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Finally Truth in Television

"Disemboweler IV, the game where condemned criminals dig at each other with rusty hooks."
Bart Simpson, The Simpsons

Fictional video games on TV tend to be disgusting, ultraviolent messes of blood, guts, and severed limbs as the hypnotized player kills everything that moves, and more than a few things that don't. Many games are about killing everything, of course, but with some style.

Also, the names for these types of video games on TV tend to be rather unimaginative and generic with names such as "ACTION KILLTACULAR DEATHMOWER 5000" or simply "The Decimator", when in real life, they're often much more sophisticated and clever, like Half-Life, Halo, Contra, and Time Crisis,. Granted, some ultraviolent Real Life games are named like the trope, but not all. What little frequency there is of such naming, will probably continue to decrease as 1) games try to become taken more seriously in general as a medium, and 2) controversy over the more violent and realistic (or just close-to-home) games continues to mount.

Often just used for name-dropping as a gag. If such a game is shown, it can be an example of Pac-Man Fever (another case of producers not getting it) and/or bear a surprising resemblance to a well-known game.

In a Crime and Punishment Series these can cause innocent victims to act out the events, possibly including An Aesop about why video games are horrible and teenagers should be watching responsible adults shoot each other on TV instead.

Sometimes the corruption comes not from the violent games, but from the very influence of computers themselves — from the Internet. This is because meddling executives worrying about the time you spend away from your TV want to convince you that New Media Are Evil.

Also, possibly due to Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, and Manhunt, virtually every example of this will be a fighting game, a Grand Theft Auto clone, or a ridiculously gory shooter of some irrational kind. Occasionally it will be all three at once, with a subtitle declaring "It's For Everyone!".

For games that do their best to live up to this stereotype, see the video game section of Gorn. Not to be confused with Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death, although the name is an example of it. See also Murder Simulators. Contrasts with Ultra Super Happy Cute Baby Fest Farmer 3000, where the game is a really kiddy game.

Examples of Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000 include:

Anime & Manga

  • Interestingly, Serial Experiments Lain did something like that. In one of the early chapters of the series, there are several teenagers stuck in an online shooter called Phantoma without even being logged on to their computers, and confusing random people with enemy NPCs as a result. One of them commits suicide, while the other one murders a little girl.
    • This was obviously intentional, given how one of the main themes of the series was the ever-growing disconnect with reality that most Wired developed. It's not about the violence, it's more about the reality itself and its perception.
      • And subverted in that the "real world" is not all that real either.
  • Subverted in Paranoia Agent. The detectives are interviewing the suspect for the Shounen Bat assaults. The boy seems convinced that he is living in the world of an RPG he played, and all the people he assaulted were, to him, the enemies controlled by the Big Bad that needed to be cleansed with his magical, holy sword. In the end it turns out that the kid wasn't the real Shounen Bat, he was just an attention seeker.
  • Mamimi from FLCL spends half the second episode playing Firestarter, a handheld video game with the objective of "burn down a demon-infested city while dodging the cops". (She spends another quarter hanging out with Naota, and the last quarter starting fires.) But being Mamimi, she's incredibly whacked anyway, so the game's probably not really to blame.
  • Subverted in Pure Trance: some of the games that are mentioned are "Connect the Bowels" (kind of appropriate since most of the characters are nurses), "Throw The Baby Around", and "Real Fight", a fighting game that uses "ordinary things like scissors and razors as weapons (not for children)".
  • Outlaw Star has an episode where Aisha is playing some kind of high-speed combat Dating Sim.
  • A running gag in Minami-ke is a bad Soap Opera called "Sensei and Ninomiya-Kun". The two youngest daughters own a copy of the show's video game which runs the gamut from fighter games to platforming to zombie survival horror(Complete with co-op) leading to many deaths of Ninomiya-Kun.


  • Scott McCloud explains his reason for writing the Affectionate Parody DESTROY!!: "I first heard people complaining about a Marvel comic called SuperBoxers and claiming that it was "nothing but senseless violence from beginning to end." I thought this sounded cool, but was disappointed, upon acquiring a copy, to discover that SuperBoxers included a plot, characterization, and other distractions. It wasn't PURE. DESTROY!! was my attempt to get it right."


  • In the Spike Lee film Inside Man, the leading bank robber sees one of the hostages, an African-American boy, playing a GTA-like game of plotless violence with racial overtones. He's not happy. It should also be noted that the graphics on the game are pretty good. For a handheld device..
  • Clockers has Gangster, which appears to be some kind of proto-GTA played via VR helmet and supposedly made by Sega.
  • Mike Teevee's updated "sin" in Tim Burton's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is having a passion for violent video games, thogh the ommpa loompas still sing about watching TV too much when Mike meets his fate.
  • In the Robin Williams film Toys, the General Ripper antagonist sees children playing violent games at an arcade and has the bright idea to use the children to fight wars by remote control, in the style of Ender's Game.

 General: (very heavily paraphrased) What happens when you hit the UN trucks?

Kid: You lose points.

General: That's ridiculous. (blows up every vehicle on screen, UN trucks included)

  • Zabulon's prophetic video game in the Film of the Book of Night Watch is a pretty gory example, involving among other things people pulling out their own spines like katanas and hitting people with them.
  • The Swedish So Bad It's Good 1997 crime/detective movie Beck — Spår i mörker, a gang of teenagers who live in the underground tunnels beneath Stockholm run around armed with swords and knives and decapitate random people on subway platforms and trains at night. It's quickly revealed that they do it to get the most frags, and that they are inspired by the game Final Doom (the script writers probably did not know that a version of Doom actually existed by that name), and in the end the gang's underground hideout is raided by the police, and you clearly see the game Marathon on their computer screens.
  • The mind control game central to the plot of Gamer is called Slayers.
  • In Mars Attacks (Film), a bus driver catches her son cutting school to play a shoot-em-up game, stops the bus, and hauls him in, yelling at him, whereupon the passengers (who are all middle-aged women) clap. Later, though, it turns out that playing those games taught him how to shoot and he mows down several alien invaders with one of their own laser guns.
  • The video game Adam Sandler's character's kids play at the beginning of Grown Ups involves slaughtering people on a cruise ship with assault rifles and chainsaws and you get bonus points for pushing old ladies off the ship.


  • In Harry Potter, Dudley Dursley is fond of "blowing up aliens on his computer." He has a Play Station game called Mega Mutilation Part Three. As a side note, he destroys his Play Station in The Goblet of Fire, which is set in 1994, before it was even released anywhere (including Japan). J. K. Rowling admitted she Did Not Do the Research.
  • Dave Barry's Money Secrets includes a passing reference to Death Killer of Fatal Murdering II: The Slaying.

Live-Action TV

  • CSI: Miami went to town with the trope. A not-GTA-honest game was essentially a nonstop synaesthetic rollercoaster of violence, robbery, murder and rape (though only on bonus rounds), causing easily influenced youngsters to mimic these acts point-by-point while shouting "9000 points, bitch!" The protagonists got lines like "It'll all be very real soon" and "So he played <dramatic pause> to death." (YEEEAAAAHHHH!!!) Also notable for gamers giving their nicks as their names in interrogations, total ignorance of sites like Game FAQs... you get the picture.
    • The writers apparently also haven't played any game since 1984, or perhaps ever, since the game in the episode had no save feature. That's right, a game in the 2000's with no save feature. How very realistic.
    • That explains the Take That that World of Warcraft placed in its recent Cataclysm expansion: an NPC called "Horatio Laine" is investigating a murder in Westfall, and another NPC calls him the dirtiest cop he's ever known.
    • Computer game CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder had an "episode" where fictional game "Gut Wrench 3" was central to the plot. And yes, fictional game was a FPS, was that bloody, and yes, murder imitated game's poster. Although in subversion the murder had nothing to do with the nature of the game, real motive was boss cheating one of his employees out of their promised bonus. Resemblance to poster was there to throw suspicion at somebody else.
      • 3 Dimensions of Murder itself fits this trope. In name, at least.
  • The District, episode "Something Borrowed, Something Bruised." Complete with flashes to and from reality and screams of "It was only a game!" The goal of the game is to beat an unarmed bystander to death.
  • Killer Instinct, episode "Game Over." Constantly used the phrase "murder simulator" and went downhill from there.
    • Which is sad, seeing how a NINTENDO fighting game shares the same name. Although it IS violent...
      • For the record, Killer Instinct was the name of the show. The game in question was a Grand Theft Auto Expy called, as I recall, Murder One.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit featured a subversion in one episode. A boy obsessed with a console RPG was suspected of killing another child, and the game itself was held responsible when evidence found at the scene was heavily reminiscent of the events and setting of the story. However, after playing through the entire game the detectives realized that he was imitating the game's "rescue the princess" storyline, and had actually tried to help the child by replicating the actions that restored the princess. There was a later episode with a straight version of the trope with a GTA clone, but "the game made them do it" was the defense and the prosecution quickly set to tearing that defense apart. Another episode revolved around a clone Second Life, where the rapist used the game to track down his victim. However, the detectives turn the tables and use the game itself to find the necessary evidence to convict the felon.
  • And while still on the social MMO topic, Numb3rs actually avoided this trope when they did an Alternate Reality Game with a video game component that stuck to fairly standard fantasy violence. And they ran the game in the show as an actual Alternate Reality Game. And the show wasn't an Author Tract about video game violence. And on the whole was pretty cool.
  • The original Law & Order did an episode where a character kills someone because the game "made him crazy". The game was actually called Blood, which is the name of a real shooter, this one however was described as basically killing random people for no discernible reason and was supposedly of Halo-like fame. Also if memory serves the killer wrote a Fanfic about his gameplay experience using...wildly inaccurate slang, and describing what can only be called the deformed offspring of Quake and Pac-Man. "9000 points bitch!" indeed.
  • The X-Files did this one too, with its usual flair. A virtual reality game is killing its players, so our heroes get called in. Scully got to act as the voice of disapproval, while Mulder and the Lone Gunmen were "reduced... back to moony adolescence." Interestingly, this episode was cowritten by William Gibson, one of the people with a claim to inventing Cyberpunk.
  • Averted in NCIS, where at least two of the protagonists are gamers themselves. One case is solved because one of these has played GTA 3, thus knowing which real-life car a teenager referred to when he named the ingame equivalent.
    • There's an episode where two navy crewmen who played an MMORPG 'Immortals', a fairly transparent World of Warcraft parody, ended up dueling with swords, and one of them kills himself out of disillusionment with the game. Early eps of the series seem to have a Nerd Culture Is Evil Vibe going. Makes you wonder why they bother doing all this investigative stuff when they could just walk in and arrest the guy with the biggest knowledge of sci-fi/comic books.
    • Played straight with regards to the game Fear Tower 3 which involves shooting zombies in the head to kill them... and then shooting the brains that crawl out of the bullet holes to kill them. And apparently it's on 30 million computers.
      • The same episode had a flagrant version of digitzed Gretzky Has the Ball when McGee claimed a character held the highest scores in multiple MMORPGs... which generally don't have scoring systems.
        • Unless one counts player-versus-player rankings.
  • Avoided in The Office (American), season 3, when the members of Jim's new office play Call of Duty as an office team activity. The developers themselves were impressed by the hilarious Noob mistakes Jim was making.

 Josh:"You don't snipe in Carentan, ok?!"

Andy:: "Saboteur! You're a saboteur!"

  • In Kamen Rider Ryuki, Shibaura Jun (Kamen Rider Gai) creates a fighting game that gradually makes the players so obsessed with the game that they start re-enacting it in live-action, to the death.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode featuring a 24th Century version of such a game used as part of an attempt to take over the minds of the crew and thus the Enterprise as a whole. Data and Wesley successfully resisted the "lure" of the game, the latter resorting to what can only be described as video-game inspired tricks to lead the mind-controlled members of the crew on a merry chase through the rest of the ship while Data worked on an antidote for the addictive qualities of the game. And then he got to kiss Ashley Judd. Lucky bastard.
    • This is a bit of a subversion as the game itself was entirely non-violent, and consisted of herding red discs into funnels. Indeed, the game is described as "practically playing itself"; if you try to not win, it makes you win anyway. I'm pretty sure it doesn't qualify as a game at that point. The episode suggests that the game's rewards are literally orgasmic.
  • An episode of Tekwar: The Series featured a Tek video game where the point is to kill cops. The game was designed to convince the players that they were still in the game even after they stopped playing, causing them to kill cops in real life.
  • In an episode of the CBBC series Stupid! one character is playing a game called Killing People 3.
  • Gutwrencher 1, a classic arcade game on the show The Middleman, is so violent, it's banned in 17 countries and is the only arcade game ever to have been condemned by both Tipper Gore and the Dalai Lama. And it's the game that leads to Wendy and Tyler's first hookup.
  • Trying very hard to forget the episode of Touched By an Angel entitled "Virtual Reality", where a good student immediately turns bad after his cousin introduces him to "Car Jack 2000: Millennium Mayhem". Rife with Pac-Man Fever when the game shouts out "2000 points" every time someone is run over, as well as have having an evil CG monk lead the characters in a prayer to the video game.
  • Killman 4 in the German show Polizeiruf 110 which consists based on the in-game sounds heard in the episode of air raid alarms and shooting children as a child soldier. Yeah.
  • Referenced in Two and A Half Men where Jake and Kandi are playing an unnamed violent video game. Alan walks in and remarks, "My word, this game is violent." To which Kandi replies, "It has to be. You can't negotiate with zombies!" Touche.
  • X-Play has Johnny X-treme's X-treme Adventure, a game that will PUNCH YOUR BALLS OFF TO THE MAX!
    • Of course, X-Play is a TV show about video games, so this one is entirely tongue-in-cheek.
  • The George Lopez Show subverts this in one episode. Max mentions playing a Grand Theft Auto rip-off, and Angie and George don't want him playing it. George then says that he doesn't want Max playing it because he doesn't want Max to beat his high score.



  • In C Is For Lettuce:

 Just look at this atrocity! There's hoodlums, thugs, and skanks / And chronic-tokin' gangstas running hookers down with tanks / There's nudity and blood and guts and chainsaws cutting people / And that's just in the new updated 3-D Tetris sequel!


New Media

Newspaper Comics

  • The comic strip FoxTrot likes this one, with things like "Doomathon 2000". Hmmm, what could that possibly be in reference to?
    • The strip sometimes uses the names of real games-- for example, Carmageddon, which is an actual game.
    • Not to mention "World of Warquest," and Jason's rather extreme addiction thereof. However, all of this could be an Affectionate Parody as Bill Amend, the creator, is quite the avid World of Warcraft player as well.
    • It then brilliantly subverts it by introducing "Nice City", a game where the player just hangs out not killing anything at all. Literally. Peter has to reset after stepping on an ant.

Video games

  • The third incarnation of the Doom franchise, itself a common inspiration for this trope, contained a very silly playable Mini Game in an arcade machine called Super Turbo Turkey Puncher 3.
  • One news report in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines involves a "Senator Limperman" railing against violent video games such as Rape and Pillage and Abe Lincoln Teaches Killing. (He's also upset about a crude Take That directed at him in another unnamed game).
    • The Take That mentioned is an example of Truth in Television — a thinly veiled allusion to Postal 2, the final day of which has the player visit a Waco-like compound plastered with posters saying "Lieberman Sucks".
  • Super Viking Shark Panch Corpse Ride Mega Extreme 9000 lampshades this trope by name, despite being of the rhythm genre. It involves punching sharks in the mouth while riding a corpse to the beat of music.
  • Bladehunt: Deathspank 2: The Revenge. It was later defictionalized as Death Spank.
  • Inverted Trope in the Grand Theft Auto series, of all things. Fictional video/arcade games advertised or available for play within some GTA games are far less menacing, crossing a wider spectrum of genres and may even pass as kid-friendly, though sexual jokes are aplenty and their presence is more for parody. Just to name some, there is Pogo the Monkey, Degenatron, eXorbeo, PastMaster, They Crawled from Uranus, Duality and Go Go Space Monkey, Vivisection's Lab Rat Cart-Racing, QUB3D, Civil Service, and Deity.
  • Kagetsu Tohya has Bloody Royale 3 (or BR3 for short!), which seems to be Rival Schools with guns.
  • The Wii game MadWorld does its best to live up to this trope, being a pretty obvious commentary on games such as Manhunt and the western media's reaction to them.
    • Some theorize the only reason it wasn't given an AO rating is because the violence is so over the top it's impossible to take seriously. Honestly, it's only a little more violent than Itchy and Scratchy.
  • The Battletoads arcade game when you think about. The finishers are gorier, the end level score result is called "Korpse Kount" (probably a nod to Mortal Kombat), and there is a little more adult and dirty humor. The only reason this game probably passed the Moral Guardian's radars was because games like Doom and Mortal Kombat were taking all the heat during the 90s.
  • Not exactly the same in Chaos;Head, but the Main Character in there is a typical example of typical Chainsawer 3000 player in the press' eyes. Dellusional freak who sees everywhere only Blood and Gore or Sexual scenes.

Web Animation

  • One Strong Bad email throws a few gag titles up: Blood Bleeder, Head Chopper II, Scab Wars, and Blistergeist. There is the strong suggestion that these games would be really fun to play. It also pokes fun at the Moral Guardians' alternative, because Homestar can only play Clapping Party: no, it's not like DDR, it's just clapping... This is, of course, a one shot joke, and most of the games that Strong Bad plays and enjoys aren't evil whatsoever, varying between Sundae Drivin' and Thy Dungeonman, which is also a real game playable on the site.
    • In another email, he mentions a preference for R-rated movies, apparently independent of factors such as "quality" and "not a waste of moneyosity". So it may not be a statement of the entertainment value of the games (except insofar as even ET would be an improvement over what Homestar's allowed to play) so much as another one of those factors that blurs exactly how old these characters are (when's the last time you automatically equated violence with quality? Probably when you were eight).


  • Gunnerkrigg Court plays this one for laughs on this page, where we see Antimony's first (and presumably last) exposure to video games. To most of you, Antimony's voice will probably sound like the Englishwoman that Peter Griffin put into a coma with a dirty joke.
    • While she is rather appalled at the violence in Grand Theft Auto, Word of Tom states that she did play videogames after that, and was impressed with Shadow of the Colossus, as was Renard.
  • In the Jack arc "Two for You", the character Evan mentions a game entitled "Killing Killers and the Killers Who Kill Them."
  • A User Friendly strip during the Hot Coffee scandal (where it was revealed you could hack GTA: San Andreas to unlock a minigame where you had consensual sex with a woman after a long courtship, outraging moral guardians somehow) listed a number of these games as healthy entertainment, then condemned a title named Boobies as morally corrupt.
  • Occasionally mentioned in Kevin and Kell. However, this being a world that runs of Carnivore Confusion, the games are probably not that violent by their standards.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons has mentioned such games repeatedly and featured them at least twice in the early seasons, once with Super Slugfest, which might have been played straight, once with the hottest new beat-em-up Bonestorm, which really wasn't. Recent addition: Death Kill City 3: Death Kill Stories. 3 guesses what it's based on.
    • Also, "Disembowler IV: the game where condemned criminals dig at each other with rusty hooks."
    • However, they do accidentally mention a real game...
    • The Movie gives us Grand Theft Walrus. And hives. In an arcade cabinet.
      • That actually might not be a bad idea for an arcade game. Insert another coin to come back after you die...
    • Let's not forget "Razorfight 2: The Slashening"
    • Not to mention "Death Kill City 2: Death Kill Stories".
    • The Simpsons being what it is, even Rod and Todd's favorite game, "Billy Graham's Bible Blasters", is a ridiculously over-the-top FPS. "Second Coming! RELOAD! RELOAD!"
  • In Daria (particularly the fanfics), the title heroine and her best friend love playing the video game 'Cannibal Fragfest'.
  • Ben Tennyson, the titular hero of Ben 10 is so enamored of the video game "Sumo Slammers" that he has abused the Omnitrix to get at it and even in it.
  • This trope wouldn't be complete without a mention of the "Vampire Piggy Hunter" series in Invader Zim.
  • A particularly Anvilicious episode of Pepper Ann, "GI Janie", was about this. Pepper Ann's aunt was asked by someone to do a study on the dangers of video games, so she borrows Pepper Ann's system and plays it continuously for "research". As she plays the game (called War Monger) more and more (which looks like a simulation of the Vietnam War), she starts to think she is actually in the game, which looks like Vietnam veteran flashbacks. In the end she declares that videogames are dangerous because they blur the line between reality and fiction.
  • King of the Hill episode "Grand Theft Arlen" features Hank playing a GTA-esque game (probably a Game Mod of San Andreas) known as "Pro-Pain". ("Oh God, I just stabbed a parking attendant. Where's the button to turn yourself in?") It's actually based on his life, being made by a couple of college students to make fun of him.
    • Sort of subverted in the Hank ends up enjoying (and even getting addicted to) the game when he finds out the benefit of the Wide Open Sandbox is that you can choose to do good deeds (like stopping robbers) rather than having to be a criminal himself.
      • Also that the game isn't a nation-wide hit but a local fad, only really popular around Rainey Street. (see Rule of Funny)
    • Another episode has Bobby mention a video game called Face Kicker 3, but it's just a footnote to the main plot (a Strawman Liberal turning the Boy Scouts Expy into a bunch of touchy-feely wimps). When the scoutmaster gets mad at Bobby for showing the game to his kids, Bobby muses "Making all these faces explode can't be good for me."
  • Spoofed on Robot Chicken with Codename: The Abortionator. Highlights include: "Shoot your parents! Urinate on the homeless! Kick a puppy! Make sweet, sweet love to your hot cousin! Or your hot cousin's mentally disabled friend! Take out your aggression the old-fashioned way: with a motor vehicle! Extra points for family members!"
  • The South Park kids play "Thirst for Blood".
  • Re Boot did a few of these when the series went Darker and Edgier. An Evil Dead game, a Mortal Kombat game, and Kron The Destroyer. Shooting zombies, a demon crushing heads, and Kron.