There's no feeling quite like screaming at your TV in frustration as a video game character makes an intensely idiotic decision which seems entirely antithetical to their own survival.
It's distressingly common, as it is across most media, yet the greater interactivity of gaming only heightens the irritation players will feel against characters whose self-preservation instincts are, if we're being kind, a teensy bit non-existent.
Refreshing it is, then, when characters actually make smart decisions, whether to preserve their own hide or for the greater good.
Though we can't always expect people to make sensible choices under intense stress, these 9 video games characters all allowed their cooler instincts to prevail when the chips were down.
But the tragic irony is that the smart and morally right decision was ultimately one which led to death regardless.
Perhaps that was part of the trade-off or simply an unfortunate, unexpected by-product of their actions, but in each case these games proved that using your brain doesn't always guarantee a tragedy-free outcome...
9. Choosing Revenge - Grand Theft Auto IV
At the end of Grand Theft Auto IV, the player is given two options: make a deal with villainous drug dealer Dimitri Rascalov for $250,000, or simply seek revenge against him for kidnapping Niko's cousin Roman earlier in the game.
Roman urges Niko to take the deal to make a better life for himself, while Niko's girlfriend Kate suggests he shouldn't take money over principles or risk being double-crossed by Dimitri.
There isn't really much of a choice here: listen to your boneheaded cousin or your street-smart girlfriend? The only smart decision is to take revenge over money, because leaving Dimitri alive is just too much of a risk.
But of course, somebody close to Niko dies no matter which ending you pick, and in the Revenge ending, poor Kate is gunned down by an infuriated Jimmy Pegorino, who initially brokered the deal between Niko and Dimitri.
Trying to wipe out your mortal enemy is certainly wiser than leaving him around to stitch you up later on, but sadly Niko had a blindspot he didn't even know about, and Kate paid the price for it regardless.
8. Using Ellie To Create A Vaccine - The Last Of Us
The Last of Us' Marlene is one of the most sympathetic and relatable "villains" in video game history, given her totally understandable desire to synthesise a vaccine to Cordyceps by any means necessary.
Marlene's goal throughout the game is to gain custody of Ellie so that her immune brain can be experimented upon in the hope of creating a vaccine, but killing Ellie in the process.
Given that it's stated that 60% of the world's population has been killed or infected by Cordyceps, Marlene's willingness to sacrifice a single human life for the sake of billions is completely logical.
Unfortunately experimenting on Ellie wasn't so easy in practise, due to a hot-headed Joel deciding he couldn't continue his journey alone after having previously lost his daughter, instead violently "rescuing" Ellie by murdering any Fireflies who get in his way, including eventually Marlene herself.
Marlene's only misstep, clearly, was not killing Joel the second he showed up, as her fellow Fireflies recommended.
But her plan was completely sound otherwise: sacrificing a single human life to save billions makes all the sense in the world, and Joel threw it all away for his own selfish (if also understandable) ends.
7. Saving Arcadia Bay - Life Is Strange
Life Is Strange forces players to make one of the toughest moral decisions in the history of video games: go back in time and allow Max's best friend Chloe to die in order to save Arcadia Bay, or allow Arcadia Bay to be destroyed by the incoming storm to keep Chloe alive.
It's a very clear mind vs. heart dilemma, and to that end the only decision that really makes much practical sense is the utilitarian one, to lay down Chloe's life in order to ensure countless more lives aren't lost in Arcadia Bay's destruction.
If you do indeed make the "right" decision, you're subjected to an intensely bittersweet ending as Max attends Chloe's funeral.
As such, it's little surprise that many players instead followed their heart by saving their best pal - if condemning possibly thousands to death in the process.
There's only one smart call to make, even if it's an absolutely heart-wrenching one.
6. Poisoning Batman - Batman: Arkham City
By the beginning of Batman: Arkham City, The Joker is infected with the fatal Titan Disease, and desperate to save his own skin, makes an undeniably smart decision to ensure his own survival: infecting Batman with the disease and waiting for him to get a cure for them both.
After all, who better to save your life than Gotham's indefatigable crime-fighting superhero who prides himself on never allowing even his worst enemy to die?
And The Joker's plan very nearly pays off, as at the end of the game Batman does indeed come up with two doses of the cure for himself and The Joker.
But after the Caped Crusader cures himself and ponders the morality of letting the Clown Prince of Crime live, an antsy Joker can't resist attacking him any longer, causing Batman to drop The Joker's vial on the floor and sending his cure quite literally down the drain.
Quite aptly, The Joker hatched a brilliant plan to ensure his own survival, but also couldn't bear the thought of teaming up with Batman for another second, and so by attacking him more or less got himself killed. That The Joker died a deeply ironic death is only too apt.
5. Feigning Defection To Prevent World War III - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
The Boss is one of the most fascinating characters in the entire Metal Gear Solid saga, initially presented in the third game as Big Boss' villainous former mentor who defects from the U.S. to the U.S.S.R.
But at the end of the game, it's of course revealed that The Boss never actually defected at all. Rather, she simply feigned defection in order to infiltrate Volgin's ranks and secure the Philosophers' Legacy, a $100 billion fund which, in the wrong hands, could be used to bankroll the next world war.
Yet sadly The Boss knew that in order for the U.S. to be absolved of a nuclear attack she was blamed for earlier in the game, she also needed to die at Big Boss' hand and be branded a traitor to the general public.
As a result, the game ends with only Big Boss and a select few others knowing that The Boss was truly one of the greatest heroes who has ever lived. She laid down her life to prevent World War III, a decision as brave as it was smart.
4. Destroying The Alpha Relay - Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2's Arrival DLC set the stage for Mass Effect 3 in a major way with Commander Shepard's climactic act of colliding an asteroid into the Alpha Relay, destroying it in order to prevent the Reapers from using it to invade the galaxy.
Shepard made the only logical choice when the entire fate of the galaxy was at stake, but his decision certainly wasn't without a major cost, as the resulting explosion killed more than 300,000 Batarian colonists.
Shepard ended up on trial for his actions in Mass Effect 3, though destroying the Alpha Relay did stall the Reapers by roughly six months, and so with trillions of lives at stake, sacrificing "only" 300,000 was most certainly worth the time it bought.
It was an impossible decision, but the only one Shepard could conscionably make given the variables at hand.
3. Trying To Stop The Terrorists - Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's "No Russian" is by far the most controversial mission in the franchise's history, as the player goes undercover with terrorist Makarov while he and his comrades massacre a Russian airport.
Players are able to skip the mission entirely should they wish, but even if they play it, they're under no obligation to actually shoot any civilians. However, as players soon realised, the game did allow them to open fire on the four terrorists themselves in a desperate bid to stop the terrorist attack.
If you're going to attempt it, the most sensible time to try it is right at the start of the mission as the elevator doors open and the four gunmen are all directly in front of you, but alas, no matter when you try to save the day, Makarov and his men will quickly gun you down if you try to prevent the attack.
The good intent was there, but sadly not the follow-through.
2. Choosing To Cure New York - Spider-Man
At the end of Insomniac's Spider-Man, Peter Parker is faced with a brutal dilemma: give the cure for the Devil's Breath bioweapon to a mortally ill Aunt May, or instead hand it over to scientists to mass produce and inoculate all of New York.
The player is given no choice in the matter, but Peter thankfully makes the smart - if heartbreaking - decision to save millions of lives at the cost of May's.
Any other decision would just feel counter to everything Spider-Man stands for, and the game does a fantastic job conveying the emotional weight of Peter's decision.
It was the right choice without question, but led to the death of his only remaining guardian figure in the process.
1. Refusing To Fight - Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Valiant Hearts: The Great War is one of the greatest video games about war ever made, a beautifully artful anti-war statement that concludes in jaw-droppingly devastating fashion.
The ending sequence sees one of the game's four player characters, Emile, taking part in the First World War's brutal Nivelle Offensive.
After his commanding officer tries to force his troops to suicidally charge into the line of fire, Emile does the only thing he possibly can: smacks the officer over the head with a shovel.
When faced with otherwise certain death, it was the only choice. But sadly, Emile's outburst ends up killing the officer, and the final moments of Valiant Hearts see Emile being executed by firing squad for his actions.
If nothing else, it brilliantly cements the dehumanising futility of war, yet under pressing circumstances, it was the only rational, life-preserving decision left to him.
Though Emile tragically ended up going to his death, his defiance nevertheless saved the lives of at least some of his fellow men amid an intensely bloody conflict.