Dead ends are situations in a game in which the player has control over the character, yet they will be unable to finish the game. This usually happens when the player needs to complete an action or obtain an item in order to solve a puzzle, but the required action or item is no longer accessible. Often, but not always, if one continues on into the game, it will lead them to a death situation. In rare examples, a player may be a 'dead man walking', in that they may be able to keep exploring indefinitely and have the freedom to go almost anywhere, yet have no way to proceed, and trying to go forward won't lead them into a death, but they will simply be blocked by a non-lethal barrier.
In KQ5 for example there are many extra death scenes for players unfortunate enough to forget a needed item, and most barriers to pass are lethal. This article should not list simple "Game Deaths".
- In the original 1984 King's Quest (all versions) it is possible to drop inventory items by stating 'drop item' this can lead to a number of dead ends as items are not recoverable after dropping them, and the manual even warned that there was no reason to drop items, though the feature existed. This "feature" was cut in the later 1987 versions of the game.
- If the player cuts the rope to the well after the bucket is in before getting the mirror, they will have no way in getting into the well.
- If one makes it to the Mushroom Isle/Land of the Leprechauns without the cheese (or at least one of the lesser treasures, i.e. pouch of diamonds, gold nugget, gold egg, etc), they will not be able to get past the rat, and will die.
- If the player reaches the Land of Leprechauns without a fiddle or four-leaf clover they will be killed/captured by the leprechauns.
- If one gets to the Land of the Leprechauns without the mushroom, they will be trapped in the land of the leprechauns.
- Potentially having all the lesser treasures stolen or traded as well as losing the goat could prevent a player from reaching the gnome isle.
- Eating the magic beans will lead to a dead end, as it will be impossible to proceed to the Land of the Clouds.
- Having any of the three treasures stolen leads to a dead end. It's possible to 'drop' and break the mirror in some versions, also leading to a dead end.
Note: Getting onto Mushroom Isle/Land of the Leprechauns in the AGI version will not necessarily lead the player to a dead end, as there is a glitch/hidden path that can be used to get back to the main over-world by walking on the edge of the screen across the river. But there is no way to backtrack once one falls into the hole.
These are all the possible dead ends, deaths, and death-resulting dead ends for King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne.
- In the original 1985 King's Quest II (all versions) it is possible to drop inventory items by stating 'drop item' this can lead to a number of dead ends as items are not recoverable after dropping them, and the manual even warned that their was no reason to drop items, though the feature existed. This "feature" was cut in the later 1987 versions of the game.
- If one was to cross the infamous bridge (aka the 'seven crossings bridge') too many times, they might get stuck on either side without the ability to move on. Any more crossings will result in death.
- Eating the chicken soup and not getting the cloak and ring, losing the nightingale and using up any treasures too many times might get players stuck on Dracula's island or prevent them from going to Dracula's island (after too many crossings). There is one treasure on the island (but you would also need the hammer and stake to kill Dracula to get it). Treasures can be used to with various characters including the mermaid and the old lady (this would be extremely complicated and would require a player to try to get stuck).
- You can give the trident to the mermaid. She will disappear after taking it, but will reappear if you leave the screen and return. You may give her a treasure or the flowers and she'll give you the seahorse, but once you enter Neptune's kingdom, he will zap Graham with the trident and kill him.
These are all the possible dead ends, deaths, and death-resulting dead ends for King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human.
- If the player waits too long after speaking to the Oracle, the pirate ship will set sail. This leads to a death message. What makes this a potential dead end is that it is possible to put oneself into a position where the they do not have enough time to complete all the spells (even with the timer pausing while spells are cast). Thus it is possible to be stuck in a situation where the ship leaves before the player can finish all the spells (either due to lack of needed ingredients or simply time running out between spell casting).
- Using up the coins improperly (i.e. buying drinks in the bar) will make it impossible to pay the pirates, leading to death once they leave.
- Due to the timer it is possible to miscalculate the time needed to return to the house to hide things under the bed. It is possible to find oneself trapped at the bottom of the mountain with not enough time to return to Alexander's bedroom before Manannan returns/wakes up. If you have any of the spell items on you, you will be killed (this can be avoided by being robbed by the bandits). If he doesn't have any spell ingredients, and its first time Manannan catches Alexander he will be scolded and teleported back up the mountain.
- It's possible to run out of food to give to Manannan, leading ultimately to death the next time he asks for food.
- Eating the porridge will leave no way to hide the cat cookie and, therefore, to defeat Manannan. This will ultimately lead to death.
- If the player throws Gwydion's knife into the spider-web, the player would be unable to retrieve the knife due to the giant spider inhabiting the web. This results in the dead end of the player not being able to cut off part of a cactus, which is needed for a potion. Or completing any spell that might require the knife.
- If Alexander fails to defeat Manannan and boards the ship, he will be killed by Manannan on the ship or once he lands on the other continent (depending on how much time he spent on board the ship). Note: Rumor has it that Manannan is not scripted to appear in continent of Daventry, so the player makes it off the ship, it might be possible to avoid Manannan. This should be testable using the in-game cheat code.
- It's possible to leave Llewdor without all the needed spells, leading to being blocked in multiple locations (killed if you try to progress forward), although some barriers like the yeti are randomized but have a high rate of appearing (deaths assorted).
- If the player talks to the pirate captain too often without having anything of interest to him, the captain will no longer wish to speak to Gwydion, thus making it impossible to speak to him later when the correct item to present to the captain is acquired. After enough time captain will sail away, leading to a stuck in Llewdor game death/ending.
These are all the possible dead ends, deaths, and death-resulting dead ends for King's Quest IV: The Perils Of Rosella.
- It's possible for one to lose their chance to catch the unicorn if they shoot it and don't have the bridle, or if they shoot something else, since the quiver only has two arrows.
- Letting time progress in real time without solving certain puzzles can prevent those puzzles from being solved. In particular, if the night passes before getting the key to to the crypt, it will become impossible to get Pandora's box.
- Using up all the love arrows will prevent the player from defeating Lolotte.
- Not having the fish before going to Desert Isle will lead to death on the island.
- Not having the feather in the whale's mouth will lead to death in the whale.
- Breaking shovel before digging out all 5 items (shovel breaks after five digs).
Note: Most dead ends will ultimately lead to one of the game's alternate endings. In general, it will be the one where time progresses to the point where Genesta dies, and Rosella becomes trapped in Tamir, never to see her father again as he dies as well. However, once all three treasures are given to Lolotte, any dead end will lead to the wedding after time runs out, or death by Lolotte.
These are all the possible dead ends, deaths, and death-resulting dead ends for King's Quest V: Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder.
In KQ5, the dead-ends lead to deaths in most cases; sometimes unique deaths that only appear because one forgot certain items before entering a new area.
Unique deaths include; Getting eaten by man-eating plant in the Dark Forest, being killed by a giant spider in the Dark Forest, and getting grabbed by the henchman outside of Mordack's castle and taken to the dungeon..
- In the floppy version, if one fails to cast spells properly (such as the unlocking spell on the witch's door or strength spell on the boat), then they cannot proceed further. Any attempts to move on may lead to death (however as the spells are randomized it is possible to avoid these situations altogether by simply reloading until the player can pass on; this may require saving before the player enters a screen with a potential spell barrier).
- If you miss saving the rat (with the stick or the shoe), he will not be able to rescue you from the cellar. You will die after a short time. (The NES version avoids this by allowing the sequence to take place again if you return to the screen, until you get it right, and only the shoe works)
- If you rescue the rat but forget to help the cobbler, you will be rescued in the cellar but with no way to destroy the padlock and will still die after a short time. The only clue being a lock on the door.
- Waiting too long to enter the desert temple and picking up the two items or not picking up the two items, will prevent one from solving later puzzles (any attempt to progress forward will end in death).
- If you enter the forest with the amulet, but lack items needed to defeat the witch or escape the forest you will cause the player to become lost forever (NES version), or be eaten by a giant spider or man-eating plants (PC versions).
- If you throw the emeralds to the elves, but either don't put the honeycomb on the ground (turning the honeycomb into beeswax which will trap the elf), or just don't have the honeycomb before entering the forest, you will again be trapped in the woods, leading to those same deaths.
- If you eat the custard pie or feed it to the eagle, you will be unable to replace it, thus rendering yourself defenseless against the Yeti. This is considered the most infamous dead end in the game because you can do it very early in the game and the pie's purpose does not become apparent until much later. The only clue that you are not to eat the pie, comes from the game taking points away for eating it.
- The golden needle or the gold coin can be traded for other items, but it may prevent you from trading for the items specifically needed using those items (the gold coin and the gold needle can be switched, except in the NES version).
- If you forget the rope, there is no way getting back into the cellar and therefore no way to climb the cliff.
- The golden heart can be traded for the cloak, the sled, or a custard pie or the harp can be left behind. If you do not have the harp you will die when Icebella sends the wolves to kill you .
- If you eat the entire lamb leg or fail to give the leg of lamb to the eagle you will die in the nest, as the eagle will not save you.
- If you get to the point that is captured by the wolves, but have nothing to eat you will starve if you try to walk any further, or the waterfall step will collapse if you try to go back.
- If you don't have the sled you cannot go back, and if you try to go forward the ice bridge will collapse if you try to cross it (slip down the hill to your death in the NES version).
- In the giant bird's nest, you have only a few seconds to grab the locket, required to befriend Cassima. Not getting the locket will result in Graham trapped in the cell forever.
- If you forget the conch, while leaving the island, you will not be able to help the old man to hear (you will be killed the moment you return to the island).
- It is possible to forget the hook as well after leaving the island, which will result in not being able to get the cheese, leading to Mordack killing Graham, as he can't activate the machine.
- It's possible to forget the crystal needed to get past the twin statues. Thus any attempt to go forward or back is lethal (a giant squid blocks the way back).
- Throwing the rope onto the branch will result in death if you try to climb it (if you saved you can't go any further).
- If Graham does not examine the tome in Mordack's library before the end battle, he cannot change himself into anything and will die when Mordack transforms.
- Its possible to miss getting the cheese which will prevent activation of the machine later in the game. Mordack will kill you.
- Failing to rescue Cedric will cause Graham to be hit by magic and die shortly before the final battle.
- Failing to capture Manannan will cause him to alert Mordack, causing the wizard to appear later and kill you (but Manannan is randomized so it is possible to completely avoid him).
- It's possible to forget the crowbar needed to open the gate into the labyrinth, which leads to the henchman appearing outside of the castle and taking Graham to the dungeon where he dies.
These are all the possible dead ends, deaths, and death-resulting dead ends for King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.
- If Alexander visits the Winged Ones without having all of the required items he will be tossed into the catacombs with no way to proceed or escape (the winged ones will issue a warning if you are missing items the first time). This leads to dead ends. Items needed include the hole in the wall, a brick, the tinderbox, and the red scarf.
- It's possible to lose the hole in the wall in the catacombs if used incorrectly too many times, trapping the player in the catacombs usually leading to the player wandering into the Minotaur after a while.
- Another dead end involves entering the castle without the nightingale during the short path, you will have no way to distract the guard. Ultimately Alexander will be captured.
- Waiting too long after distracting the guard, you will lose chance of infiltrating the vizier's bedroom or talking to Cassima if you save after they return.
- If you forget the peppermint leaf and/or the correct bottle you will not be able to defeat Shamir Shamazel. He will kill you.
- If you forget the skeleton key in the land of the dead during the long path, you cannot get the needed letter from the chest to get past Saladin.
- If you forgot to talk to the mama ghost and forget the handkerchief you will not be able help the boy ghost, you cannot learn about the secret exit, and the ghost will eventually draw the notice of the guards with its racket, leading them to find Alexander.
- Forgetting to give the dagger to Cassima will lead to death in the final battle.
- If you break the rotten egg on yourself you will not be able to charm Night Mare, if you do this after visiting the Druids you cannot proceed along the long path any further, and you no longer have the dress for the short path. You can also not be able to charm her if you forget the skull (although it is possible to return to the catacombs to get the skull).
- If you forget the gauntlet, you cannot get past Samhain.
- If you forget the copper coins you cannot get past Charon.
- If you send anything other than the ring to Cassima first, she will tell Sing-Sing to fly somewhere else. This prevents Alexander from obtaining Cassima's lock of hair and therefore unable to cast one of the spells. You can still use the hair from the maidens dress, unless the dress has been burned first (which will cause a dead end, as the short path is no longer possible)
- If you exchange the map for Alexander's Ring before talking to Beauty, you will be unable to leave the Isle of the Beast.
- If you miss the scythe on your first visit to the Isle of Mists, you won't be able to get the falling water, which is needed to save you the next time you visit the Isle of Mists (you are immediately captured the second time you visit). You also won't be able to help Beauty, so both endings become impossible.
These are all the possible dead ends, deaths, and death-resulting dead ends for King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride.
- In chapter 1 there is a puzzle with 3 colored gems. These gems can be placed to overlap in some situations. Walking away from the puzzle in this state results in a gem disappearing, requiring a new file to continue.
- In the 2006 King's Quest Collection, in Kings Quest 7 version 1.40, there is a glitch outside in the town of Falderal that can make the game unwinnable. First take the wooden nickel, then talk to Chicken Petite after the moon cheese falls. Then click on the moon cheese to have Valanice examine it, triggering the lockup glitch.
(Be warned this will trigger a lockup glitch that prevents the wooden nickel from highlighting in the Faux shop and it will cause a dead end preventing you from buying the book from the mockturtle and getting the crook staff. Be sure to save first, or you will have to restart chapter 3.)
Note: There is a bad ending if the player forgets the extra life. Edgar will be killed by Malicia.
These are all the possible dead ends, deaths, and death-resulting dead ends for King's Quest VIII: Mask of Eternity.
It's possible to get outside the boundaries of the maps in a few places. This can lead to 'dead ends', and no way back into the regular portions of the map, short of using the 'debug' mode to teleport back into the main map. In some maps teleport will make it impossible to leave the map, as it teleports you below the map.
Behind the scenes
There are a few additional situations that could have turned out to be dead ends, but they are averted. For example in KQ2 once you go to the Enchanted Isles there is no way back to Kolyma. Two barriers are in the way, one is the ocean to get to the island where Valanice is kept. The net needed to get to the island is on the beach, and there are unlimited number of fish in case the player happens to kill a fish. The second barrier the lion, is no problem to get by as the player will always have the sword from the genie, even if they had forgotten to get the ham.
The 'home' amulet can be used before Valanice is rescued to get a special "death" end scene. Although this is technically not quite the same kind of 'dead end' (specifically requiring the player's choice on the matter and actions goes on autoplay after the choice is made).
In KQ4 there are two alternate endings depending on if player runs out of time (real time clock), forgets to get the fruit, or fails to escape the night locked in the Lolotte's castle. Some of these can be caused by true dead ends.
In KQ5 script files are references to "walkingDead" in areas that are on a timer, and intentionally meant to kill you have a while or certain actions. Such as in the inn's basement.
Some people assume that if you kill the snake in King's Quest II it results in a dead end, however it is still possible to move through the poison thorns without the sugar cube, It just a more difficult 'maze' mini-game (one of the so-called 'arcade' sequences similar to the cliff walking in KQ3, or the beanstalk in KQ1).