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Gaming's most brutal death scenes

Putting all debates about violence in video gaming aside, you have to admit that the brutality has become more intense as graphics and gameplay have evolved. There was a time when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the Atari 2600 represented the peak of video game horror, which just looks some guy wearing one of those big celebratory foam hands was puttering aimlessly around in the woods. Now, the ways in which characters can be maimed, mauled, and generally blown up are nearly endless.

With games like the ever-popular God of War and Grand Theft Auto series always happy to oblige in a little carnage, sometimes they ride that fine line between silly escapism and genuine horror. Therefore, the entries on this list represent a little of both. From crazy gameplay options to dramatic character deaths, here are the most brutal death scenes in the history of video games.

Warning: Some entries involve MAJOR SPOILERS.

Molly catches a plane - Grand Theft Auto 5

Over the top, silly violence is one of the main hallmarks of the Grand Theft Auto series. The series has been criticized for taking the gorier aspects too far, with the violence against female characters in particular leading to Target Australia pulling Grand Theft Auto 5 from their stores. One of the more memorable deaths is that of ill-fated lawyer Molly Schultz. After a chase through the city with protagonist Michael De Santa, Molly makes her way into a jet hangar. Ignoring the cries of warning from a hangar employee, Molly accidentally steps in front a jet turbine that is powering up. She is sucked inside and what's left of her sprays out the other end, blanketing the hangar floor in gore. 

It's an absurd moment, made all the more disgusting by how pointless it is, since Michael was merely chasing Molly to talk to her about a videotape in her possession. He even tries to reason with Molly as she runs and attempts to warn her about the jet engine before she lifts off. 

As if the death scene itself weren't already gross enough, some players have noted that if you investigate the gruesome spray afterward, you can find one bit of Molly that somehow came through the engine unscathed: her hand.

Chewed up and spit out - Mortal Kombat X

Ever since the first game hit arcades in 1992, the Mortal Kombat series has been notable for its level of violence, particularly in regards to the bonkers finishing moves performed by all of the characters. In fact, the original game was a huge factor in the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

However, the later games in the series make the violence in the first installment look downright quaint. There may not be another Fatality that personifies this "more is more" approach better than Triborg's "Death Machine" Fatality. In this gloriously over the top finishing move, cybernetic assassin Triborg will transform into a machine that resembles an all-in-one torture chamber. He spears the enemy in a manner similar to fellow Kombatant Scorpion and brings them in close so he can go to town on them with a circular saw. As the enemy flails around, the top half of the machine lowers, violently crushing them. 

The coup de grâce comes when the Death Machine spits out the finished Kombatant in the form of a gory cube, much like a compactor spits out a car in a junkyard. It's ridiculous, disgusting, and strangely hilarious, representing everything fans love about the Mortal Kombat franchise in one brutal finishing move. In a way, the fact that it can be done against Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre kind of brings video game violence full circle.

Hermes stops running - God of War 3

The God of War series is no stranger to violence, with lead character Kratos regularly bringing the pain to the Greek pantheon and assorted mythical creatures. The most violent entry of the series might just be God of War 3, with Kill Screen going so far as to call the majority of the game's plot "little more than a series of brutal murders."

One of the more sadistic kills in God of War 3 comes when Kratos finally defeats the speedy god Hermes. After a lengthy battle, Kratos severs one of Hermes' legs. Hermes weakly drags himself away from Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta following him at a leisurely pace. It's chilling how calmly methodical Kratos is as he slowly bears down on the beaten god, before finally picking Hermes up by the stump of his severed leg and finishing him off. It's an intense scene that's made even harder to watch as Hermes begs for his life.

Sadistic sequences like this also show just how much Kratos grew as a character leading up to the events of 2018's God of War took place. By the time Kratos becomes a father again, he's haunted by his past actions. When you see how sadistic he is in the original God of War trilogy, it's easy to understand why.

Making a "Bloody Mess" - Fallout series

Life in the wasteland is always pretty nasty, but the Fallout series continually finds new ways of showing loyal players that it can always be nastier. As players level up their character and progress through the game, their abilities and attributes can be tweaked with various perks.

One of the nastier action-based perks within the series is called "Bloody Mess," and boy, is the description accurate. Whereas a normal critical hit may sometimes result in the removal of an enemy's limb or head, Bloody Mess will transform them into, well, a bloody mess. Bonus damage with this perk activated will occasionally cause enemies to literally "explode into a gory red paste," showering the screen in viscera.

The overall value of the perk has been debated, but there's no denying that it is a truly ridiculous and nasty effect.

Lilith loses it all - DmC: Devil May Cry

While not as graphically violent as many of the other entries on this list, this death makes the cut because of how calculatingly awful it is. In 2013's DmC: Devil May Cry, demon hunting brothers Dante and Vergil are overseeing a prisoner trade. Dante and Vergil are exchanging Lilith, the pregnant girlfriend of demon king Mundus, for their associate Kat. Though both sides have guns trained on one another, it seems like the trade is going to go through.

However, knowing that Mundus is watching the trade, we see Vergil make the decision to hurt Mundus by killing not only his mate, but his unborn child. He takes aim and blasts away Lilith's midsection. To make this moment even worse, Lilith begins wailing in agony and sadness just before Vergil puts a bullet in her head and smiles to himself. 

Regardless of her status as a villain, the barbaric treatment of Lilith in this sequence certainly didn't do any favors for a game that had been already been called sexist. Whether you agree with that assessment or not, this death is uncompromisingly harsh, signaling the point of no return for Vergil.

Your biggest fan - Resident Evil 6

The C-virus-infected monsters of Resident Evil 6 won't apologize for ripping you apart when they get their grimy mitts on you. While Resident Evil 6 has been roundly mocked for its numerous quick-time events, there is one that has rightfully stuck in the minds of gamers. In the Outdoor Market section of Resident Evil 6, there's a beast that will attack you in the butcher's shop and will immediately try to shove the player character into a meat grinder. If the correct button sequence is hit, the player will push the enemy off and continue fighting. If they fail, well ...

As if being hacked to bits weren't gross enough, the creature gets pulled in with you, chopping the player and the enemy into a gory smoothie. Oh, and this all occurs while your AI partner watches in the background and does nothing to assist you. Now that's messed up.

Pop goes the sergeant - F.E.A.R. 3

With horror legend John Carpenter and 30 Days of Night author Steve Niles contributing to the game's cinematics, it's no surprise that F.E.A.R. 3 has its fair share of gory moments. However, there's one scene in particular that stands out and deserves a spot on this list. 

After serving as the main protagonist in F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, Sergeant Michael Becket meets a pretty gruesome end in F.E.A.R. 3. While being possessed by the ghost of series antagonist Paxton Fettel, Becket fiercely fights for control of his own body. Becket starts to have a seizure as violent visions flash in his head. After vomiting profusely, Becket makes his way to his feet, screaming a warning at the player character. A few moments later, Becket explodes from the inside, releasing the spirit of Paxton Fettel and blanketing the inside of his cell with guts.

Not only is it a graphic death, but it's genuinely shocking to see it happen to the hero from the previous game. Though F.E.A.R. 3 received fairly mixed reviews, this sequence did its job in showing players that no one in the F.E.A.R. series was safe.

Kelly is dissolved - Mass Effect 2

In the second and third Mass Effect games, Kelly Chambers is the yeoman and chief psychologist aboard the Normandy SR-2. She is also a potential romantic interest for series protagonist Commander Shepard, depending on how players choose to proceed with their dialogue options. This connection between Chambers and the playable character is what makes her possible fate even more upsetting.

Yes, "possible fate," because this death CAN be avoided. Before the start of Mass Effect 2's final mission, Shepard's crew are taken prisoner by the Collectors, an enigmatic alien race that has been abducting human colonies. Shepard is faced with a choice: storm in on a suicide mission to save the crew or hang back and try to prepare a little more for the assault. 

Sadly, if the player elects to wait, then they will eventually have to watch in horror as Kelly is doused in an acidic substance and melted down into her base genetic materials, screaming the entire time. It's already a horrific sequence, but it's even harsher to players who have pursued a romance with the doomed Yeoman Chambers.

Ellie's revenge - The Last of Us

Though players control the character of Joel through most of The Last of Us, an injury benches him for a lengthy section in the middle of the game, during which the gameplay shifts to 14-year-old Ellie's attempts to forage for resources. This supply run quickly turns into a fight for her life when she comes up against a group of cannibals led by the psychotic David.

Her fight against David and his men eventually leads to a confrontation where David pins her to the ground, disturbingly telling her, "You have no idea what I'm capable of." Seizing a machete on the ground, Ellie slashes at David's arm, then proceeds to hack away at him with the blade. She only stops when Joel finally finds her and calms her down. 

While the brunt of the violence is off-screen, the implications of the scene lend it so much more harshness than any bloodbath the game could have shown. Though she's taken a few lives already, this is the moment where Ellie truly loses her innocence, giving herself over to rage. While it has yet to be seen if this dark moment will still effect Ellie in The Last of Us Part 2, this death haunts Ellie through the end of the first game's events.

Eye surgery gone wrong - Dead Space 2

Ask anyone who played the Dead Space series what the most upsetting moment of the trilogy was for them. The odds are pretty good that they'll mention this particular scene.

In the world of Dead Space, the NoonTech Diagnostic Machine is used to mine information stored within someone's brain. This is done by, quite literally, sticking a needle in their eye. During a tense sequence where the player controls the needle as they operate on engineer Isaac Clarke, they have to be mindful of the patient's heart rate and the speed in which they lower the needle. If this is not done properly, the needle will malfunction, abruptly puncturing Isaac's eye. What follows is a sickening gush of blood as Isaac screams in terror and pain. 

The result is so much more upsetting when it has to follow the excruciatingly precise gameplay involved in guiding the needle to where it's supposed to be. It's almost cartoonishly violent, but the voice acting and music really go a long way toward selling this disgusting sequence.

The many, many deaths of Lara Croft - Tomb Raider reboot series

Picture this: Lara Croft is making a daring escape from a crashing airplane, sliding down an embankment and narrowly avoiding the hazards along the way. She makes one false move and finds her throat on the wrong end of a jagged branch. The screen goes to black, but not before the player sees Croft's death in stunningly-animated detail.

Not every expedition ends in discovery and fame. Starting with 2013's reboot, in a move that has been heavily criticized, the Tomb Raider series has featured some of the most upsetting game over screens in video gaming history. Rather than cutting to black or flashing a "You Died" on the screen, players get some truly grisly ends for the globetrotting Ms. Croft. Impaled on spikes, dropped from great heights, and crushed by debris are just a few of the ways poor Lara has met her end.

In 2013, The Average Gamer said these death scenes were, "gruesome and off-putting and they very much do their job of punishing you for failure." These animations really get under your skin because they are upsetting by design. It's the game's way of telling how badly you messed up, and that Lara's fate is all your fault. 

Yikes.