Stupidity Is the Only Option

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"If it's a trap then it's a plot point and we have to follow the plot."

Sometimes a story requires the heroes to fail. They need to be captured by the guards, inadvertently allow the villain to get the MacGuffin, be betrayed, walk into an obvious trap, or free the Sealed Evil in a Can. In good stories, the characters have ample justification for these actions, so it makes sense for it to happen. In video games, however, the protagonist is being controlled by the player. And any Troper with the least degree of Genre Savvy is probably anticipating some sort of disaster if they do... the blindingly obvious.

Thus, the game's only recourse is to force the player to act like a moron. The game simply cannot progress until the player completes the necessary stupidity. Whether it's due to a Cutscene or But Thou Must!, the player is not going to be able to prevent his character from making that obvious mistake.

If you're lucky, then this will simply move the plot forward and the game will continue. In some cases, however, the stupidity will have in-game consequences—you'll lose equipment or powerups, be forced to fight enemies that are very powerful and/or in large numbers, or otherwise be put into an unpleasant situation, as if the player is being punished for the character's stupidity.

Compare Press X to Die, where the stupid action is entirely optional. Contrast Violation of Common Sense, where the stupid action is optional, but results in rewards for the player instead of punishment. Also compare Trap Is the Only Option, where the characters themselves are aware of an Obvious Trap but still feel it's the only way to progress.

Common consequences of this trope include:

Examples of Stupidity Is the Only Option include:

Video game examples

Action Adventure

  • In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, the game begins with you meeting Impa, whose skin is inexplicably blue, and having to get through a rock that only the Hero can push. Of course, it turns out that she's possessed by Veran. What makes this even stupider is what happens if you do it in a linked game, as Impa appears in Oracle of Seasons and yet seems to not remember you at this point in Ages.
    • In Phantom Hourglass, when you board the Ghost Ship, you are asked by a creepy girl to help rescue her sisters. Even though all four girls are extremely suspicious (including doing their damnedest to get you captured by monsters), you have no choice in the matter and need to save them.
  • Several times in Okami, Amaterasu has to make a blind leap to advance the plot (once is straight down the gullet of a massive Water Dragon). After a while, her companion Issun comments that "leap before you look" is pretty much their motto.
    • The worst violation in Okami is when you find an artifact that is the only hope against evil and must not fall into evil hands. So what do you do? Turn it right over to the secretly but obviously evil NPC.

Action Game

  • Harry Potter games require some stupid player actions in order to follow the plot of the games. E.g., in some versions of the first game, you can't put your invisibility cloak back on after sending Norbert away, since getting caught is essential to the plot of the source material.
  • At the beginning of God of War 2, Kratos is faced against the Colossus come to life. Zeus, who had just shrank him down and took some of his godly power, gives him a sword. However, in order to effectively use the sword, you must put all your godly energy into it. Gee, what could possibly go wrong? What you mean it's a trap? And yes, the only way to beat the boss is to put all of your god energy into it, even though it didn't really serve a purpose.
    • The crowning glory is that the only reason you lose the sword is due to Kratos's Cutscene Incompetence - if Kratos had moved slightly to the left instead of gloating while the Colossus was falling, the entire game may have been avoided...
    • In fairness to Kratos, the reason he trusted Zeus is because he thought it was Athena that took his god powers.
      • Though Athena's favored animal is the Owl. Kratos clearly yells at an Eagle when being shrunk from God size to Mortal size. Any Greek, no matter how stupid, should know that the Eagle is Zeus' animal.
      • Not to mention that when Kratos' Godhood was taken away, the eagle struck him with lightning from its talons to do so.
      • He stills yells to Athena in anger after being shrunk.
  • In Tomb Raider 2, when Lara reaches the temple where the Dagger of Xian is located, the floor directly in front of it is a trapdoor which opens when stood on. Although Lara could just jump onto the pedestal with the dagger on it, and there is enough room around it for Lara to stand next to it, she can't. At best you can use your prior knowledge to preemptively fall down the pit before the trap and put yourself in a safer position than if you just blindly ran into the trap.
    • Knowing the exact position of the trap door and jumping over it will only land you on another trap door. You can jump to the left and right edges of the platform, but those are also trap doors.
  • At the end of the 2008 Prince of Persia, having just witnessed the Heroic Sacrifice of your support character, you're left hanging around a small patch of desert, ringed by invisible or unclimbable walls (even without them, you need the no-longer-possible double-jump to cross the chasms the invisible walls keep you from falling throwing yourself into) and plagued by the whisperings of the Sealed Evil in a Can you just spent the game resealing. In order to get the absolutely final ending, you need to do a Face Heel Turn and unseal the evil to resurrect the girl and get a well-deserved What the Hell, Hero?. The Epilogue does justify this decision somewhat, but before that it seems to make no sense.
  • In the beginning of Ghostbusters the Video Game, Slimer gets free and the team find him staring at the ghost containment unit. The player is required to shoot at Slimer, damaging the containment unit and letting out another ghost. Recapturing that ghost then becomes the Forced Tutorial.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum after rescuing the hostages in the library, when you head for the only exit, you can see shimmering gas coming from under the door and a hissing sound. There's no other way out and the goddamned Batman not only isn't carrying a gas mask but despite later revealing to have a friggin remote controlled plane capable of delivering supplies to him at will didn't get one after the first fear gas attack. Cue inevitable fear gas Mushroom Samba.

Adventure Game

  • Subverted in Touch Detective 2 1/2. In the game's final chapter, in order to progress, you have to free the game's villain, the Cornstalker, from his cell. Despite this seeming to be an incredibly stupid idea—to the point that Mackenzie, the main character comments on two occasions before it that there's no good reason she should... nothing but good ends up coming of it.
  • In the adventure game The Longest Journey, as protagonist April Ryan you are forced to wander into one of the most obvious traps imaginable. After hearing that "something" is lurking in a mysterious forest and killing/eating locals and wildlife, you come across a hideous, decrepit, Gollum-like, hissing old creature constantly letting slip obvious comments about wanting to eat you, all the while claiming to be a "poor old ladyyyy...hiss...jussssst picking bones...I MEAN FLOWERS, yessss, flowers, for my sssssteeeeew...". You are then forced to walk home to her little cave/hovel in the dark/evil part of the forest where she locks you in. It's made all the worse by the fact that April seems perfectly aware that she's wandering into a trap via meta-comments and her Genre-Savvyness regarding the fairy-tale-esque world in which she's adventuring, but that the logic and decision making sections of her brain are not communicating too well...

I've been tricked! I should've known something was wrong with that old woman. I mean, she was drooling and slobbering all over me, she kept tripping over her words saying things like "prisoners" instead of "guests", and her teeth were abnormally large. But still! If you can't trust sweet old ladies who've hurt their leg picking berries in the forest, who CAN you trust? Hansel and Gretel, my heart goes out to you kids...

    • In the same game, she is unable to sail a ship to Alais without tampering with a compass and causing the ship to sail into a magical storm. And after she is punished by being locked in the hold, she must use an axe to (accidentally) sink the ship while she's still in it.
  • The climax of Bow Street Runner is an Egregious example. The mastermind behind all the events leaves a woman who supposedly opposed him bound and gagged in his hideout after fleeing. The woman offers to lead the player into his current hideout. Given that said mastermind has a way of killing anyone who opposes him, the set-up is obvious. Of course there is no way to avoid it; worse, the villain berates the player for falling for "the oldest trick in the book"...
  • The only way to proceed to the second part of the Catacombs in King's Quest VI is by deliberately blundering into the one pitfall that doesn't kill you. Of course, you're boned if you aren't carrying a certain item at that point.
  • In SD Snatcher, a pair of cultists tell the protagonist to assassinate the Snatcher who has taken over the cult under the guise of a priest. You enter battle with the priest, with no evidence other than the word of the cultists, and the priest forgoes the superstrength of the Snatchers for a simple punch attack which does little damage. The game cannot continue until you shoot the priest, killing him instantly and losing your job as a result, forcing you to go undercover under the mantle Solid Snake (as insisted upon by your wife) in order to clear your name.
  • It could be argued that, initially at least, Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy is a variation on this: the player alternates between playing as Lucas Kane, a murderer, and Carla Valenti, the detective investigating his case. The two are obviously acting at cross-purposes to each other, so whatever is beneficial for one character will be detrimental to the other, and you are always required to do a bare minimum of beneficial actions for one character in order to advance the plot: at which point you switch to the other character, and so on and so on ad infinitum.
  • You have to microwave a block of ice containing a cowbell in Scooby Doo Mystery for Genesis. What's next? Nuking aerosol spray cans?
  • In the adventure game Loom, at one point Bobbin gets captured by Bishop Mandible who imprisons you in a cage and then pretty much tells you to try and escape. Of course, you can easily escape using the open draft, but you know that the bishop is waiting for you to do just that and it can't be good when you do. Except for there isn't anything else that you can do. So you do the only thing you can, and you step right into the Xanatos Gambit: Stay in the cage or help Mandible.

Board Game

  • In Chess, there is a state of the board called "zugzwang". It is when any move you can make will give your opponent an advantage. It is normally force, but it sometimes happens without the other side manipulating the position.

Fighting Game

  • This is not about the fighting game mechanic, but in the story of BlazBlue Continuum Shift, especially at Litchi Faye-Ling's story, you're probably thinking that it's probably the best for her (controlled by you) to forget about Arakune and move on with her normal life... it slaps you with a bad ending where Litchi rots away due to the corruption and it looks like not even Kokonoe can cure her. The right option is to do a Face Heel Turn and join NOL, even if that move was stupid as hell and goes against her kind nature.

First-Person Shooter

  • The "walking into a scripted trap" seems to be a common trope since the dawn of FPS games to force your character to start from scratch to keep the game from getting boring after you've gained all the cool weapons and ammo. The earliest iteration of this that comes to mind was the segue at the end of Episode 1 of the original Doom where after killing the boss monsters, there's nothing left to do but teleport to hell and die, thus starting Episode 2 with nothing but a pistol and your fists.
  • In Half-Life, there's a mandatory plot sequence where Gordon is captured by HECU marines. The room where this happens has a conveniently placed health charger and is the only way to proceed. On subsequent playthroughs, no matter how hard you try, you cannot fight these enemies. You can lay down grenades, fire into the room until all your ammo is gone, whatever, but once you walk in there, they get you.
    • Not really stupid, per se. Valve did a good job of making that doorway fairly innocuous and the subsequent capture does tend to come as a surprise. It's only really frustrating when you go back and try to figure away around it and figure out there isn't actually one. The example below of getting into the pod of Half-Life 2 is a much better example because it looks like a stupid idea the first time you've tried it.
  • Half-Life 2 gives the player no choice but to climb into a Stalker pod in the Combine Citadel. And after being (of course) captured, stripped of your weapons, and escaping due to a Deus Ex Machina, you are required to step into another, identical, pod. And be captured again. Lampshaded by the Big Bad, who congratulates you for delivering yourself to him so conveniently.
    • What makes this a particularly ghoulish example is that there are two pods you can climb into. One leads to the plot, and the other leads to your brain being cooked out of your skull by lasers. Gordon can clearly see the brain-cooking path, but he has no possible way of knowing that the other track doesn't have a lobotomy center right around the corner. The second instance in which you put yourself into a the pod is just as bad: by that point, the Combine are fully aware of your presence within the Citadel, and are almost certainly aware of how you infiltrated the heart of the facility in the first place.
  • In many non-Stealth Based Games that nonetheless possess a number of Stealth-Based Missions, the player will often sneak deep within the bowels of some heavily guarded location to accomplish some goal only to, upon reaching whatever you're after, be confronted with a shunt of absurd Insurmountable Waist Height Fences and But Thou Musts that force you to do some idiotic thing that you know will immediately blow your cover, raise the alarm and force you to fight your way back out in order to complete your mission. Prime examples would be Red Faction, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and Medal Of Honor.
    • The MoH series gets special mention here, seeing as how your character always sets 10-second timers on bombs that he plants during stealth missions (and sets off remote-detonated bombs barely out of blast range), making it impossible to get far enough from the explosion to avoid immediate implication.
    • On one stealth mission in Red Faction, it's actually possible, if goddamn hard, to get into the Deputy Administrator's office without being identified. Of course, you still have to shoot your way out. Part of the reason for this is that while you only came here to steal a key, the only way to do so is to kill the (heavily guarded) guy that has it.
  • The Call of Duty series falls victim to this, in which the only way to advance the level forward is for YOU, most often a mere private, though sometimes as high as a Sergeant, to be the first one to break cover and move out, even if the enemy is close enough to start shooting at you as soon as you break cover—your allies will do nothing and not move to support you or take down those enemies unless you move first.
    • Similarly, Private Allen in Modern Warfare 2 is sent to infiltrate Makarov's terrorist organization to stop him from plotting attacks. Despite having a clear shot at the entire terrorist squad for the entire mission, Allen is forced to play along the entire time while they massacre civilians (read: perform exactly the sort of attack Allen was sent to stop). He has no option to attempt to subdue Makarov for capture. Naturally, at the end Makarov betrays you and pins the whole attack on the USA. This is later explained that the Big Bad was Allen's commanding officer, but from Allen's and the player's perspective, it still comes off looking completely stupid.
      • Not that stupid—Allen is one guy in the middle of circa half a dozen ex-Spetsnaz terrorists armed with heavy weapons, and its revealed in Modern Warfare 3 that immediately prior to the attack Allen got a ringside seat for another one of Makarov's men being dogpiled and shot for protesting the attack so he already knows that showing any hesitation is going to get him summarily executed. If we presume that Allen was not told what he was doing until immediately before go-time—which is almost certain given that Makarov already knows he's the mole—he doesn't really have any viable options.
    • A more unique example from Call of Duty 2: At one point in the Russian campaign, you are attempting to sneak through fuel pipelines to get past German soldiers and support allies at a heavily-defended station. The pre-mission journal entry even says that it's best to not let the Germans know you're in the pipe. So, naturally, as soon as you get to a hole in the pipe that would allow German soldiers to see you, one of your allies sent ahead blocks the path forward until the Germans in question discover you. Naturally, said ally gets himself shredded by machine gun fire before he can exit the pipe, which shows you which path not to take.
  • For a hardened criminal with opulent time doing experience Riddick does some surprisingly stupid things in Escape From Butcher's Bay. Immediately upon his arrival to the slam some fishy dude with nervous voice and shifty eyes all of a sudden offers him a shiv (an illegal and relatively valuable item, mind you) completely for free. Although you can practically hear admiral Akbar shouting at that point, you have no choice but to go into the dude's cell and fall into an ambush.
    • Later you must make him try to open a door with a retinal scanner, although him being an escaped inmate, it's clear from the start that it's not going to work but will instead trigger an alarm. Conveniently, the alarmed guards will open a necessary door for you.
  • There's a level in Halo: Combat Evolved where you have to fall out of the (landed) spaceship to the ground, and spend a fair chunk of the level trying to find a way back in. It's designed so that the hole is difficult to see and easy to step on; most players are caught the first time around, because they're not expecting it. If you do see the hole and try to turn back, the game congratulates you for avoiding it, but then spawns ever-increasing aliens to attack you and drive you back, prompting you to jump through the hole to escape them.
    • You're told beforehand that a pool of coolant has formed below the ship and that jumping will be safe, but that just begs the question as to why you have to jump in the first place. Sufficiently skilled players can just turn around and fight their way back, but the doors back have been locked, prompting you to take the jump anyway. You're pretty much forced into it.
  • Vivisector: Beast Inside forces you to get into numerous obvious traps during the first third of the game, which is even more frustrating when said traps are designed to make you into a sitting duck for wave after wave of enemy mooks.
  • Left 4 Dead's "Dead Air" campaign features, at the last leg of the penultimate map, a metal detector. Because of all your weapons, walking through it sets it off and triggers a horde of infected. Naturally, everyone will want to skip around its sides, which is easily done. When the developers ported the map to Left 4 Dead 2, they made it impossible to not walk through it.

Mecha Game

  • Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 - the player has to ignore the obvious trap that Echidna Iisaki is leading Lee Linjun into. At one point an officer warns Lee that this may be a trap and he demands they charge in anyway. The end result is that Lee is captured, which has dire results for The Captain. Considering that Lee is a jackass most players are glad that Lee is gone.


  • In Phantasy Star Universe, the second part of the Episode 3 story mission Ambition's End offers you the choice between taking one of four NPCs. Each one is effectively as useless as the others, but nevertheless each at least has some offensive potential, some variety of useful ability, and the potential to act as a passable meatshield when required. No matter which you pick, you are instead forced to take the most useless NPC in the game, a laughably weak liability named Lumia Waber who has pathetic weapons, inflicts pathetic damage, has absolutely no special abilities, dies if an enemy breathes on her too hard and who more often than not will choose to overwrite your level Awesome buffs with her level Useless ones.
  • In the Harry Potter-esque MMORPG Wizard 101, if you play the Myth school, eventually your Snape expy teacher tells you to go get a book from the library without talking to the librarian. When you get to the library, there's no way to get a book for yourself (or if there is one, it's far from obvious); however, the librarian has the question mark over his head that denotes that you're supposed to talk to him. And he says the book doesn't exist. Then you go back and talk to your teacher again:

Drake: You talked to the librarian? Didn't I instruct you not to? ...(sigh) You disappoint me.

  • RuneScape has a depressingly large amount of quests where your character has to be incredibly gullible, usually by being tricked into doing something that helps the Big Bad of the quest. Granted, Runescape has a fourth wall problem, and it has a rather silly sense of humour.
    • A particularly egregious (the word 'egregious' seems to crop up a lot on this page) example is the Priest in Peril quest, where your character is trying to find the missing priest Drezel in the temple of Paterdomus. The temple, as it turns out, has been taken over by a band of Zamorak monks who have imprisoned Drezel. When your character finds the front door locked, you are given the option to knock. The dialogue from the Zamorak monks is so jokey that it's hard to believe that the protagonist doesn't at least suspect that there's something up and it's not really Drezel telling him/her to kill the temple's guard dog. But you've got no choice but to do it anyway, and then be subjected to King Roald berating you for your stupidity. Otherwise, you'll never finish the quest, and never have access to Morytania and all its related places, mini-games, and quests.
    • Other examples aren't quite as bad. A player who hasn't read storyline spoilers might believe that a certain character in In Search of the Myreque is an ally of the Myreque and therefore be legitimately caught off guard when Venkstrom Krause is revealed as their enemy. Still, one would think the protagonist would become a bit more skeptical about certain things certain shady characters ask him/her to do, especially if the shady characters in question don't give a really good reason for doing those things.
      • But there are a lot of baddies who only have a Paper-Thin Disguise on. You'd think the PC would learn.
    • And what's especially weird is that some quests would require the player character to have a bit of intelligence, at least enough to realize that some of the things they do in other quests are completely stupid.
  • Gets used in a number of quest lines in World of Warcraft where the player is "tricked" into working to advance the bad guys' plots. Granted, the first time a player does this, it's probably a surprise, but given how the game encourages Alt-Itis, you still have to do the exact same quests the second (and third, and fourth...) times through. Teron Gorefiend is perhaps the quintessential example of this in Burning Crusade, with Drakuru in Wrath of the Lich King being a close second. There's also a minor example in the Night Elf starting zone, with a satyr who tricks you into slaughtering the local wildlife. Doing his quests is required to unlock the next series, in which he gets his comeuppance.
    • In fairness, the incident with the Satyr is hardly stupid, since this is the only time in the game that the countless quests involving killing wild animals are ever portrayed as bad.
    • And that's not even mentioning the Northrend quest-lines Horde players will pick up from the Royal Apothecary Society, helping them to perfect the plague they're planning to unleash indiscriminately against all sides.
  • One of the missions in Star Trek Online's "Cloaked Intentions" series begins with the player's ship (investigating the disappearance of another vessel) warping into the system to find a mysterious satellite surrounded by several drifting derelict hulks. Naturally, the only way to proceed is to fly right up to it, scan it with your sensors, and get stuck in the flypaper yourself.
    • Another mission has you following the orders of an admiral of Starfleet Intelligence on covert ops mission. The admiral joins you for the mission and orders you to do more questionable acts in the pursuit of your objective, including killing innocents. Not once are you allowed to disobey orders or even question them. At the end, guess what? Your admiral was an evil shapeshifting alien spy using you for his own diabolical ends! You are given no choice but to carry the Idiot Ball for the entire mission until he beams up after a brief firefight and gets away scott free.
      • A very recent mission has you doing an EVA on the hull of a space station, clomping around with magnetic boots. One section involves going through a damaged area with electrical discharged and burning plasma fired which you can easily just take another path to completely avoid, but the mission will not let you use a security panel you need to access unless you go through the hazards.
  • Played straight many times in The Lord of the Rings Online with most of the Epic quests. For the most part, you're just a silent accomplice who tags along to the NPCs in their utter idiocy, but one of the worst examples is when you actually do get a choice (spare the orc prisoner to use him for a hostage exchange or kill him because he's too dangerous to live), you are overruled if you say that he must die. To make it even worse, you're later (earlier) called out by Celeborn for making such a poor choice of allowing him to live! Sure enough, everything in the questline would have gone more smoothly if you had simply killed him when you first captured him.


  • Any Genre Savvy adventurer would destroy statues guarding a treasure BEFORE they came to life, but the enforced Genre Blindness turns into Stupidity Is the Only Option if there are several instances of such statues in the game and you can never do anything about them.

Platform Game

  • A few times in the Metroid series:
    • In Metroid: Fusion, there is a sequence in which Samus's escape route is blocked by rubble, forcing the player to find another escape route. The sole route available passes through a high security area for which you have no clearance. Several plot revelations later, you finally make it back to the main area to be informed that you will most likely be arrested for breaching a secure area.
    • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, while hunting down Gandrayda (a rival bounty hunter who has recently defected, and whom the introductory sequence has explicitly established as being a shapeshifter), Samus encounters a lone Federation Marine in the middle of the Space Pirates' home planet. He neither explains why he's there nor bothers to explain why, exactly, Samus should come with him, only that they "have to take the elevator to get out." His first transmission to the player, before one even sees him, has the player thinking "it's Gandrayda", and they're absolutely right.
    • Also in Corruption is a stage that requires you to call in your spacecraft to airstrike a shield generator. Said generator is surrounded by several blatantly obvious anti-aircraft cannons... but the doors leading out of the area are locked, and the game won't allow you to proceed until you actually call in your ship and get the crap shot out of it. At another point, you waltz into a secret Pirate lab with Metroids trapped in forcefield cages. When you find the local weapon upgrade, it's in a forcefield container. To get it, you have to disable all the forcefields, with predictable results.
  • Subverted in Psychonauts: In order to get the PSI blast power, Sasha Nein claims Raz has to defeat 1000 censors in his mind then walks off. The adjustable Mook Maker only goes up to about 40 before shutting down... and the only way to progress is to set it to the maximum level ominously marked with a skull, which causes all hell to break loose. Some platforming and a boss battle later, Sasha gives you the PSI blast power and tells Raz to never mention the incident again... however, if you go back to Sasha's mind afterwards, he will say he actually wanted Raz to overload the machine.
    • Raz still managed to do something unexpected by sealing off all the Censor outlets, though, because he admits that the Mega-Censor wasn't a part of the shooting gallery, and things got out of hand when it showed up.

Puzzle Game

  • One question in The Impossible Quiz 2 reads, "Press this button to kill yourself with death before the bomb does!" The idea of pressing a large button that clearly reads "DEATH" sounds outright stupid, but guess what? Clicking it is the answer to the question. And if you try to get clever and click the words "this button," you die.
  • Both Portal games make heavy use of this.
    • In Portal, during the Final Boss fight, GLaDOS is (inadvertently) giving good advice when she tells you to leave the "Aperture Science Thing-We-Don't-Know-What-It-Does" alone. However, your only choice if you want to proceed is to ignore her and dump it into the Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator.
    • Portal 2 both uses and averts this trope. Just prior to the first Boss Battle, you are presented with an incredibly Obvious Trap that you have no choice but to fall for; this is Lampshaded mercilessly by GLaDOS. Humorously, the trope is averted in several other instances where you are offered the opportunity to voluntarily walk into a Death Trap. If you choose to be an idiot and do it, you die, but are rewarded with achievements to celebrate your gullibility. GLaDOS lampshades one instance of this, pointing out that Wheatley's trap is the only way forward.
  • In 13th Skull, one of the games in the Mystery Case Files Ravenhearst arc, you experience the most blatant violation of the laws of common sense in the entire series. The player character receives confirmation that the people she's come to Louisiana to assist are actually con artists, thieves and murderers. The librarian who gives her this intelligence even says "You've got to get out of there!" Instead, she trots off to the swamp to confront them, only to be forced at gunpoint into finishing the game.

Real Time Strategy

  • Command & Conquer Red Alert 3: Uprising is so chock-full of this that it makes the Allies a Game Breaker. The VERY FIRST MISSION of the game involves using a tiny Soviet force to infiltrate a massive Allied base and rescue three scientists, then try to get them out of the base, presumably using some kind of stealth or strategy, and escape via boats. The ONLY option is to have the scientists run as fast as they can RIGHT THROUGH THE ALLIED BASE while under HEAVY ENEMY FIRE from artillery that, although sluggish in targeting, can kill ANYTHING YOU HAVE with one hit. The final moments of the mission are less Real-Time Strategy and more "Frantically double click the exit and scream at the scientists to run faster". It's possible to do this mission without succumbing to this trope, though it takes some micromanaging. The artillery tanks have a slow refire rate, take a moment to fire and for their missiles to land, and you can see what they're shooting at. Crucially, they also hate switching targets. Run a Conscript around near its maximum range - It's not going to hit the little guy, he's too fast at that distance - while a Tesla trooper waddles up next to it. Activate his EMP field and shut the tank down, then blow it up. With this strategy, it's possible to clear every gun on the field, as they're only rarely positioned to cover each other and when they do there's only two of them.
  • In Command & Conquer 3 during the GDI Sarajevo mission, you are ordered to fire your Ion Cannon on Kane's fortress. The fortress that's standing right next to a chunk of tiberium the size of an iceberg. Even if you have the fortress itself surrounded by your forces and could just sit it out. The result: BOOM. The purpose of forcing the player to do so was to set up the climatic choice at the end of the game, when you have to choose whether to use the Liquid Tiberium Bomb, thereby killing millions of people, or do things the hard way and save those lives.
  • In Haegemonia: Legions Of Iron you at one point receive an order from your supreme command to withdraw your forces to your home system. Upon arrival you learn that the order was falsified by the enemy who used the distraction to seize the system you were fighting them for. A neat trick, but how to ensure that a well-informed player doesn't ignore the false order? Simple. If you do that, then after some time the game ends as you are deposed and court-marshalled for disobeying an order... a sort of Schrodinger's Order.
  • The same but worse happens in Perimeter. You start a mission with an objective to destroy the enemy base and half-way through you are suddenly ordered to withdraw from the area. Worse part is that you actually can ignore the false order and carry on with trashing the enemy...which will count as defeat.

Role-Playing Game

  • Near the beginning of Tales of Symphonia, Genis wishes to visit a friend of his at the human ranch. Mere minutes before, the townsfolk informed him that doing so is against the rules. No matter how hard you (as Lloyd) try, you have no choice but to accompany him. The result of your actions? His friend dies, your hometown is destroyed, you are banished from the town, you become a wanted criminal, and Lloyd will angst about his failure at many opportunities in the future. Even worse, this event has little positive effect on the plot. It gives Lloyd a reason to follow Colette's group, but he was planning on doing so anyway. It seems that the only benefit to this railroad session is that Genis gets an Exsphere.
  • In Breath of Fire II, the heroes must pose as thieves and enter a thief base. At one point, there is a closed gate guarded by a single guy on the other side, who informs you that the switch to open the gate is located in a hole on the right wall. When you reach into the hole, a poisonous spider bites you and the thief tells you that a real thief would have known that it was a trap. Oddly, even if you know the trick beforehand, you will never be able to pass the gate without falling for it.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 3, Lan trusts a former terrorist from the first game and plants programs throughout the hero's base. They turn out to be bombs, and Lan angsts over his literally criminal stupidity. Curiously the fact that everyone else trusted this man, Mr. Match, aka Hinoken, to wander around the base unguarded isn't brought up. Even more impressive, he's still free in later games. As a teacher, no less. And no, he doesn't even use a fake name. This gets averted when Mr. Match teaches. 1 is that Mr. Match REALLY did change, and only teaches what he said he would, and 2 is that Lan/Netto is very hesitant to believe that Match REALLY did change this time around, but concedes after he both insists that Lan/netto use his navi as the operator and makes sure that he isn't going to be a pawn in another scheme.
  • Super Paper Mario:
    • There's a scene in Count Bleck's castle where the wizard Merlon shows up out of nowhere, and tells the player to hit a switch. Now, any player with a memory that works is going to know that it's really Mimi, the Count's shapeshifting minion, but you can't advance without following directions. If you press the issue, and speak to Merlon multiple times, he'll eventually say something about event flags. This particular event comes with a minor aversion, though. Earlier, this character asks you to fill out a survey of what you're most afraid of - and then fill up rooms with these things. You have the option of saying you have crippling aversions to healing items.
    • Earlier in the game, you come across an urn resting on top of a coin block. There appears to be nowhere else to go, aside from a section above you that requires you to jump on the block to reach it. In short, there is nothing to do but jump on the block or hit it. Either way, the urn falls and breaks, and you are accused of breaking it and forced to pay back its value if you wish to proceed. The rest of the chapter consists largely of paid slave labor. This one was also Mimi's doing. Basically, this seems to be Mimi's gimmick. She sets very obvious traps that you have to set off to keep the game going. Such as the time in Sammer's Kingdom where the Sammer King suspiciously shows up about 1/3 of the way through the chapter to just give you the Pure Heart. Instead of just giving it to you, he tells you that it's in that totally unsuspicious treasure chest that was just left on the arena.
    • Similarly, in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Crump places a trap in a room, badly-disguised as a pedestal of the kind used throughout that dungeon. In order to get through you have to get caught by the trap and use a new way out made by Crump. In another scenario, when preparing for a sea voyage, Lord Crump appears as a badly disguised crew member. When he's introduced, he'll loudly declare that he's a loyal crew member and then shouts for "You! Yes, you, on the other side of the screen! Don't tell Mario who I am!"
    • In the original Paper Mario, one of the Koopa Bros. is seen setting up a trap. It's completely obvious that this is a trap, even for new players. Of course, you still must activate the trap to continue the plot.
    • Look back as far as the original Super Mario RPG: early in the Moleville mines, you reach a circular dead end. There's a trampoline in one of the rooms, and the only way to get deeper into the mines is to jump on the trampoline, hit your head on the ceiling, and pass out. When you come to, all your money and items have been stolen.
    • After a Midbus fight in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Big Bad Fawful treats Anti-Hero Bowser to a large buffet of unhealthy food to celebrate. Even though it is entirely plausible and even likely, given the incidents that started the whole plot, that the food is drugged, you are still forced to approach and eat six of the dishes yourself. Naturally, it's a trap, though not necessarily in the way anyone expected.
  • In EarthBound, there are reports of a suspicious woman loitering outside the hotel in Threed. If you follow her inside, the hotel is suddenly abandoned (even the concierge at the front desk is missing) and the music is a warped, discordant perversion of the hotel's usual beguine. You are free to turn and run, but you can't progress in the game until you follow the woman all the way through the hotel, until she sics a group of zombies on you and locks you in a tomb in the local graveyard.
  • Baldurs Gate II: Throne of Bhaal:
    • The game features a painfully obvious Evil Plan user as its final villain, who you are able to interact with peacefully on multiple occasions. At no point can you point out her oh-so-obvious villainy to her or try to do anything about it, even as she just stands right in front of you.
    • In another example from the same game, you later encounter your foster father and mentor Gorion, whom you saw die in the beginning of the first Baldurs Gate, who starts lecturing you about the evils you've done. Given that your character has already been forced to endure a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip back in the first game (which you had the option to interrupt the moment it showed up), you'd think the main character would outright reject this one too and reply with a Talk to the Fist. But no. You have to sit through the entire several-minute long spiel, as will your Love Interest (despite one of them knowing Gorion as well and having canonically been there during the last Shapeshifter Guilt Trip). The kicker: If you have a high enough Wisdom, you can reject it as a lie... At the end of the tirade.
    • Another example from the first Baldurs Gate: many a player might very well break the ingenious code and guess that Koveras is really Sarevok. You still can't stop him from framing you though, or do anything about him when he's standing right in front of you in Candlekeep, alone, unarmored, and apparently unarmed as well.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
    • The next-to-last mission for the Fighters' Guild quest series has you infiltrating the Blackwood Company, the evil unscrupulous murderous puppy-kicking rival to the Fighters' Guild. Despite having been warned repeatedly that the Blackwood Company hires people out for any job, however illegal or unscrupulous, despite the fact that your sole mission in this company is to find any incriminating evidence against them, and despite the fact that you are handed a flask of what they tell you is a highly illegal berserker drug and ordered to drink it as part of your induction into the Blackwood Company. Needless to say, by the time you snap out of your drug-induced walking hallucination/berserker rage, you've helped massacre an entire village full of innocent people while under the delusion you were just fighting goblins. Well, hey, at least you got your evidence, right? Oh, wait. Your next mission is to now go back to the Blackwood Company hall (which you are now a deserter from, thus meaning you have to fight your way back in against the entire Blackwood Company staff in residence), go into the basement, and destroy their drug production lab. Granted, it's possible to play out that first bit of the aforementioned example without killing the villagers yourself. You still have to go back in and shut them down though. More specifically, you can leave the village during the attack without harming anyone.
    • Another Oblivion example is the sidequest "Where Spirits Have Lease". You're supposed to evict the spirit of an Evil Undead Wizard from a haunted house. When you find his tomb, he asks you to rejoin his hand to his body in order to give him rest. Any Genre Savvy player's first thought is, naturally, "Trap!" Naturally, you can't just toss his evil corpse into the river. You have to rejoin the hand, causing you to have to fight a very powerful lich in order to destroy the spirit. The spirit even lampshades your gullibility.
    • In one of the Mages Guild quests in Oblivion, you have to meet with the Count of Skingrad, and a man tells you to meet him at the Cursed Mine at 2:00 AM. You get attacked by a group of necromancers led by that same man, and when the Count shows up to save you he insults you for being so stupid.
      • Although the Count is hardly being fair. The man telling you to go to the meet is the Count's own seneschal, the Count is already well-known for never being available during daylight hours, and if we're stupid for trusting this guy once, then how stupid is the Count for hiring him?
    • At the end of the Dark Brotherhood questline in Oblivion it's revealed that you've been following the assassination quests of someone else and not your leader, through "deaddrop" notes. The stupid part? It's completely obvious that the sources for the letters have been switched after the first two. The first two letters contain a clinical mission objective (such as "Kill so-and-so) whereas the fake letters are in a handwritten font and have more personalised orders (such as "so-and-so is wanted dead because they did such-and-such). You have no choice but to follow the instructions of the obviously fake notes until the questline's conclusion, getting your leader and half the Dark Brotherhood's Elders killed in the process. Worse, when you "discover" (in-character) the betrayal by finding the impostor's diary (and his mother's decaying head), you then meet with the heads of the Brotherhood, who have killed your boss thinking he was the traitor. The diary you've read (and could very well be carrying on your person) explicitly states that he wasn't, and that one of the other leaders of the Brotherhood is. Nonetheless, there is absolutely no option to mention this to the heads of the Brotherhood, no way to show them evidence of your boss's innocence or the fact that the traitor was still among them. Instead you have to go with them to the Night Mother's shrine, exactly as the diary said the traitor was planning on, and allow the trap to happen. You can even take the decaying head out and show it to him. His dialog clearly shows that he is the only one affected by this, but you can neither tell the other members, nor do they notice his reaction.
    • The main quest in Tribunal, the expansion to Morrowind, is made of this trope. To progress in the game you must complete a series of morally dubious quests for two different people, one of whom is clearly losing her sanity, while the other makes no secret of the fact that he tried to kill you (to be fair to him, given that he knows that the player character knows that already, admitting * might* be seen as making him more trustworthy, not less). The player is given zero motivation to side with either of them, and it's not even a 'choose the lesser of two evils' situation - an entirely possible alternative is simply to ignore them both and leave. Except, of course, that you can't complete the game that way.
  • Darkstone has you retrieve a powerful artifact for someone who is obviously the vampire you've been hunting. Fortunately, Stupidity Is the Only Option for him, as well, and he celebrates his acquisition with a suicidal attack on your monster-slaughtering character.
  • Terranigma:
    • The game has a point where Ark meets a Mudman across a chasm who, once defeated, causes a causeway to appear and asks Ark to cross it in the creepiest voice possible in a text box, so he can give him something that clearly does not exist on the Mudman's abandoned side of the cliff. You have to cross the causeway, which the Mudman naturally causes to disappear again with you on it. And, in the beginning of the game, you are warned not to open a certain door. If you open it, what comes out will destroy your entire village. But if you don't, nothing will ever happen.
    • Also, at a certain point in the game, you have to sneak through a castle in which Meilin creates an illusion of your childhood friend trapped in a dungeon (who had NO way of getting there). Shortly after being rescued, Ark falls into exactly the same trap AGAIN.
    • At another point, you have to wake the evil Mad Scientist Beruga from his cryogenic sleep. If you don't, the plot stops advancing. If you do, Ark gets killed by Beruga's drones a minute later (but he gets better again afterward).
  • The entire sequence of events leading up to and after the boss battle at Jupiter Lighthouse in Golden Sun: The Lost Age. There are about a hundred things the hero could have done that would have been more intelligent than simply walking up to the bad guys with only half his party and bearing the MacGuffin they're after.
  • A lampshaded moment from Ultima VII here (linky.)
  • Few examples are more Egregious than one particularly bad scene in Wild ARMs: Princess Cecilia has a pendant the bad guys very clearly want called the Tear Drop. At one point, an evil army raids and burns her hometown just to try and get the Tear Drop. The King is fully aware of what they're after, and orders Cecilia (and the rest of your party) escorted to the most secure inner sanctum of the castle and watched by a team of armed guards so as to protect them and the Tear Drop from the invading hordes. Then, Cecilia has the brilliant idea that if all they want is the Tear Drop, then she can stop the slaughter and destruction of her people by giving it to them. Not only is this a blindingly obvious bad idea to absolutely anyone except, apparently, your party, and not only does the game force you to actually walk up to them and hand over the Tear Drop instead of seeing it in a cutscene, but the game goes as far as making you play a stealth minigame to sneak past the guards and escape the well-defended inner sanctum so that you can walk up to the enemy lines! Amazingly enough, it turns out later that letting them have the Tear Drop was actually a bad idea, and the way the King scolds you for this is incredibly annoying.
    • While handing them the Tear Drop was indeed a very bad idea, this isn't as bad as the usual MacGuffin trade. The demons were doing a darn good job of slaughtering townsfolk, and the fight you have with the demon boss makes it likely that they would have eventually destroyed the whole town, and the castle and gotten the Tear Drop anyway, Cecilia may have just prevented unnecessary loss of life. Of course, you spend half the game trying to get it back before it is used to restore the Big Bad to life.
  • Probably every Final Fantasy has at least one stupid trap the player must fall into.
    • Final Fantasy I has an elf king living in a decrepit castle in the middle of nowhere, who supposedly dropped his crown in a dungeon. Despite the party having - presumably - heard about how a random dark elf, Astos, stole Matoya's crystal ball, they go through the dungeon and give the elf the crown. Guess who the elf was.
    • Final Fantasy III has the heroes chasing a quixotic thief who has stolen one of the two legendary Horns of Ice. When the thief mysteriously vanishes, and the heroes return the horn to its partner, neither they nor the NPCs apparently notice the conspicuous shadow following them around...
    • Final Fantasy IV had a point where the villains demanded the last of the four crystals in exchange for the life of the protagonist's love interest. Instead of refusing or at the very least switching the real crystal out for a fake one like any other smart person would, our brainless heroes decide that the only option is to trade the world away for the life of one person.
    • Also in Final Fantasy IV, twice in the face of decisive battles, the party decides, "Let's make the women Stay in the Kitchen!" Yes, they're the game's best spellcasters and the only reason they have made it this far. The men decide big boss battles are exactly where not to bring the heal spells and earth-shattering summons. Even worse, the first time they do this they get their asses handed to them and still get one of the girls abducted, but learn absolutely nothing from it.
    • In Final Fantasy V, right after arriving in the second world, there is a scene where a monster kidnaps Lenna and Faris, and Bartz must fight it one-on-one so that he can be dragged off to the villain's hideout. Should he lose, he goes straight there, but if he wins, you'll be taken back to the area you were in, with a treasure chest that wasn't there before. It's quite obviously a trap (one containing sleeping gas, to be specific), but since Bartz can't leave the area and there's no other way to advance the story...
    • Final Fantasy VI has the part where the emperor pretends to be regretful for what he's done and to lock Kefka away, while commanding you to go make peace with the Espers. There is literally no reason for your characters to believe this guy who's been a villain the whole game, but every attempt to assign blame or reject him has a "But Thou Must" that sets you up for the sudden but inevitable betrayal. To add insult to injury, the entire *nation* is in on the conspiracy, despite being decimated.
    • Final Fantasy VII, for example, sports a scene where the perverted mob boss you just ruthlessly interrogated actually points out that the only reason he would give everything away so easily is because he was sure he would win. And then you get trapped. For added stupidity, the party was on their way to Sector 7 anyway, and it would be much easier to take the land route (and possible open the gate between Sectors 6 and 7, which is how Tifa got into Sector 6 in the first place) than to fall for that trap. All it took to get there was to just keep on walking and leave the lech to his own fate. Stupid, stupid Cloud.
    • Final Fantasy VIII exhibited this in the section near the end of the first disc where your party plans the assassination of the Sorceress. After being told to wait in a gate control tower so that they can lower the gate that the Sorceress's entourage is soon due to pass through, they decide that instead they should run off back to Rinoa's father's house to apologize for what one of the characters said earlier. The player is forced to get them to run across the city to get there, only for everything to go wrong, for that party to become trapped and eventually escape through an Absurdly Spacious Sewer to get back to their vantage point, just in time. Not that it works anyway.
    • In Final Fantasy X-2, you watch a sphere in which the two people doing terrible, horrible, very bad, no good things are instantly recognisable by their distinctive voices, but the characters Fail A Spot Check and decide to trust these people.
    • In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Echoes of Time, you have to help Larkeicus in return for his providing you with medicine... despite the main character having a recurring dream featuring him as an obviously evil figure since well before they met him. Unsurprisingly, this results in him doing evil things and everything going wrong. Somewhat justified since the plot centers around a Stable Time Loop; you are predestined to help Larkeicus, because every part of the main character's life up until this point is a direct consequence of Larkeicus's plot. Failure to help him would beget a Grandfather Paradox. As the hero, you receive a small crystal for your 16th birthday. You pull it out frequently. What happens when you do? An innocent little female friend of yours is cursed by a mysterious illness with no apparent cure, the evil mastermind you defeated mere seconds ago is resurrected and vows to annihilate you, and an ancient peaceful immortal is transformed into a gigantic insane electric flying bird monster that tries to kill you. Thanks for the gift, mom!
  • As a tactical game, Final Fantasy Tactics is made of this trope. Players who have beaten the game already will notice the traps a mile in advance, and they're everywhere. To name just one, the most obvious in this troper's opinon, every single villain in the fourth act claims to have Ramza's little sister, and of course, none of them do, but you have to fall into all the traps to advance the plot.
  • Pokémon Ranger:
    • The game features the four challenges of the Jungle Relic. The player goes in to test their skills but is repeatedly told not to complete the fourth challenge as doing so would cause some disaster to befall the region. After completing the three available challenges, which all involve capturing a tough Pokémon, your companion suggests that you look at - but not do - the last one. Once there, the villains announce their presence and tell you to capture a Charizard they found there. The one up-side is that you try to leave, your companion will tell you to go back and help the Charizard so you can at least blame them when things go to hell.
    • Also, in the sequel, any smart person would realize quickly that Kincaid is one of the bad guys. Yet you still have to respect him and everything until 'officially' finding out.
  • In Fallout 3, you venture into a Vault in search of your missing father. The vault's run by some friendly enough robots who assume you're simply a late arrival, and has a sophisticated set of sleeper pods at its centre, whose occupants are clearly in there for the duration. The only way to advance the main plot is to climb into a vacant pod and settle in for a snooze.
  • In Grandia: in the first area of the second disk, when you reach the second screen, directly in front of you is a badly concealed pit trap.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines the player is given the choice to side with one of a number of factions in the city. This is all well and good, except when you are forced to rat out Nines to the Prince for being at the home of a murdered Primogen as part of the Prince's plan to frame him. Never mind that there was a convenient vampire hunter there to pin it on and Nines was clearly Not Himself. Possibly justified in that the Prince may or may not have minor mind-reading powers along with his Dominate ability, but still pretty shaky. This is especially notable in that if you refuse to accept plot-critical missions from the Prince, he will eventually Dominate you into accepting. The developers could have easily avoided this piece of stupidity by adding the possibility to cover up for Nines, and then have the Prince go "I sense there is something else. Tell me the truth". Other examples include walking into the trap set by the Hengeyokai even though it's very obvious it's a trap, and being forced into the Mandarin's experiment.
  • The First ancient temple of Golden Sun. The class on field-trip made all the wrong choices to make when dealing with ancient ruins. Sometimes the player is asked "should we keep going" but gets shot down if the answer is the obvious "no". At some point it looked like the teacher might end up having some evil agenda, and he did make things really easy for the bad guys. Then later in some mining site, there's a sign that reads "don't touch wall". Guess what you have to do to continue on...
  • In Geneforge 5 the player is given the mission to track down the origins of an assassination attempt of a ranking member of the government, with explicit orders not to let that attempt be revealed to anyone. The clues lead to a fortification commanded by a general with the arrogant discrimination and control-freak methods typical of the culture, but the game cannot progress unless the players reveal their purpose for being there to the guy in charge. In spite of being the hardass overseer type he knows nothing about what's going on in his fort in this case, but suggests that he couldn't possibly know anything that might be going on in a deathtrap that has been barred to everyone, leaving him as the only one with the authority to enter. Maybe you should look in there, hero?

Guardian Makar: I'm pompous and I hate you.
Player: Oh. Someone tried to kill Astoria!
Guardian Makar: Really? Well, you came to the right person!

  • In the Fable II DLC, there's a mission where the player must purchase a cursed skull and remove the curse. When you use the skull, you are transported to another world where you immediately run across a spirit trapped in a giant skull-shaped statue. It declares that it was once a famous knight, trapped in the skull by an evil necromancer. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, it's really the necromancer. Predictably, there is no other option than to free him. Once you do so, he mocks you for being gullible and tries to kill you.
  • The only way to start the Devil social link in Persona 3 is to repeatedly dump money into an obvious investing scam, the social link character even calls you out on it! It was noted in the Let's Play of the game, where the Main Character pays him anyway merely out of the fact that his Dungeon-Crawling adventures meant that the amount was pretty negligible to him.
  • In Neverwinter Nights you are forced to let the obvious traitor steal the cure to the plague. Telling everyone about him doesn't work, obviously. But more egregiously, you are forced to let him get away. Attacking him doesn't work. If you manage to physically block his path by standing in front of the portal, everyone will just sit there until you let him run away. And in Shadows of Undrentide you have to step into the oh-so-obvious cage trap in the Kobold lair (it's got a glowing red arrow pointing into it, for Pete's sake) before the game will unlock a locked door and allow you to proceed further into the lair.
  • At one point in the third chapter of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, you beat Loki (who's famous for his illusions and trickery) in what seems to be an Anticlimax Boss. Then Nick Fury calls and tells you to collect 4 swords to get the armor Loki was trying to get, even though you would have absolutely no reason to do this. To nobody's surprise, this is a trick by Loki to get the armor. Naturally, you have to do this.
  • Star Ocean: The Last Hope at one point you apparently (it's actually an alternate universe) time travel to Earth in 1957 where you cheerfully agree to hand over your power source technology to a woman who may as well have "I AM A VILLAIN" tattooed on her face, she's so Obviously Evil. After only a few minutes of talk, at gunpoint, during which she promises to save the world with the technology and assures you that the party member she is holding prisoner is just fine. It doesn't occur to your character to confirm any of this before going further in your dealings with her. Instead you hand over the power source and are shown to the room where your party member is being held. It looks suspiciously like a cell and your party member is unconscious and appears to have been the victim of an "enhanced interrogation." Still no concern is shown by your character and your entire party crams into the cell to see her. The cell door slams and locks behind you. The villainess then proceeds to blow up the planet with your technology.
  • In a fitting turn of events in Demon's Souls, Patches the Hyena, one of the only NPCs you meet not out to drink your blood, who is skinny and evil looking sets you up twice, planning probably to have you killed and then loot your corpse. The first time you meet him, he gladly encourages you to walk under this rickety platform with a two ton flaming bearbug on top of it, which of course falls and then you have to kill it (it explodes like a nuclear weapon when you do, so you have to kill it and run), and he taunts you and runs away. When you find him in a separate world, he's standing before a pit, talking about the wondrous treasures down in it, and offers you to take a look. When you do, he kicks you in, and you get a wonderful Black Phantom fight. On the flip side, you also get to rescue Saint Urbain, who will allow the player to learn Miracles. Somewhat averted as both of these are optional.
  • In Mass Effect 2, when you rescue Jack you are forced to hit a button that releases every prisoner on the station, one of whom confessed to murdering about 20 people and blowing up a habitat, which he says is minor compared to most of the guys around.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In the Silverite Mine in Awakening, a large and conspicuous cement disk just inside the entrance would strike any seasoned adventurer as highly suspicious. There is plenty of space to navigate around it, but the game combines this trope with Gameplay and Story Segregation so that when halfway past it with clear intent not to step on it, a Cutscene is triggered in which your character and party do exactly that.
    • In a lot of the sidequests in Dragon Age you have roadside encounters with bandits or smugglers you know you have to eliminate, while they don't necessarily know why you're there. But even if you place your party tactically around the battlefield beforehand, once you trigger the cutscene by talking to the leader, your whole party is teleported back together, right in the middle of the enemies' crossfire.
  • In the Knight chapter of Live a Live, Straybow casts a spell on you, so that you see the good king as the demon king, the villain of the chapter (Or at least that's what everyone believes). They could have just made the protagonist walk up to the "demon king" in a cutscene, but no, you have to actively walk into him and engage him in battle because you can't progress otherwise.
  • This is a strategy in the Yu-Gi-Oh! games. If your opponent has a face-down monster on the field, you may be forced to attack it, despite this usually being a very obvious trap. If you don't destroy it, your opponent will simply flip it on the next turn, activating its effect, and then sacrifice it to summon an even stronger monster. Also seen with trap cards, where they're very obvious, but often time, if you don't set them off, you can't go any further.
  • Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure has the protagonist cheerfully walk through a "spa" that is blatantly preparing her as a meal for the monsters inside.
  • In Dragon Quest VI, there is a treasure chest at the bottom of a lake. An NPC says that he would "sell his soul to the dark side" to see the lake drained and asks you whether you would do the same. Even though you are in the realm of a mighty force of evil and are given various clues that he or some of his servants are listening to this conversation, you must say that, yes, you would, in order for the game to progress. However, in order to avoid a loop of the same scene, you must take the longer way down to the chest, opening it without talking to anyone, else they'll just be killing each other and, ultimately, you'll have to fight and kill one of the people there, restarting the scene.

Simulation Game

  • In Ace Combat 6 the player must disobey orders whether he wants to or not, an action that proves to be a bad move as the command had a reason to tell you to retreat (Turns out the enemies had a bioweapon that they were going to use if they were losing too badly. ).

Sports Game

  • In Tony Hawk's Underground, the player is forced to forgive and trust Eric Sparrow, a supposed friend, even after he attempts to screw the player out of an amateur tournament registration, later tries to prevent him from reaching pro rank and even later acts like a complete jerk towards the main character. At least, the game lets you finally stop trusting Eric Sparrow after he gets you involved in a diplomatic incident with Russia that ends up with the character kicked out of the skateboarding team and forced to leave the country by his own means.

Stealth Based Game

  • Metal Gear Solid: some genius decided that the nuclear weapon keycard should be a toggle between "armed" and "disarmed", which can only be used once. Guess what state the nuclear weapon's really in when you rush to the control room to deactivate it. The closest thing you can get to an alternate ending is jumping into the nuclear furnace, switching the game off, and never playing it again. There's, then again, the fact that the entirety of all four games are essentially being a puppet to whatever Conspiracy Kitchen Sink is currently in charge. It doesn't matter that killing a certain person or stopping someone else's plans only serves to increase their power, you are required to do it. Almost as if they're controlling you as well...
  • Assassin's Creed runs rampant with this, though justified in a way by how the main character is reliving and re-enacting something that already happened in the past, and must go along with historical events.
    • At the beginning of the game, Altair brazenly displays his Jerkass-ness by openly attacking Robert de Sable after announcing his presence, though this is to show just how over-inflated his ego is, as the rest of the game is about Altair learning from his mistakes and overcoming his own pride and hubris.
    • Later, in Jerusalem, Altair has to walk into a trap set up by Talal, the slave-trader he's been sent to kill.
    • Toward the end of the game, Altair is once again sent to assassinate Robert de Sable, and in order to trigger the cutscene to enable the assassination, he must enter a funeral procession. The entire funeral is one big trap.
  • In Thief: The Dark Project, the preliminary missions end and the main plot arc begins when you accept a mission from a mysterious man named Constantine to steal an artifact gem known as the Eye, the offered fee being more money than an entire army of thieves could steal in a lifetime. Despite finding out, as the next several missions progress, that the Eye is sealed in a cathedral in the abandoned, zombie-infested quarter of the city, that the Eye is a sentient magic item that talks to Garrett in his head and tries to get him killed, and that the cathedral in question was sealed away by a mysterious sect of hidden protectors known as the Keepers (that Garrett, as a former member of, knows just exactly how serious their duties are and what sort of threat it takes to make Keepers consider interfering in events at all), requiring Garrett to retrieve four artifact keys hidden with three separate factions at enormous expense and effort in four widely separated locations... not once throughout this entire chain of events does it even begin to cross Garrett's mind that maybe, just maybe, any magical artifact that people have gone to this much effort to bury should stay buried. Instead, in order to progress to further chapters, the protagonist must carry the Eye back to Constantine. Who, of course, immediately reveals himself as an evil deity bound in human form, thanks you for retrieving the artifact, and embarks on his long-delayed plan to destroy the world. Oh, and he tries to kill you. And you don't get paid a dime. You'd think Garrett would have been able to see it coming, really. The ancient Hammerite Cathedral even has a sign hung on the outside that says "Warning: Great evil resides in this place, and it is no longer fit for men. The doors are sealed to protect us from that which lies within. Do not remain here.", and the game's storyline still has Garrett not stopping to think about this. Even for a second. And about Constantine, he has a whole "plants growing" motif in his introductory cutscene when the local Satan figure is a malevolent nature deity. Making it even less surprising when he turns out to be said Satan figure.

Survival Horror

  • In Resident Evil 5, Chris and Sheva enter a corridor that has very obvious pressure plates along the floor. Any normal person would be able to step over them or shimmy along the wall to avoid them. You, of course, can only walk straight into them, triggering a quicktime event of avoiding the ensuing traps.
  • Silent Hill 1 has an interesting variation in that it doesn't actually feel like stupidity on the main character's part, even though you'd see it clearly as a bad idea if you didn't have to do it yourself. The player character has entered a deserted hospital, explored every possible room of the first floor, then gone down to the basement and restored power to the lift. You take it up to the second floor, find all the doors leading away from the lift area locked, then go up to the top floor, and find the same thing. With nowhere else to go, you go back to the lift, and a fourth button has appeared on the panel. Pressing it transports you away into the town's other dimension.
    • We can only imagine how creepily obvious this was for the original Japanese gamers- as if it wasn't bad enough that an additional floor has apparently appeared out of nowhere, in Japan hospitals never have a 4th floor (sometimes even skipping straight from 3 to 5) because in Japanese, Four Is Death.
    • The second game has an absolutely stellar example in protagonist James, who not only doesn't flee screaming from the eponymous town after being attacked by an acid spewing thing wrapped in his own skin, but whose reason for being there is searching for someone who (he believes) has been dead for three years. This is deliberate however, being a fairly obvious hint that James is not exactly sane.
    • The obvious example from the second game is the infamous scene where James reaches into the hole in the wall, a move that a more Genre Savvy character would do well to avoid.
    • And then there's the series of seemingly bottomless pits that you have to jump into in order to progress through a later area of the game. And this is after James has found a note addressed specifically to him, warning him that very bad things will happen if he keeps up his search.
  • Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game): Dark Corners of the Earth has a house with a growling, unruly thing locked behind a door in an upstairs room. Everyone tells you not to free it. The game is extremely Rail Roaded, so guess what you have to do.
    • There's also the hotel in which you stay on your first night in Innsmouth. The developers must have been worried that some players wouldn't pick up the atmosphere of "subtle" menace that suffuses the place, its proprietor, and every line of dialogue he speaks, so they helpfully included an easily accessible (almost impossible to miss, really) room full of hacked-up human bodyparts, complete with a bloodstained journal recounting the hotel owner's murders. So naturally you go to your room and curl up for a good night's rest, unconcernedly talking to yourself about how you're not likely to find a better place to sleep. Guess who tries to do what to you later that night. (Although staying on the streets of Innsmouth at night is hardly a better option than the hotel.)
  • In The Suffering: Ties That Bind, in order to get to the Big Bad, you must leap into a pit that just manifested not one, but two horrific demonic adversaries. Not to mention it being similar to other pits which have spewed deadly horrors. Belly-flopping into a three-foot deep pool of toxic sewage is just a goofy bonus.
  • In the 2004 flash horror game Exmortis, the protagonist reads two separate journal accounts of people who read the English translation of the Exmortis and were subsequently plagued by unspeakable horrors, their lives taken and ruined by supernatural forces. So naturally when you finally come across the book, the only option to move the game forward is to read it yourself.
  • Eternal Darkness: "Should Paul claim the Tome of Eternal Darkness?" Paul is a Franciscan monk. No. No, he really shouldn't claim the evil book of sorcery bound in human skin and found in an extradimensional mausoleum where the floor is made of the screaming souls of the damned. It ends very badly for him.
  • Subverted in Metro 2033. On the way to your heroic journey to Polis Station, you must cross a warzone between the Fourth Reich and the Red Line. This looks like a setup where poor Artyom is going to have to slink between two heavily armed, trigger-happy factions, which, indeed, you can do. However, exploring reveals a shortcut that easily bypasses moving through the poorly-lit warzone.

Third-Person Shooter

  • The Matrix: Path of Neo features a notable aversion. You have the option of following Morpheus' directions all the way out of the office building, breaking from the movies' plot and evading capture by Smith and his merry band of agents, culminating in your escape with Trinity via motorcycle. If you pull it off, you're rewarded by unlocking the Hard mode.
  • When you finally defeat the Big Bad in Rune at the foot of his evil patron god, instead of beheading him or something you allow him to stumble into Loki's blood and become a nigh unstoppable undead fiend who leaps out of the chamber you're fighting in to taunt you and then tromp off to bring about Ragnarok. Not content with such a small dose of idiocy, your character then refuses to clamber over an Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence to pursue him, refusing to leave the room until you jump into the previously deadly pool of green blood (in spite of Loki's mockery) and become a hulking soulless outcast. While this does make it much easier to defeat your enemies ( and you get to go to Valhalla anyways), your character had no way of knowing he'd still have his free will after being transformed.
  • At one point in Red Dead Redemption, you're informed that the Mexican Army has captured two of the fugitives you've spent the entire game pursuing and are holding them in a church for you to pick up. Of course, they've actually just found out you aided some rebels they were fighting, and are planning to ambush you the moment you walk in. Despite the fact that Captain De Santa is acting very odd, and Marston himself is extremely suspicious of the whole thing, you nonetheless are forced to enter the church, where you are promptly knocked out.
  • At the start of Chapter 3 in Max Payne 2. The player is trapped in the precinct morgue, wounded and unarmed, while a mook outside the only exit calls for backup and starts pounding on the door, demanding to be let in. What do you do instead of letting the obvious get-captured-break-out FPS spiel happen? Kick the door open (sending the mook flying on his ass) and make a run for it. Your pursuer makes a very good point:

Mook: How stupid can you get, you were safe in there, you stupid fuck!

    • Less Stupidity and more Necessity: Max is trapped in the morgue, with no other exit, and he very clearly heard the mook outside the door calling for reinforcements to come and break the door down, and then kill him. They had no intention of capturing whatsoever. So, he does the only thing he can, and makes a break for it before the reinforcements show up.

Visual Novel

  • Fate/stay night does this a lot. Not joining a highly dangerous war you'll probably die in gets you killed. Not taking a blow for your (much more powerful than you) Servant gets you killed. Staying away from a dangerous fight, like your Servant told you to, gets you killed.
    • In fact, Taiga even cheerfully tells you in the Have a Nice Death segments that you should be as stupidly heroic as possible or you're going to die. For the Fate route, anyway.
    • It's worth noting that Shirou, the viewpoint/PlayerCharacter, has a spiritual/psychological complex which means that from his point of view, many of these things actually fit his motivations and morals. There's something to be said about playing the game in-character.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, if you want to go to Emi's path, you must overexert yourself during the second day on the track, which causes you to have a heart murmur.

Non-video game examples


  • The choose-your-own-adventure series of Goosebumps books, called Give Yourself Goosebumps, always had the first choice in the story be about whether or not to do the Too Dumb to Live action that gets the player character in the mess in the first place. If you choose not to do it, the page you are told to flip to has some sort of "What's wrong with you? You are too chicken/boring to do anything fun, this book isn't for boring people like you!" message, and then makes you go to the page in which you do the stupid option anyway.
    • Probably the most blatant one is the one named Don't Eat the Purple Peanut Butter. Come on, people, how stupid do you have to be?!

Web Comics

  • In The Order of the Stick, Genre Savvy Spoony Bard Elan figures that if there is a trap set for them, they were meant to fall in it and doesn't leave the trap. His friends assume he's stupid, leave the trap, and get beat up. When they're all captured and he's the only one that didn't need to be beaten up, Elan has trouble resisting the urge to say "I told you so.".

Western Animation


Robin: It must be a trap.
Batman: Must be. But what other choice do we have?

  • The Spectacular Spider-Man has a similar quote to the Batman one above with Spider Man and Tombstone when the are going after the Green Goblin.