The Worst Heroes In Video Games

For the most part, the player character is the hero of the story. We all have our favourites. But there's also the other side of the coin: the heroes and stars of the story that are total arseholes.

For clarity here, I'm talking the kind of characters you actively wish a glassing upon, the "heroes" that are grating from start to finish. There are some characters who you're designed to hate, some of which are written so well that it'd be rude not to mention them.

But this is for the characters who largely don't deserve that honour. They're a blight on an otherwise good game, or the focal point of everything that's wrong. A virtual boat anchor, if you will.

Like these folk.

Aiden Pearce

Ahh, Watch Dogs. A game that had so much ambition, only to be dragged down at almost every stage by an aggravatingly bland bloke with the world's most overpowered iPhone. Sure, there's a lot more that's wrong with the game, like the atrocious drinking game and the constant tonal shifts.

That would be excusable if Pearce was a character you could get behind. But Pearce fails to appreciate those around him, vows revenge all the time, and constantly regrets the past. He questions the many breaches of privacy by the all-seeing ctOS, but then carries on brutalising and invading the personal and virtual space of those around him with abandon.

Ditching Pearce for Marcus Holloway was one of the best things Watch Dogs 2 could have done. Pearce was almost completely irredeemable as a character; when the supposed enemies have more charm and are more likeable, it's time to abort.

Tidus

I rest my case. I could make others, but it's not needed. Fuck Tidus.

Desmond Miles

I wanted to pick Connor, the focus for much of Assassin's Creed 3, but if we're being real Desmond is the true skidmark of the playable assassins. It doesn't help that Desmond's environments are the least interesting, the most visually bland and often little better than tutorial levels or blank canvasses for exposition.

But Desmond himself is bland too. At one point during the games, he's described as someone with "no ambition, no direction, no plans for the future". Sounds about right.

Robert Hawkins

The chances that you've heard of Robert Hawkins should be precisely zero, because that's about the total number of people who played Enemy Front outside of the developers.

Enemy Front billed itself as the "first truly modern WW2 FPS". In 2014. Which might have been true if it didn't crash constantly, wasn't beset with glitches the rest of the time, and sported possibly the worst "journalist" seen in a video game since J. Jonah Jameson.

Hawkins plays a journalist, who somehow manages to get behind enemy lines to support resistance movements in Norway, Germany and Poland. And yet, during cutscenes when he's travelling with said resistance fighters, he tells them to their face that he's only doing this for "the major front pages".

Unlikable arsehole plus total bullshit and the worst of '90s level design? The first truly modern WW2 shooter, truly. You could probably grab Enemy Front for $2 or less in the next Steam sale.

But don't.

Squall

Spoiler alert: emo protagonists do not make for good "heroes". Ever. Squall isn't the worst in this regard, and your tolerance for his incessant whinging may be much greater than mine.

But does it really need to take 50+ hours for the main character to stop being an arsehole? Rinoa deserves so much better.

Neku

Case in point: Neku, the worst thing about The World Ends With You. Fantastic game otherwise — and a good use-case for the Switch as a tablet — but good God, Neku is an unlikable brat. A pain in the arse right until the final chapter, Neku's shitty behaviour is genuinely aggravating. It gets a lot easier to deal with when more of TWEWY's pins and item system opens up.

But those first two days? If letting the Noise win was an option, I'm taking it every day of the week.

Bonnie

If there was an Olympic event for being a piece of shit video game character, the bookies would have short odds on Bonnie. Initially, Bonnie's established as a sympathetic, caring, likeable character. Except:

  • She betrays the entire group, whether you show her kindness or not
  • She blames Clementine for the death of Dee, which 1000% was not Clementine's fault
  • Watches Clementine get shot — and then runs off, without leaving any supplies or actually doing a single thing beyond leaving her in the snow
  • She was a junkie before the world went to shit which, on the scale of things, doesn't help

What's super frustrating though is that Bonnie is destined to leave. You can like her or hate her, but she'll always bail. And if Bonnie was a pain in the arse from the outset, that'd be more forgivable — at least she'd be upfront then. But Bonnie is just a constant disappointment, a traitor no matter what, and a truly shitty character.

Booker

Image: Bioshock Wiki

An alcoholic and gambling addict that ends up selling their child for a fresh start. The more you learn about Booker, the worse a character he becomes. Booker stands out in that he doesn't actively Bioshock Infinite a better or worse experience, but as a shitty dad and a trash hero, I tip my soiled hat to the PI.

Emily

Until Dawn has multiple main characters that you have to control, initially at least. And one of those is the instantly grating, melodramatic diva Emily.

In a way, Emily is a massive success for Supermassive. You're supposed to hate her. She's supposed to be annoying beyond compare. So in a way, Emily doesn't quite belong. She's fulfilling a classic teen horror role — the character the audience actively wants to die.

But traditional teen horror movies don't have Platinum trophies. And if you want that trophy, or just the satisfaction of navigating all the puzzles and quicktime events, everyone has to survive.

Even Emily. Ughhhhhhhhhhh.


What "heroes" from video games do you despise?


Comments

    Riku
    Freya
    Max Payne
    Sareth
    Any of Diablo 1's short memoried player characters

    There was a scene in Until Dawn that helps you empathise with Matt and Emily and make them a little less two dimensional. But it was cut out of the main game to be distributed as pre-order DLC.

    I only found out about this a while after playing the game, and it doesn't look like there is any way to get this DLC if you didn't pre-order way back when. Here's a video of the missing chapter:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdItyMt3m2A

    While this does look like it would improve the game, I'll admit I would have been hesitant about spending money on "Emily DLC" after playing the game...

      Eh, I disliked pretty much the entire cast of Until dawn with the exception of the main character. They were all unlikable in their own way, and were shit people. They were teenagers though, so I guess it makes sense in a way

    Wow. Watch Dogs criticism so damn far off the mark. When choosing between bland and cringey-as-fuck, I pick bland. Marcus was so intolerable to me that he had me wishing for some kind of character swap to the hypocritical, emo-shit Aiden.

    Anyway, my pick was for every single player-faction character in Homefront Revolution. You're supposedly a member of a resistance cell, and your first encounter with the 'heroes of the resistance' in a different city is to get clubbed over the head and almost executed on the spot, until a frightening psychopath intervenes, because they've decided it will be more fun to torture you to death instead of immediate execution. You're strapped to a chair and threatened with torture before you can bother to open your mouth to say you're with the resistance. Dumb shits didn't even ask. A doctor expresses his concern for your clear and obvious case of concussion and is blown off. Real American Heroes don't need medical treatment, apparently.

    These are the people you're meant to sympathize with. People who claim with a straight face that superior training, technology, logistic support, strategic and tactical advantages and unified command structures with advanced intel ops are all inferior in the face of good ol' American steel and pluck, because Americans are somehow born just more star-spangled awesome than anyone else, and manifest destiny will take care of the rest.

    Every time you take over an area occupied by the NKs, that area gets transformed into a garbage-filled ghetto, covered in graffiti tags, empty beer cans, and other litter. Apparently 'freedom' in this game is the freedom to turn once-livable spaces into junkie squats.

    It was the single most revolting game I've ever played, in terms of having despicable characters in the player faction. The game mechanics and some of the storytelling devices are actually pretty fun, especially if you don't encounter the bugs the game was famous for, but the jingoism of the 'heroes' pretty quickly becomes intolerable.

      Aiden wasn't bland; he was actively aggravating. Don't forget those awful family cutscenes/missions.

      Homefront Revolution is a good pick. If we can stretch the thread a little further, I'd pick the original: a game so drawn out I wanted the whole resistance to lose, if only so the game would end.

      What a dumpster fire that game was.

      I liked Marcus. Both Watch Dogs games' main characters were shallow, but at least Marcus was fun and you could play him as something other than a mass murderer.

    Rinoa deserves so much better.They kind of deserved each other really.

    One hero I've never really found an appreciation for is Johnny Gat from the Saints Row series. He always feels like that friend that everyone "likes" because they have their uses but you just wish they wouldn't keep turning up to your house uninvited all the time.

      Agreed - it felt like they were always pushing Gat on you & reminding you how awesome & cool he is but completely went over my head; give me pearce & shaundi any day.

    I liked Neku. Yes he was a prick, but he was a prick who redeemed himself each time.

    Spoiler alert
    End of the first week, he allows Shiki to go because he does care for her. That's why he was so pissed when he found out that she ended up being the thing that was held hostage as collateral for the games round.
    He still hasn't grown though, he's still selfish and is shutting out others. That's what the next two weeks are about, learning that you shouldn't close yourself off from others. He is a shit, but I quite enjoyed the banter between Neku and Beat. I hate Joshua though.

    Can’t believe you picked on Squall (or to a much lesser extent Tidus for that matter) and didn’t mention Lightning, Hope or Vanille!

    Sure there’s not many here who play Star Ocean, but from number 4, holy geezus - Lymle. Just UGH!

    Niko from GTA IV (i actually liked Roman) would by my (mainstream) nomination.

    Other M's Samus and Adam, what a rotten interpretation of the two.

      Ya know, I played Other M in Japanese recently they come across more... reluctant/i> and less abrasive. It's like Samus is growing, not cringing.
      I now think the localisation soiled it.

        Wish I understood Japanese to be able to check it out. I've always said it's mechanically a great Metroid game, it's just the story that lets it down (although even localisation can't get around the stupid malfunctiony suit BS and how they did Adam's departure, or the fact it basically straight-out rehashed Fusion).

    I honestly can't really understand Neku on here? Surely for the first 5 days of the game (which is 21) he's pretty bad and self involved. But he grows as a character more than most other games even try? The only really comparable arc in video games is Luke Fon Fabre.

    He grows a ton, and becomes a very likable character, but he's not nearly that bad, and he isn't "a pain until the final chapter". Makes it hard to believe you gave his character a chance even, or are that far in the game. He might be a character archetype you dislike, which is fine, but no where near deserves a part on this list.

    The malfunctionary suit shits me in all Metroid games. I wish they'd just develop it like it's a symbiote or something that is slightly aware of its own existence and chooses to hold back skills. It'd be much better than "Welp, Samus is on a new adventure! Time to start from scratch!" every game.

    Rufus from the Deponia series is definitely the worst main character. He starts as an asshole, and even when playing the hero he is still an asshole.

    I'll never finish that series because he sucks so much.

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