In the anime it is said that if you try to remove the helmet it would destroy the brain - so what if you pull it off quick enough that it doesn't have a chance to?

Certainly, it's not impossible; and on that note, why did they not just use an EMP on the device to begin with, frying the circuits so there is no way for the battery to power the microwave transmitter?

Is there some law of physics I am missing here?

  • 1
    My question, Why didnt they use the newer super safe model of nervegear and dove into Sword Art Online, then communicated with everyone from the real world to the virtual world Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 5:25
  • Post new questions as new questions. But here's an idea. The network had been taken over by Kayaba, It was therefore running independent of the game company, as they had no administrative access. Therefore, how could new users log in? Also, the "newer super safe" model, likely took a while to develop, I am not sure if the manga/anime states how long it took after SAO for the new headgear to come out, but yeah, development isn't instantaneous.....How long was Oculus Rift in development? Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 5:35
  • @DavidNazzaro unless Rect Progress was working on the AmuSphere before Argus or Kayaba release the NervGear it took them less than 2 years as Leafa was already playing ALO when Kirito woke up and he was in SAO for 2 years, but ofcause they did aquire Argus so they proably had a good head start if they started the AmuSphere after the NervGear. also in Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment Leafa said she was able to get into SAO by finding a NervGear and a copy of SAO
    – Memor-X
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 10:48

3 Answers 3


I have to assume that some people at least tried.

For your initial examples, there simply isn't any canon information to help us. I am quite certain that there would be a huge political backlash which would attract attention, and the families of the trapped players would also be seeking out help. However the entire story was told from the point of the players, and there was no announcement that anyone made it out alive otherwise. That means details of various failed experiments simply added to the near 4k dead by the end of the experiment.

However I believe that it was entirely possible to release all of the players, but then a very delusional man named Sugou came along.

The biggest thing that I want to stress is that the brain-frying function of the NerveGear was understood very little. While it was explained to everyone within SAO, we have no idea how much information was given on the outside.

Except we know that the company who developed SAO, Argus, went bankrupt due to the SAO incident. Their assets were acquired by RECT Progress Inc., who formed a Fulldive division headed by Sugou to overlook the SAO servers and assets including the Cardinal System. Furthermore, we can tell that they have the direct source code to the system based off the modifications that they have been able to make. This includes upgrading the system to improve on things that it couldn't do before, and also modifying the Logout function to redirect 300 users to their own server.

Here we're dealing with a team of people that has access to the full server software, the hardware that it runs on, and the connection that goes out from it. On top of that, this team has full documentation on the NerveGear (they did co-develop the NerveGear's successor), and they have shown to be able to modify the existing SAO game. This means that this team, with time and patience, could have done any of the following:

  • Restore the logout button
  • Forcibly log everyone out
  • Modify the "death" script to no longer instruct the NerveGear to fry the brain
  • Disable the NerveGear remotely

However this didn't happen. Instead, 300 unlucky people were transferred from the hands of one madman to another.

Now remember that this one small division of people were responsible for the lives of many thousands of people, and they had nefarious plans. It was in their interest to keep the players inside the game in order to avoid any attention to their true goals. They were so good about keeping secrets that they were able to design an entire game world around the very place they did the experiments in, and not one person in the company found out. Remember that this was such a commercial success that Sugou was to inherit the company, however nobody else in the company figured out what was going on.

What's even worse about this secrecy is that this treasure-trove of information is kept from the public. The "experts" in the field are the exact same people who want to keep everybody in the game. Now if you wanted to free your relative from a death game, would you put your trust in Joe Schmoe who has a theory but no solid evidence? Or would you trust the kind team of dedicated individuals who are experts in this area and tell you that nothing can be done?

  • 2
    People actually did try. In the anime in the first episode during the scene where everyone is gathered for the game master announcement, Kayaba stated, "Unfortunately it's certainly possible that a players family or friends would ignored this warning and attempt to forcibly remove the NerveGear. As proof of this, 213 players have retired from both this world and the real one."
    – FatalSleep
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 9:26
  • Half this answer assumes that Sugou et al actually did have update capabilities for SAO, regardless of having source code/other documentation. The simplest way to prevent new updates being downloaded is to issue new code signing keys. I'm convinced even Sugou was locked out, or he probably would have tried to get ahold of Asuna sooner... Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 11:24
  • @clockwork having control of the hardware the code runs on as well as the network itself, hacking into the game to find any such information would be trivial for a company that size. They've been able to add new features and upgrades to the new Cardinal system that ALO was based off of. The fact that they were able to modify one of SAO's functions, the logout function, proves that they had the ability to modify the existing software. I think that they didn't grab asuna right away because they wanted to be discreet.
    – BlueBuddy
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 14:35
  • @Thebluefish - Kayaba modified the logout function for SAO. Sugou didn't get to siphon people off until the logout happened, at which point a bunch of things would have been unlocked. Having access to program source isn't the same as the running system. Given current trends in computing hardware, I'm fairly certain that future machines will actually be (generally) safe from physical presence based intrusions. Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:27

I can think of two reasons:

  1. Plot.
  2. They wouldn't want to risk someone's life for an experiment with EMP, who knows what kinds of backups does the NerveGear has, and EMP can be guarded against.

As for yanking, a computer would have a much faster reaction time than you.

  • 1
    Then the question standing is, why not use a machine using hydraulics to pull it off?
    – Denslat
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 13:10
  • I think somewhere in the anime they mentioned that the headgear had an internal battery storage. Could anyone check this for me?
    – John Odom
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:43
  • 1
    @JohnOdom There is, but an EMP (or Electromagnetic Pulse) will supposedly fry all circuits in the device before it gets to activate it. Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 17:45
  • @JohnOdom that is correct, Kayaba mentions this on the first day when he is mentioning that unplugging the Nervgear from power wont release them (as the internal battery will kick in). also one would be needed in order to transport victims to hospitals (remember that Kirito was in his room when he first started playing but wakes up in a hospital. i assume it is the same with Asuna)
    – Memor-X
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 21:23
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    @MadaraUchiha The fact that the NerveGear can use microwaves to fry someone's brain and it not being flagged as a potential hazard by regulatory authorities is probably a good indication that Kayaba kept alot of secrets about the NerveGear hidden even from his employers.
    – Memor-X
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 21:28

It was mentioned that the machine intercepted their nervous system so they can't walk around when telling their brains to walk in the VR world (Why they're usually in bed when playing).

I would think the removal process involved restoring those neural connections. Yanking or disrupting this process probably resulted in permanent paralysis/neurological issues.

  • I think this isn't the case. Considering how dangerous the NerveGear would be otherwise, I don't think they would design it to cause damage if it was removed.
    – BlueBuddy
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 18:03
  • they also mention in the first episode, that a family member can remove the helmet, so the "log out" button was not the only way.
    – Denslat
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 18:47
  • @Thebluefish The OP is talking about the first version (When they were stuck in SAO). A little under 4000 have been killed by the NerveGear. swordartonline.wikia.com/wiki/Sword_Art_Online
    – Eejin
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 21:01
  • @Eejin I realize that. The SAO incident got widespread attention very early on because it was killing people when the helmet was removed. That indicates that this was not the intended behavior of the device and it could be normally safely removed.
    – BlueBuddy
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 21:11

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