An ending is never truly an ending—it's just somewhere that feels like the best place to leave off; and in a story, sometimes the ending is the best part. When we're pages deep into a great story, or hours into a fantastic game, a great ending is almost always needed, as it's the culmination of the time we've spent in the story.
While I truly do believe that in an adventure sometimes the fun part is more so the ride, rather than the destination, a good ending certainly makes the adventure feel like it meant so much more. It gives us the final reasons why our adventure was so important, why it was worth it to fight hundreds of turtles and a scaly-backed dinosaur creature. Or why it was worth it to endure a series of puzzles brought upon you by some seriously sarcastic robotic machine.
A great ending reminds us of the purpose why we continued to pursue through great stories, and that's why nothing is worse than getting a bad ending. Seeing your pursuits lead up to some half-baked cliffhanger, or maybe just a conclusion that feels rushed or convoluted. Your last impression of this great story is something terrible, and hopefully, it doesn't ruin the whole experience for you, but it sure does taint it.
That's why today we're going to look at the games that stuck the landing and delivered to us a fantastic ending to wrap up our adventures; and the games that truly missed the marks with their conclusions.
30 Best: Red Dead Redemption
We figured it’d only be right to start this list off with Red Dead Redemption since its sequel looks to be one of the most anticipated games of this year. The ending for the first Red Dead is definitely bittersweet when it comes to endings—but it’s honestly so good that I usually refuse to spoil it, for anyone.
Even if I know friends are not very likely to play the game, I avoid spoilers just for that 1% chance that they try it out.
All I can say is this is one phenomenal ending and one that may bring you to tears.
29 Disappointing: Fallout 3
This one is sure to be a little controversial, and even though Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games, I just can’t help but be a bit disappointed by its ending. Let me first start off with letting you know that I absolutely love this game despite what fans have said over the years.
But the ending always falls flat for me—first off, you’re leading this giant robot down a street (which is initially cool) but everything gets boring as you realize you have to do nothing. Oh, and the final scenes can lose their punch when you send your companion in to do everything.
28 Best: Last Of Us
It feels weird putting a game on here that I’ve never played, but I’ve just heard too much praise about this game to not include it on this list.
Even for someone who has yet to play the game, I’m constantly annoyed by friends telling me how amazing this game is and how emotionally ravaging the ending is.
From what I’ve seen, it’s almost as if the ending is written for an Oscar-winning movie. It just seems so realistic, and so different from what you see in any video game. We definitely recommend buying a PS4/3 for this one.
27 Disappointing: Super Mario 64
This one always irked me as a kid—playing endless hours of a game, fighting goombas, chain chomps, and huge dinosaur creatures only to get a kiss on the nose from Peach.
Sure, I was mostly distracted wiping the sweat off my fingers from that last boss fight to even care much about the ending. But it still sucked to get no grand reward or even a proper smooth from Peach. Super Mario 64 is definitely a game more focused on the adventure over the destination.
I guess the cake that Peach bakes was enough to get me genuinely excited for saving her, but overall it’s a disappointing reward.
Art by JJsonicblast86.
26 Best: Batman: Arkham City
Easily one of my favorite games of all time, and a lot of that has to do with that mic drop of an ending. Arkham City sets you in an enclosed city that functions as a prison—and from there, things only get more interesting.
Every one of Batman’s villains play a part in the story, and by the end of it your hit with so many twists and turns that you don’t even know how this game will come to an end. And trust us, when you get to that end, you’ll be in tears seeing where the story finally decides to conclude.
25 Disappointing: Batman: Arkham Asylum
Since we’re already talking about Batman, it’s only fair to bring up other entries in the series—including the first game installment.
Before you light your torches and sharpen your pitchforks for this game’s inclusion, I’ll just say that this game is from start to about the finish one of the best games ever.
But when you look at the ending it just isn’t as great, or enthralling as the rest of the story. Essentially, you fight a roided up Joker (which seems out of character for him) and then you beat him leaving the end somewhat anticlimactic.
24 Best: Halo Reach
This was Bungie’s final hoorah before they left Microsoft to create the Destiny series. And Bungie sure found a way to leave the Halo franchise with a bang. The multiplayer was great, the forge was next level, and the single player was heart-wrenching.
You go through mission after mission losing comrades left and right—seeing them sacrifice themselves just so you can see the mission through.
And if that’s not enough to bring you to tears, the final mission involves you trying to survive for as long as you can before you’re eventually overwhelmed only to join your fallen comrades.
23 Disappointing: Skyrim
You know what I remember about Skyrim? The lush environments, the endless amounts of quests, the ferocious enemies, and unironically, the dank memes. But what I don’t remember is the ending. Nobody, and we seriously mean nobody brings up the ending, and for good reason.
This is probably one of the most forgettable endings in the history of a great game.
I’ve finished the game twice, and one of those times was very recent and I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened at the end. I can recall fighting a dragon dude, saving Skyrim, and going back to annoy some guards after, that’s really it.
22 Best: Undertale
Fandom aside, this game is a masterpiece. At this point you have to treat Undertale like Rick and Morty, just appreciate the substance and ignore the fanbase as much as you possibly can. So we hope you aren’t ignoring this game based purely on their fans like I initially did, because this game and its ending are one-of-a kind.
I truly can’t remember ever, EVER, playing a game like this. Every decision matters, every choice matters, and it all adds up to what happens in the end. Although it has multiple endings, each one in its own way is amazing.
21 Disappointing: Mass Effect 3
Well, you can’t really have a list of disappointing endings without mentioning Mass Effect 3.
Having only played the first game of this franchise, I’m definitely no expert in what makes it so bad, but since I’ve had plenty of friends to complain about its terrible ending I think I have a good enough grasp to explain why it was so hated on.
Mass Effect is a series renowned for giving players choices, and consequences for their choices. Though, it seemed that the ending for Mass Effect 3 stripped all that away and gave fans an ending that was beyond disappointing for most fans.
20 Best: Grand Theft Auto V
Though it’s another game that is stricken with multiple endings—the general consensus is that all these endings provide a fantastic conclusion for our characters. Most of the endings include a bittersweet finale for most of our characters as Franklin (you) can easily betray one of your partners only to lead them to their demise.
But Grand Theft Auto V really shines with the choices you’re given to complete the game.
If you want the best possible ending, you can join up with Trevor and Michael and make it out of the game without losing any of your buddies.
19 Disappointing: Life Is Strange
This game took everyone by surprise by incorporating Telltale’s award-winning formula but mixing it with a story that’s a lot more down to earth, and personable.
The game was definitely a blast, playing as the witty yet shy Max Caulfield as she navigates herself through her dreaded life as a college student.
It’s a game where choices once again matter, but the game leads you up to this climatic ending only to fall flat. The reasons being, that the choices just feel so “meh,” either choice leads to a disappointing ending that really just makes you feel lukewarm on the game.
18 Best: Super Mario Galaxy
As much as I wanted to put Super Mario Odyssey on this list, as I finally got around to beating it (and loving the heck out of it), the best game, and the best ending, still belongs to Super Mario Galaxy.
The final levels of the game are some of the best in Mario history and the final boss fight, while always with the same scaly-backed dinosaur, is still one heck of a memorable fight.
I debated whether to include the first or the second game, but the first game truly stands out with Rosalina explaining the intricacies of the universe and Mario shouting out “Welcome to Galaxy!”
17 Disappointing: Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor
This was another game on this list that truly took the gaming world by surprise. In a shockingly slow year for gaming, it was Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor that truly stole the show for the year.
The game’s nemesis system was something so cutting edge for a game that I still have fun going back to it every now and then to take down some of the captains.
The only flaw I can find in the game is its ending—which is really just an overhyped quick-time event. The ending sees you go against Sauron! And it somehow still fell flat.
16 Best: South Park: The Stick Of Truth
No joke, this ending is gold. Not only do you get to fight Chef, now resurrected as a zombie, you also get to fight a second boss who takes the name of “Big Bad Government Guy.” And to somehow make it even better, this Big Bad Government Guy is proclaiming that you’re the Dragonborn and your real name is Dovahkhin.
It honestly only gets better from there, as this is one ending that certainly feels like a troll among video game endings.
But it’s the lack of seriousness that truly cements this as one of the best video game endings.
15 Disappointing: Borderlands
For me, personally, a bad video game ending falls into two categories: one that is just convoluted and truly disappointing or one that is forgettable and rushed. Borderlands falls into the latter half of those choices as it’s truly an ending that is hyped up, only for it to be pretty lame.
Throughout the whole game, the vault is being hyped up to you as this mythical place where the greatest loot is obtained.
Only the loot there is honestly really mediocre, and it feels like one of the most disappointing parts of the game.
14 Best: Portal 2
“SPAAAAACEE!” Portal 2 is a game that finds a way to balance dark comedy, head-throbbing puzzles, and a story that forces you to never put down the controller. And after you beat the game, you will truly believe it’s one of the best games of all time.
In the end, you go against your previous best bud Wheatley, as you enlist the help of your greatest foe, Glados, in this truly epic conclusion.
The moments in this game’s end are some of my favorite moments in gaming, period. This is a must-play game; jump on the Steam sale if you still haven’t tried this out.
13 Disappointing: Ghosts N’ Goblins
Maybe one of the meanest things that was ever done in a game, and definitely the meanest thing that Capcom has ever done in a game. Ghosts N’ Goblins is truly a game for you Dark Souls and Cuphead fanatics, as it’s a game that punishes you with its difficulty.
It’s truly a fun game, offering a run and gun type of experience that has you fight a wave of devils and demons. But the ending is where things get truly devious, because after beating the final boss you realize the entire game was a dream, and you have to play the ENTIRE game again to get the real ending.
12 Best: The Walking Dead
It feels a bit cliché to put this game on this list because it’s probably involved on every list for best game endings. However, even though the game is bragged about on a constant basis, it’s still one of the best endings in gaming history.
Here we get one tear-jerker of an ending, and one that caused gamers to talk about for years to come.
I can still remember all the awards this game came away with, and that melancholic, tear-jerker of an ending played a huge part in all of that.
11 Disappointing: Fallout 4
I feel bad for including three Bethesda games on this list, but more often than not this company finds themselves lost when it comes to ending a game. If this list was longer I’d have no problem putting all three of the main 3D Fallout games on here as I think the weakest parts of each of those games is the ending.
Though Fallout 4 might be my least favorite out of the group—thanks to the choices you’re given, or should we say lack of.
Each of the endings is disappointing and we hope Bethesda gets better at finishing games off in the future.
10 Best: Silent Hill 2
Man oh man did this game keep me up at night. I didn’t even get to finish the game until I got older and just brave enough to return to Silent Hill. Now, when it comes to the endings, it’s truly a love them or hate them kind of relationship as some of them are just a total head wreck.
The endings are just so "out there" especially with endings like the UFO ending and the dog ending. You're scared for the entirety of the game and by the time you hit the end you're served something that’s sure to throw you for a loop.
9 Disappointing: Asura’s Wrath
This game is a gem, and there truly aren’t many games like this in the world. Asura’s Wrath is a rollercoaster of a ride. It has you play as Asura, and you’re basically unleashing your wrath, hence the title.
The game starts you off in what feels like an ending to a game as you fly through space destroying fleets of ships with your immense power.
It’s a game meant for lunatics, but unfortunately, the game’s end has to be on this list. The game received a ton of flak for making you purchase the true ending, and for us, that’s a no go.
8 Best: Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
This was it; this was THE Call of Duty game to rule them all. When this game came out people went absolutely bananas, and rightfully so. The game gave us some of the most innovative multiplayer to date, and gave us a single player experience that none of us will ever forget.
This single player was just so jam-packed with moments that I don’t even know where to begin.
But the ending to this story is just one of my all-time favorite parts, and it features Captain Price throwing a Deagle to you and slow motion only for you to take out the baddies.
7 Disappointing: Assassin's Creed 3
To be honest, there are plenty of disappointing Assassin’s Creed games, and there are even more disappointing endings littered throughout the franchise. Initially, I wanted to put the first game’s ending on this list, but I truthfully believe the third game delivers one of the worst endings in the franchise.
Usually, the modern day stuff in Assassin's Creed ruins the fun, but in this game, it’s turned up to Defcon 9.
The modern-day stuff is beyond annoying, and what makes it worse is the assassin stuff is pretty underwhelming as well.
6 Best: BioShock Infinite
These games are truly fantastic; it almost feels as though you’re playing a work of art rather than playing a video game at times. The worlds are enriched with detail and the games deliver some of the best stories in gaming history.
While the first game is my favorite in the franchise, the ending to BioShock Infinite is one of the best endings of all time.
This is the Inception of game endings and delivers something confusing, but something so profound at the same time that I was almost brought to tears at what I was witnessing.
5 Disappointing: Halo 2
It’s time to “Finish this fight!” Oh, except really it isn’t, because this game’s gonna leave us off on a cliffhanger. Truthfully, I kind of like the Halo 2 ending as I find its ambiguity a great reason to pick up where the story left off in Halo 3.
But for those who played the game when it released, it must have been dreadful seeing the story end like that. We get to see each one of our heroes in a desperate position where they might be in over their heads, but shortly after the game cuts to black.
4 Best: Shadow Of The Colossus
Thank you, Sony, for remaking this game. It’s just too dang good for people to sleep on it. I know I’ve used heart-wrenching to describe a lot of these endings, but those endings are nothing compared to the ending in Shadow of the Colossus.
This is storytelling at its finest, and I still get surprised at seeing how everything unfolds.
The final moments of this game are absolutely soul crushing and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an ending that has hit so hard.
3 Disappointing: Mirror's Edge
The new game was more so regarded as an overall disappointment, but the old game was loved by all kinds of gaming fans. Mirror’s Edge felt fast, frantic, and extremely fun. Running off walls, and karate chopping bad guys like this was something that gamers were absolutely falling in love with. So it’s a shame that the ending was such a letdown.
Though I’m coming to realize that the story, in general, was pretty much a mess in Mirror’s Edge so that’s probably why the ending followed suit.
2 Best: Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Duh. Even though this list was in no particular order, it goes without saying that Ocarina of Time has one of the most legendary endings in any game ever. This game only gets better and better with time as the ending and the game itself have held up year after year.
It’s almost as if this game had the budget of a movie, because it just feels so grand, and so perfect.
All we can say is that out of everything on this list, the ending for Ocarina of Time just feels like the king among kings.
1 Disappointing: Batman: Arkham Knight
This game was pretty polarizing for the gaming community, as I found that either people loved it or kind of hated it. I kind of found my way into the middle of all that, but after the ending, I definitely fell into the hate category.
The game looked beautiful and was fun to play, but it felt much more flawed than most Batman games.
With its repetitive gameplay and lackluster story, it seemed like this game was one straw of hay before the camel's back was broken. That straw came in the form of the ending which couldn’t truthfully be completed without completing EVERYTHING in the game.