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Video Game Deaths We Still Haven't Gotten Over

Once upon a time, video game deaths were only meaningful until you got your next 1-up. But eventually game developers figured out that by killing off favorite characters, they could turn their pixels into tiny daggers that stab you right in the feels. Here's a look at the most traumatic video game deaths of all time. Spoilers ahead, of course.

Aerith Gainsborough - Final Fantasy VII

Aerith Gainsborough is the classic JRPG love interest—a beautiful, gentle girl who sells flowers in the street before joining you on a quest to protect the world using Holy magic. That just compounds the shock for players when the villainous Sephiroth suddenly appears out of nowhere and brutally murders her right in front of you. Still considered by many to be the most shocking death in video game history, Aerith's murder will soon be traumatizing a whole new generation thanks to the upcoming FF7 remake.

John Marston - Red Dead Redemption

True redemption is a difficult thing to earn. Players found that out the hard way thanks to the death of John Marston, the main character of Red Dead Redemption. After spending untold hours doing everything they could to help Marston right his many wrongs, players have to watch as the happy ending they think they've earned instead turns into a hail of gunfire and a lonely grave. Never has "The End" seemed more sadly final.

Lee Everett - The Walking Dead

Speaking of main characters who died at the end, arguably the most unexpected and emotional death in recent memory was that of Lee Everett, the hero in The Walking Dead. Players spend the whole game helping Lee protect eight-year-old Clementine from walkers, only for Lee himself to be infected at the end. Sometimes there's just no justice in the world, especially when that world is filled with zombies.

Sarah - The Last Of Us

Another character trying to survive a zombie apocalypse is Sarah, the 12-year-old protagonist of Naughty Dog's instant classic The Last of Us. Shockingly, though, Sarah doesn't even make it out of the game's prologue alive. After successfully escaping from the zombies, Sarah is shot and killed by the all-too-human soldiers trying to contain the outbreak. It sets the tone for the entire game, reminding players that the scariest monster of all is the one inside us.

Ghost - Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Simon "Ghost" Riley is undisputedly the coolest character in the Call of Duty franchise, rocking a skull mask and pulling off one impossible mission after another. That makes it even more unbelievable when, just as he's engineering another amazing escape from behind enemy lines, he's betrayed and murdered by his own commanding officer. It simply doesn't seem fair—because it isn't.

The Joker - Arkham City

The Clown Prince of Crime died the way he lived: randomly, but with poetic flair. Poisoned by an unstable mutagen, The Joker forces Batman to try and find a cure. Batman returns with a vial of the precious antidote, all right—and then accidentally drops it when the Joker stabs him. The Joker dies laughing at the irony, while fans are left wondering how the death of a homicidal sociopath could be so darn sad.

Eli Vance - Half Life 2: Episode Two

Eli Vance's death at the end of Half Life 2: Episode Two would have been hard enough to get over if just for the fact that the benevolent and wise leader of the human resistance is butchered while the players watch helplessly. Making it much worse: the planned sequel, Half Life 2: Episode Three, was scrapped, meaning the last memory Half Life fans have of their beloved franchise is Vance's broken corpse—and their own impotence. Not cool.

Cortana - Halo 4

Master Chief may be the (masked) face of the Halo franchise, but Cortana is its heart and soul. Right from the start in 2001's Halo: Combat Evolved, and through every subsequent installment in the franchise, Cortana aides and guides players through the maelstrom of galactic combat. It's no wonder, then, that her tragic sacrifice at the end of Halo 4 is considered by many fans to be the end of the Halo era. Sure, they may release more games, but it will just never be the same without Cortana.

Yourself - Dragon Age: Inquisition

In the ultimate video gaming Sophie's choice, Dragon Age: Inquisition imports your main characters from both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II – and then forces you to decide which one of them dies. And no, the sadistic monsters at BioWare will not pay for your resulting therapy bills.