNSC soldier period, on Reach and all he/she can do is watch as Reach is glassed by the Covenant. Forced to become a lone wolf once again Noble Six's final actions are to fight against unrelenting waves of Covenant forces in a Last Stand that lasts for several hours until he/she is finally subdued and killed. Decades later the only reminder on Reach that any sort of conflict had ever occurred is the shattered remains of Noble Six's helmet, a lone wolf but a noble and courageous one indeed.
  • An in story example for Assassin's Creed: Revelations. On the final mission Ezio goes into the library in Musayaf...there are absolutely no books or anything at all, save a ring of chairs, with only one occupant, the skeleton of Altair. You then have an Altair Memory, of him dousing all of the torches in the hall to the library (mirroring Ezio relighting them as he goes into it) and then hiding the Apple of Eden behind a wall. The final mission statement? Take a seat and rest for a bit.
    • Comes again in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, when you realize that he had lost another loved one in the city he lived in and watched helplessly as his father and brothers were executed. He had every reason to brutally execute Savonarola for the of Cristina. It took a lot of self control to not give him the same fate he had given Vieri and Uberto
  • In Ghost Recon, released in 2002 and set in 2008, a war between NATO and an Ultranationalist Russia starts off with the Russians backing Georgian separatists in an invasion of Georgia. Fast forward to 2008 and...
  • Anders of Dragon Age 2 is a mentally unstable party member who ends up blowing up the Chantry and killing many people. Uncomfortably, he shares a name with the perpetrator of the attack in Norway 2011, and a shares a disturbing physical resemblence too.
  • In Mass Effect, Ashley writes an e-mail to her sister warning her not to fraternize, as she doesn't want to have romantic feelings come into play when deciding which of her subordinates lives or who dies. On Virmire, where you must choose between saving Kaidan and Ashley, both of whom can be romanced, it's possible to sacrifice Ashley to save a romanced Kaidan or save a romanced Ashley at the cost of Kaidan's life, making Ashley a potential victim or reluctant beneficiary of this kind of thought.
  • An in-game (and fully intended) example in Diablo III: During Act 3, Leah's journal mentions how the spirits she's trying to keep trapped within the black soulstone are starting to wear on her, but comforts herself by remembering that once Asmodan is dead and captured, and the black soulstone is destroyed, she'll be herself again. At the end of the act, before the soulstone can be destroyed, Diablo's spirit is freed from the stone and placed into Leah's body, turning her into the Prime Evil and the end boss of the game, whom the player must then destroy to save the day.