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The Story Behind These Secret Deaths In Games

Even with all of the extra lives and cheat codes available, death eventually comes to all video game characters. However, some game deaths aren't quite so obvious as the infamously in-your-face Fatalities of the Mortal Kombat series. Sometimes they can take the form of Easter eggs or are otherwise relegated to "blink and you'll miss it" scenes of carnage.


The following examples are hidden away in secret spots of some of your favorite games. You may have even seen some of them, but had no inkling of what they really meant. Some of these are essentially secret crossovers between major franchises, while some are clever nods to film and television. Meanwhile, a few of them are bizarre in-jokes, examples of developers ribbing their competition. Here are the stories behind some of the weirdest, creepiest, and funniest secret deaths in video game history, as well as how you can see them for yourself.

The Joker's last laugh - Batman: Arkham Knight

The opening moments of Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Knight are about as dark as a superhero video game can get. As Frank Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" plays, gamers take control of the furnace in which the Clown Prince of Crime is being cremated, having died in his final battle with the Dark Knight. This is followed by Commissioner Gordon's narration informing us, "This is how it happened. This is how the Batman died." 


That sequence is already pretty grim, but it gets even worse in Arkham Knight's New Game Plus.

After beating the story mode for the first time and starting a new game, the scene proceeds as normal, right up until you crank up those flames. In a particularly terrifying jump scare, the Joker opens his eyes and screams as the flames lick around his face. The screams eventually turn into a cackle as the Joker's raspy voice replaces Commissioner Gordon's narration. "This is how it happened," the Joker sneers. "This is how the Joker died."

It's a great (albeit terrifying) little Easter egg for fans of Mark Hamill's voice performance as the Joker, allowing him to continue pulling the rug out from under fans long after the character's demise. That eerie line about the death of the Joker also serves as a nice thematic tie to Batman's internal struggle throughout the game.


A loss of Altaïr-tude - The Witcher 2

In the Assassin's Creed franchise, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad was known as one of the greatest assassins of all time, also serving as one of the central protagonists of that series. In The Witcher franchise, Altaïr is an inept moron who can't even stick a landing.


In The Witcher 2's prologue, it's possible to guide Geralt over to find the dead body of Altaïr sprawled across a bale of hay. Judging from the blood and splintered wood on the scene, it can be assumed that this particular bale wasn't quite thick enough to break Altaïr's fall. Upon finding him, Geralt will mutter, "Hmm ... Guess they'll never learn." This comment seems to imply that this isn't the first wrecked assassin Geralt has come across, which is kind of hilarious. 

However, this serves as more than just a fun wink to gamers. In addition to the dead Altaïr sighting, this Easter egg will give Geralt a new Ability, "Assassin" (naturally). This Ability boosts damage dealt by Geralt by 25% when he attacks an enemy from behind. In other words, this is one morbid secret that's worth seeking out for more reasons than just the gallows humor.


The Skywalkers and Dr. Jones - Fallout: New Vegas

The Fallout games are home to many different references, some of which are harder to find than others. With the Wild Wasteland trait, it's possible for players of Fallout: New Vegas to find all sorts of bizarre Easter eggs, including some famous Lucasfilm corpses. In the town of Nipton, you may stumble upon two burned-up skeletons laying prone outside of their devastated house. Moving your cursor over the skeletons will identify them as Beru and Owen. If those names sound familiar, it's because they belong to Luke Skywalker's aunt and uncle, who shared a similarly grisly fate in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.


Elsewhere, stuffed into a refrigerator, it's possible to find a skeleton wearing a very familiar hat. This is a reference to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which features a somewhat infamous (and meme-inspiring) scene wherein Indy escapes a nuclear blast by hiding in an old fridge. He clearly didn't escape this one. On the bright side, taking and equipping his hat will raise your character's Perception stat by one point, which should be a decent help if found early enough in the game. If only Dr. Jones himself had perceived a better way out of his predicament.

Doom Nukem - Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem vs Doomguy. The wise-cracking action hero vs the nameless space marine. Which one is tougher? More capable? Who would win a fight between these two champions? In discussing a hypothetical mash-up between the two FPS icons, Nerdburglars made an argument for Doomguy being the clear victor. However, that's not how it would really shake out, according to this Easter egg. In fact, Doomguy apparently wouldn't even last long enough to meet Duke face to face (or face to helmet).


When they find this particular Easter egg, players of the Megaton Edition of Duke Nukem 3D will earn themselves the "Doomed Marine" achievement, so at least Doomguy didn't die in vainIn "Death Row," the third level of Duke Nukem 3D's first chapter, players will come to a chapel-like area. After activating a switch, the cross on the wall will become inverted. By shooting through a panel in the wall, Duke will gain access to a hidden passageway. Following this passageway all the way to the end will open into a secret altar of sorts. Nestled between two torches is the mangled torso and head of Doomguy. At the sight of this fallen warrior, Duke will say, "That's one doomed space marine." 


The player is then free to blast or otherwise smack the discarded Doomguy to bits, just to add insult to injury.

A (half) life wasted - Steamworld Dig

The PC version of Image & Form's 2013 Metroidvania Steamworld Dig contains a morbid Easter egg that only gets more and more accurate (and oddly amusing) as time goes by. Deep within a hidden cavern, players will discover the remains of a group of gamers who waited in vain for Half-Life 3 to finally come out. The poor souls have been forgotten since the end of the world, with only their skeletons remaining, still camped out in front of a dilapidated "GameGo" store.


This is a reference to the long-delayed (and let's be honest, probably canceled) sequel to Half-Life 2, which has existed in some form of development hell or another for over a decade. While the game isn't referenced by name in this Easter egg, it's easy to tell what Image & Form were going for with this reference. You can spot a ripped version of Half-Life's logo on the window of the shop (with a "3" on it, no less), as well as a poster featuring a character bearing an uncanny resemblance to Half-Life protagonist Gordon Freeman. Finally, the billboard in front of the shop features a gigantic "3" overlaid with the image of a crowbar, Freeman's signature melee weapon from the series.

It's a pretty hilarious "dig" at Valve, but also kind of a sweet testament to how loyal video game fans can really be.


Thelma & Louise - Grand Theft Auto 5

The ending of Thelma and Louise is iconic. Following a series of escalating run-ins with the law, the two women agree that they won't be taken in or controlled ever again. Holding each other's hands, they decide to put the pedal to the metal one last time, heading over a cliff in their car and going out on their own terms, in a blaze of glory.


Naturally, Grand Theft Auto 5 takes this scene and parodies it in an almost off-handed way.

Here's how to see it all play out: if you are lucky enough to be flying a helicopter over San Andreas' Chiliad Mountain State Wilderness between the hours of 7 and 8 pm, you will be able to see two women in a convertible who have been cornered by the police. The two will then take the convertible over the side of the cliff as the Blaine County Police watch. However, if you park in their way or stand in front of the cliff's edge, Thelma & Louise will be so determined to go over the cliff that they will honk their car horn at you until you move, after which the scene will proceed as normal

With such specific conditions to be met and such a morbid payoff, it's truly one of the more bizarre (non-frozen alien) Easter eggs in the game.


A solitary soul - Borderlands 2

In Borderlands 2, hidden within Pandora's Caustic Caverns, there is a pretty unnerving reference to the Dark Souls series. Seated in front of a campfire is the ghost of a knight. On the rock directly across from the ghost is an armored NPC named "Solitaire." This name is more than likely a reference to the Dark Souls character Solaire of Astora. The spectral knight cannot be interacted with and this sighting doesn't trigger any additional events or side-quests (unlike the battle against the Ninja Turtle stand-ins, which makes up its own mission). In fact, going over and attempting to speak to Solitaire will only result in the NPC giggling at you.


The fact that this dead knight can be found while playing through the mission titled "You. Will. Die. (Seriously.)" is even more fitting, since that is basically what it feels like when playing a Dark Souls game. While one of Borderlands 2's DLCs, Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon's Keep, eventually gave Vault Hunters a full Dark Souls-inspired quest, this little run-in with a disembodied spirit is never addressed again. It's just one of the many creepy oddities populating the frontier planet of Pandora.

Just Cause: Fury Road - Mad Max

Rico Rodriguez, the lead character from the Just Cause series, is known for his aerial acrobatics and proficiency with a parachute. He can usually be seen dropping into enemy territory and making precision landings. Not even a deadly tornado can stop him from hitting his mark, the guy is just that good.


That's why his presence as a dead body in 2015's Mad Max is kind of hilarious. Taking place after a vague apocalypse, it's clear that the world of Mad Max wasn't terribly kind to Rico. Way out in the Big Nothing region of Mad Max's world map, the skeletal remains of Rico can be found hanging from an old windmill, his parachute and grappling line hopelessly tangled in one of the fan blades. The story behind this cameo is pretty simple: Mad Max was developed by Avalanche, the same folks who make the Just Cause series. 

Not only is this a fun reference to their other property, it's some neat shorthand on Avalanche's part to show players just how tough Max Rockatansky is. If super-secret agent Rico Rodriguez couldn't survive the wastelands, then how much of a bruiser must Max be, if he's still standing?


Alas, poor Moloch - Mortal Kombat X

First appearing as the sub-boss of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Moloch was a hulking demon with a thirst for revenge. Though he returned as a playable character in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the character never quite made the splash that, say, Goro did. Still, the character has his fans. Sadly, eagle-eyed gamers hoping for the return of Moloch were likely shocked to see what became of the demon in the later installments. 


In some of Quan Chi's Mortal Kombat X intros, he can be seen walking into the fighting arena carrying Moloch's severed head, casually chucking it aside before the start of the match. While this could be interpreted as yet another member of Moloch's species, Ed Boon's lack of correction (and re-tweet) when a fan pointed it out on Twitter seems like a pretty solid confirmation. 

It's kind of hilarious that such a major villain would be killed off-screen and not even acknowledged by name in Mortal Kombat X. If nothing else, this shows NetherRealm's dedication to moving on from the past and revitalizing the fighter franchise. Now, if only they'd add Shaggy to Mortal Kombat 11. Then none of the Kombatants would be safe.


They DEFINITELY needed a bigger boat - Fallout 4

Here's another fun (but morbid) Easter egg courtesy of the Wild Wasteland perk, this time in Fallout 4. To the south of the Cambridge Police Station, there is a graveyard of abandoned boats. On the deck of one of these vessels, you will find the skeleton of a sailor next to the dead carcass of a mutated dolphin/shark-looking creature. 


The creature and the sailor's clothing are a reference to Steven Spielberg's classic film Jaws, specifically the sequence where the titular shark attacks the boat belonging to Robert Shaw's character, Bartholomew Quint. The corpse is dressed like Quint, and there's a discarded bandana next to the body, much like the one Quint wears in the film. 

If you have enough radiation protection, you can venture into the water beneath the boat, where you'll find an empty shark cage, similar to the one used in one of the movie's scariest scenes.

Fus Ro Doom! - Doom (2016)

For those who have played 2016's Doom reboot, a fight with a simple ol' dragon would likely come as a welcome relief compared to the many demonic entities doing their best to take you down. Maybe that's why the Dragonborn simply wasn't ready for a trip to Mars.


This one is sort of an Easter egg within an Easter egg. In Doom, there are over a dozen secret areas that replicate maps and graphics from the original Doom and Doom 2, which are all accessed by throwing hidden switches. 

Deep in the caverns of Hell, next to one of these hidden levers, the corpse of Skyrim's fallen hero can be found crumpled against a stalagmite. He's clearly been there for quite some time, since he's been reduced to a skeleton. However, the Dragonborn is easily identified by two aspects: his unmistakable helmet and the arrow in his knee. The arrow is a reference to a popular meme that sprang up around a common NPC dialogue from Skyrim.

Rest well, dear Dragonborn. In space, no one can hear your Shouts.