Fan wikis are incredible resources. You’ll find all kinds of factoids, histories and profiles on these pages, and more information than you could ever need about your favourite games, TV shows and movies. If you’re a Left 4 Dead fan, you might find something else on its wiki, too: the strange ballad of a being known as ‘Purple Francis’.
Purple Francis was first noticed by Twitter user @thinkiamsad who pointed out a vandal had created a new profile page for the character on the Left 4 Dead wiki and included in-text references on multiple other pages, including one detailing the game’s nine unique playable characters. He was even photoshopped into an image of the Survivors.
As of writing, Purple Francis still exists on the Wiki as a piece of technically ‘canon’ game lore.
Now, Purple Francis is not the same as plain old protagonist Francis. While in the wiki notes they share a resemblance, Purple Francis is different… because he’s purple. While regular Francis often banters with his fellow survivors and has a girlfriend, Purple Francis is mostly quiet and owned a root beer factory before the apocalypse hit. The wiki claims he once had a wife and three children, and that one of his daughters had an affair with Ronald Reagan.
According to the wiki, Purple Francis is dead at the time of Left 4 Dead‘s main campaign but several cutscenes allegedly refer to the character.
Further information about Purple Francis appears to indicate he’s an incredibly powerful being, with his voice causing at least 10 people to pass out when they first heard it:
“Purple Francis was originally not meant to be a character, but after Marc Laidlaw (Writer for the Half-Life series) requested that he be put into the game, the developers of Left 4 Dead put him into the game, which is regarded as Turtle Rock’s best move at the time. Purple Francis at first received negative reaction for at first looking as if he was just a recoloring of Francis. The reaction soon turned positive after he spoke for the first time. It was reported that approximately 10 people passed out at the first hearing of his voice.”
Popular conspiracy theories on the wiki suggest Purple Francis was removed from the game because he was too powerful, with his entire code being wiped after it caused major game crashes. Despite this, Purple Francis allegedly appeared in a number of Left 4 Dead crossovers, including the Metal Slug Attack collab event.
The images and pages added to the wiki reportedly originate from Twitter users @UnknownTrope and @MIJAC0GE0, with the date of Purple Francis’ strange birth being February 12, 2021. Despite the editors being identified, the pages haven’t yet been removed. It appears someone on the Left 4 Dead wiki page is a fan of Purple Francis, all his wild antics included.
He’s struck a cord with the wider fandom too, going viral on Twitter and sparking his own mini purple revolution.
While Purple Francis doesn’t actually exist in the game, he’s quickly becoming one of Left 4 Dead‘s most popular characters. With children named Johnson and Skibbity and a history that includes talking to God, it’s not hard to see why. For as long as Purple Francis remains on the Left 4 Dead wiki, he’ll be hailed as a legend. When he’s finally, inevitably removed, he’ll become a god.
Long live Purple Francis and everything he stands for. We’ll remember him long after he’s gone.
Update 2:30pm: Purple Francis creator Lucy (@MIJAC0GE0) reached out to Kotaku Australia to confirm the origins of the great man himself. According to her, he was created as an inside joke about the mystery ‘fifth survivor’ in Left 4 Dead‘s main campaign.
They say we all start with humble origins, and such as the case with Purple Francis. Here’s how it all began:
Goodspeed, you wonderful purple man.