There was a time in video games where a death scene was nothing more than an afterthought. Much of this was to do with the limited processing power and hardware of the time, but it was also because developers were far more focused on gameplay than the game over screen. And then something changed.
Maybe it was when Pac-Man died, and his death animation was to essentially eat himself from the inside out (almost made this list), but death became much more important. In more recent times Mortal Kombat upped the ante with its unique take on how a fighting game should end. Not in honor of victory, but in pulling the spine out of your opponent's torso.
Since then it seems that being bizarre and disturbing is the new trend. Some moments are on the list because they happen out of left field, some are on here because they are emotionally powerful, while others are just plain gruesome. That being said, all of them have pushed the envelope in some way or another. In many ways, these deaths are important. By pushing at these boundaries video games have become as important a media in modern society as film and TV. This wouldn't be possible if we didn't have deaths that mattered, resonated, or repulsed.
Even so, it is still weird that Pac-Man ate himself.
15 B. Orchid's Death By Breasts
Even after a reboot in 2013, you don't hear many people talking about Killer Instinct. While Rare's fighting franchise seems to have been permanently pushed into the shadow of the flashier (and better marketed) Mortal Kombat, it will always be known for having one of the most bizarre finishing moves found in a fighting game date.
When taking on the B. Orchid character in a battle to the death, one could expect her finisher to be as brutal as the rest of the game. Instead, she sends you to your grave by flinging back her head and ripping open her shirt to cause almost instant death by boobs. At least we assume it is boobs as the contents under the shirt are never directly revealed to the player.
There are definitely worse ways to go.
14 The Flying Death In Red Dead Redemption
This death is disturbing because, in all honesty, it is just so sad and unneeded.
In the mission "Deadalus and Son" in Red Dead Redemption you are tasked with finding a number of items to help an early pioneer in his quest for flight. It is the usual Red Dead style of mission where foraging for herbs and hunting random animals is the key to completing the task at hand.
The inventor of this flying machine - Charles Kinnear - is clearly an eccentric in the best way possible. After giving Kinnear time to complete his machine, you can watch as he takes to the sky, only to quickly crash land and die hundreds of feet below the cliffs after his machine fails. The machine will remain in that spot for the rest of the game prolonging the sadness of the event.
13 Cartherine's Brutal End
Catherine is a super creepy sort of puzzle/platformer hybrid that everyone needs to play once, before locking the game in the freezer and never talking about it again.
Much of the main body of the game takes place in the daytime where you interact with other characters and generally progress the story that sees the main character (Vincent) choosing between two women. While this is clearly a dilemma of epic proportions, it is the nighttime sequences - sequences that take the form of wild supernatural nightmares - that cement Catherine on this list.
There are numerous bosses in the game that you have to climb away from. All are creepy, but knowing that one boss is named "Child with a Chainsaw" should be enough to keep you up at night to avoid a disturbing death.
12 Ninja Gaiden Arcade's Nightmare Continue Screen
There were many arcade games that would play with your emotions to draw an extra quarter or two from your wallet. The continue screen quickly moved from a simple countdown timer to something a little more tied into the mythos of the game when companies realized that it was much more effective. That is why we have this horrible and disturbing Ninja Gaiden screen.
Seemingly being killed in the game, what actually happens when your health depletes to zero is that the nameless blue ninja is captured by the evil cult (it is always them) that you are fighting. In the second between death and the countdown screen, the ninja is apparently tied to a table as a lowering circular saw ticks down to your doom. It is a terrifying visual that the most despicable James Bond villain would be proud of.
11 Rain's Animality In Mortal Kombat III
Somewhere along the way, the sadistic folks over at Midway Games decided that the stunningly brutal fatalities that had been created for the Mortal Kombat franchise just weren't horrifying enough. That is when they decided to bring animals into the mix and the next level horror that is the animality was created.
Not content with playing on everyone's fear by having snakes and spiders murdering your vanquished foe, Mortal Kombat III saw a number of usually peaceful and pleasant critters getting in on the act. The most bizarre of these was the cute little elephant that Rain morphed into in order literally blow the skin off of the defeated fighter's muscle structure.
Having the elephant stampede or something similar would have been bad enough, but for some reason, the act of trumpeting an opponent to death just sticks with you.
10 Drowning In Poop In Conker's Bad Fur Day
Death by drowning has happened in countless video games across all platforms in the history of the media. In truth, drowning deaths used to be far more common as it was an easy way for programmers to force a death without having to really think about it.
Drowning in water is bad, drowning in blood is worse, but surely nothing can compete with the idea of drowning in poo. This is a death so bizarre and so unusual that it only ever seems to have happened in the falsely cute Conker's Bad Fur Day. This game by Rare has become legendary for its cute title character versus surprisingly mature content and this area is no exception. While you can beat the Great Poo Monster by throwing toilet paper at it, that win will likely come after a death or two where our hero falls into, and drowns in, well...poo.
9 Getting Chainsawed To Death In Gears Of War
The whole concept of a gun with a chainsaw bayonet is bizarre and brutal. In canon is makes sense, as the Gears needed a way to pierce the hide of the locust as the traditional knife bayonet just didn't have the cutting power required to do the job. In isolation though the chainsaw attached to the end of a Lancer is terrifying.
The weapon is clearly too illogical to ever be real, but everyone out there who has played Gears of War will remember the first time they cut down an enemy using the melee attack. It gives you that total badass feeling that FPS games thrive on and - despite a few plot holes such as its never ending power supply - the Lancer remains one of the coolest weapons to ever grace a video game battlefield.
8 Cassie Cage's Bubble Gum Fatality In Mortal Kombat X
There just had to be a Mortal Kombat fatality on this list somewhere. Ever since the franchise blasted its way into arcades and began to rile up PTA soccer moms the world over, the whole concept of a disturbing death in a video game has changed.
The fighting game was barrier breaking and genre defying and feel free to project the fatality that most creeped you out into this spot on the list, as it is going to be a personal preference. The updated graphics of the modern entries in the series make them more disturbing and the Cassie Cage fatality from Mortal Kombat X is just on another level.
Gun shots to the knees + gun shot to the head + bubble gum Band-Aid + bubble filling with blood and exploding = a totally bizarre and disturbing way to go.
7 Being Kissed By A Frog In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped!
Naughty Dog has always had some interesting and bizarre ideas when it comes to death in video games. Then Crash Bandicoot arrived on the scene, and the sheer weirdness of their combined minds came out in full force.
There are bizarre deaths all over this game. One look at the screenshot above should tell you as such when you consider you are playing the game as an anthropomorphic bandicoot and that the enemy up ahead is a giant frog. In Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped!, death at the hands of the frog is not a pleasant experience. The frog first kisses you - which seems nice enough - but this simple act results in death to Crash and the frog turning back into a man.
The questions this brings up around princesses and fairy tales actually being nightmares are endless.
6 Sarah's Murder In The Last Of Us
The Last of Us has one of the most gripping, and heart-wrenching, video game stories of all time. The reason for this is the unexpected murder of one of the characters that you expect to be a major protagonist right at the beginning of the game.
It is really a piece of masterful story telling as the first character you ever get to control in the game - a female child no less - is gunned down in cold blood as the military attempts to control the virus that eventually infects the vast majority of the planet. The death isn't as brutal as most on this list, but the idea that a fellow human can hold the balance of life in their hands in such a clinical way is certainly very disturbing.
5 Sonic Committing Suicide in Sonic CD
It was as if SEGA knew that no one was going to buy the SEGA CD. That is the only reason to explain one of the most bizarre - and totally unnecessary - video game deaths of all time.
In Sonic CD, the title character is up to his old tricks. Sonic is blazing all over the screen, saving his animal friends, and ultimately doing all the good things that made the blue hedgehog a cultural icon in the early '90s. This is all well and good, but if you leave the game for a bathroom break or to answer the phone then you better be back within three minutes. If you aren't then Sonic will simply utter the words "I'm outta here" and throw himself off of the screen to his death.
I know that we live in a society that gets bored easily, but this is just ridiculous.
4 Murdered By A Gang Of Chickens In Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time
Chickens are generally calm, well-mannered creatures in video game lore. There are not that many games out there where a chicken will result in your death. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, however, you had better watch yourself when chickens are around.
Even in this bizarre death, the chicken is at first a friend of Link. If you mind your own business, the chicken will mind his. If though, you are one of those folks who likes to "experiment" in games, then you could find yourself in a bit of trouble here. By hitting the chicken too many times with your sword you will invoke a rage the like of which has not been seen since The Incredible Hulk. The chicken will invite all his clan mates over, and peck Link until he dies.
You have been warned.
3 Death By Crow In Resident Evil
The Resident Evil series is another one where literally everything seems like it is out to kill you. When you factor in that this is a survival horror game, with the key word here being survival, this does make some sense. Even so, it would be nice to think there was a creature or two out there in the universe that was just happy to see you.
Not so much.
There are plenty of creepy deaths in this series when you go through all the various games and spin offs, but the one that stands out is when the character is pecked to death/eaten alive by crows. There is something inherently creepy about a crow as a general rule, but when that crow is infected, then all bets are off. In the game, they tend to attack in flocks, meaning that a bizarre death follows after a momentary panic.
2 Death By STD In Leisure Suit Larry
There are many bizarre deaths on this list, but this might be the most ridiculous of all. Leisure Suit Larry has something of a reputation in video game circles - and rightly so - for its over the top adult content and portrayal of women. In this death though, the women (kinda) get their own back on the sleazy protagonist.
In Leisure Suit Larry 1 Reloaded our "hero" can choose to do a number of things that would rank low on the actual hero scale. One such act is to enjoy the company of a lady of the night and do "everything" that entails. The momentary high soon wears off, and we cut to Larry looking a little unsure after the event. At that point, his crotch begins to expand, before actually exploding. Sadly he's caught something from the "lady of the night" and that makes life "no longer worth living." Yikes.
1 A Giant Spider Leg Through The Head In Limbo
Limbo is a strange game. The visuals are stunning in their simplicity and it is no surprise at all that it has become a cult favorite. It is also a very difficult game, one made all the more menacing by the presence of a giant spider that is intent on impaling the Boy whenever one of its eight legs is in range.
The reason that this death is so disturbing is the violent nature of it in a visual world that, despite its dark overtone, seems like it should be peaceful. When the spider strikes, it has a nasty habit or piercing the Boy through the skull with its razor sharp legs, making the death all the more bizarre and graphic. When you add in the very real fear of spiders that abounds in society, this is one of those deaths that will stick with you for a long, long time.