Top Ten Video Game Characters Who Can't Seem to Catch a Break

Posted on August 18, 2012 - 12:20pm by The Windwaker


Scrolling down and viewing each number without reading the reasoning would be the quickest way to get through this article...but why would you want to do that?

Editor's Note: No breaks eh? They must work for Craig to. ;)

The title of this blog really says it all, and to be honest, this was a pretty tough list to put together in terms of who went where. However, I’m generally happy with the results. The characters on this list have lives that simply won’t allow them any breaks or down time to speak of. Their lives are always cranked up to 11. Be it a personal choice or simply bad luck, the characters on this list just can’t seem to catch a break...


PLEASE NOTE: Massive SPOILERS for games ahead.  If you see an entry on this list that happens to be a game or franchise that you have not completed fully, bare in mind that I will go into detail as to why that particular entry belongs on this list.  You have been warned!


 #10: Mario (The Mario Franchise)

All Bowser has to do is move his head up slightly...but we know he won't.  He never will...

While Mario’s escapades don’t hold a candle to the drama and life threatening scenarios found in other entries on this list that you’ll see very, very soon, it’s no doubt that this plumber just can’t seem to catch a break.

Princess Peach (who may or may not be the love of Mario’s life…at this point I’m just not sure) is kidnapped constantly by Bowser, causing Mario to traverse dangerous landscapes to retrieve her. He’s even rocketed himself into space in order to rescue Princess Peach…when both of them were supposed to be celebrating the Star Carnival.

In Super Mario Sunshine, when he and Peach are ON VACATION, Baby Bowser ends up framing Mario for the graffiti covering Isle Delfino, which lands Mario in jail the very first night that he’s supposed to be ON VACATION. He’s then forced to clean up the entirety of the island while attempting to rescue Peach who is captured almost immediately.

Mario is always doing his best to keep the Mushroom Kingdom safe and protect Princess Peach, and when he does get some down time, his friends treat him to sports which they are way too competitive at. Any attempt at playing a friendly game of tennis or soccer is thwarted when Mario’s greatest rivals join in, making it an all out competition to see who’s the best. Mario is the hero who can never catch a break and whose princess is always in another castle.


#9: Master Chief (The Halo Franchise)

Jumping - a viable tactic for escaping The Flood who have learned to utilize weaponry... 

Master Chief was kidnapped as a child and put through intense physical and psychological training at an extremely young age. Eventually, he was experimented on; augmented to become the perfect soldier. I could stop right there if I wanted, but let’s delve a bit deeper. In the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, Master Chief awakens from cryogenic sleep to witness a Covenant attack on the ship which leads him to board an escape pod. After realizing that he is the sole survivor of his pod to land on Halo, Master Chief must rescue survivors, deal with the Covenant and face a new threat known as The Flood. He is tricked into almost activating Halo which would have destroyed all sentient life within a large radius (starving The Flood to death) and single handedly destroys the first Halo.

After Master Chief returns to Earth and receives an award for his efforts on the first Halo, the Covenant make an unexpected appearance, forcing the Spartan to fend off the invasion. After going to Earth to fight off the Covenant, Master Chief arrives on yet another Halo. He kills the high Prophet of Regret before being captured by the intelligent, Flood-like being known as the Gravemind, and finally ends the game by boarding a Forerunner ship to “Finish the Fight”.

Many events go down in Halo 3 (so many that I don’t wish to chronicle all of them here) but among them, Master Chief fights off Brutes as well as The Flood and navigates Halo in a warthog as it’s being torn apart. In the end, he and Cortana are left floating in a severed ship in deep space. Cortana sends a distress signal which may take years for someone to find, and Master Chief goes back into cryogenic sleep…

Only to be woken up for the events of Halo 4, 5 and 6. The fact that Master Chief’s story isn’t over certainly allows him a spot on this list, and for those of you thinking, “Well…he was in cryogenic sleep, right? Does that not count as a bit of down time?” To that, I answer, “No,” because he is basically in stasis. Imagine that you fall asleep and are only woken up when the **** hits the fan. That’s what Master Chief does…and it doesn’t sound fun.


#8: Batman (Batman: Arkham City)

Batman ruins yet another child's birthday party...

We all know Bruce Wayne’s back story, so I don’t think that I have to go into too much detail here. Needless to say, he hit rock bottom pretty fast after his parents were murdered, only to rise again as Batman, but in Arkham Asylum the Dark Knight puts himself through some pretty intense situations. By the end of the game, his cape is torn and he’s genuinely tired. He had faced some of Gotham’s fiercest criminals in one night, so it’s reasonable to assume that this hero needed some rest before his next adventure.

But it was Arkham City where Batman truly shows how difficult being the Caped Crusader really is. Within seconds of the game starting up, Bruce Wayne is placed in Arkham City’s walls and left to fend for himself without his signature gear. Of course, he’s a capable fighter without his equipment, but when he finally dons the famous suit, Batman immediately gets to work. Throughout the game, he rescues numerous citizens, fights off bands of thugs who constantly utilize different weapons and armor to keep him on edge, and must deal with Gotham’s worst criminals. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange concocts numerous plans to make Batman’s life absolutely miserable within the walls of Arkham.

The Joker, who’s dying due to the Titan he abused in the Asylum, eventually infects Batman with his blood, forcing him to find a cure to save them both before the fast acting disease kills them on the spot. This forces Batman to confront his greatest enemies like Mr. Freeze and the Penguin in order to survive. There’s even a moment in this game where Batman seems to be down for the count after being legitimately overwhelmed…which is somewhat rare for the Dark Knight. He’s eventually saved by Catwoman, but due to the disease he carries for the majority of the game, Batman shows a lot of weakness in the sequel to Arkham Asylum. He just can’t seem to catch a break in this game…


#7: Chell (The Portal Franchise)

"I think we can put our differences behind us, for monster..."

Chell’s history is relatively unknown, but from both Portal and Portal 2, we can deduce that she might have been the daughter of an Aperture scientist. She is known for being terribly stubborn; never giving up and always accepting a challenge. She was also forced into becoming a test subject by Doug Rattmann, the last survivor of the facility after it was taken over by GLaDoS. Chell was originally rejected as a candidate for testing due to her personality, but Rattmann deduced that her stubbornness was perfect for defeating GLaDoS. He hacked the system to make her Test Subject #1. Talk about bad luck…

In the first game, Chell is forced to go through mentally taxing experiments in a rather strange atmosphere. She’s almost killed numerous times and GLaDoS attempts to murder her using various means of weaponry. Fortunately, Chell destroys GLaDoS, but is dragged back into Aperture by a Party Escort Bot and placed into stasis for (possibly) thousands of years. When she wakes up, Chell must reclaim the portal gun and confront GLaDoS…AGAIN. However, Chell is also betrayed by a Personality Core named Wheatley, who gains control over the facility and nearly destroys it along with Chell and GLaDoS, who is now a potato…

Chell destroys him and gives power back to GLaDoS who allows her to leave Aperture. However, though the ending is sweet and almost heartfelt…Chell is now in the middle of nowhere. Now, she has to find her way back to civilization. Chell just can’t seem to catch a break…even after her games are over.


#6: Gordon Freeman (The Half-Life Franchise)

"Welcome to Ravenholm, where trying NOT to wake up on fire can be quite the challenge!"

Dr. Freeman lived a pretty decent life up until an experiment that he was a part of resulted in a Resonance Cascade, causing the planet to become connected to Xen (an alien planet) through interdimensional portals. Throughout the entirety of the first Half-Life, Gordon is hunted by both aliens and the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit (HECU). Gordon has little to no combat experience whatsoever, forcing him to improvise ways to stay alive. Nearly every room within Black Mesa (his area of work) is a death trap. After being pursued by a helicopter touting machine guns, stalked by a shark-like creature and ambushed multiple times by the HECU, Gordon agrees to be transported to Xen in order to destroy the “leader” of the aliens. Although he succeeds, a strangely familiar man, dubbed “G-Man” appears. He tells Gordon that he can either work with him and his strange employers or be left on Xen with no equipment and surrounded by hostile aliens…

Gordon accepts G-Man's first offer, which brings us to Half-Life 2.  However, Gordon is not immediately placed back into the world. Instead, G-Man kept him in a stasis-like state away from time itself for over two decades. Think about that. After everything you’ve done, you’re warped to the future to an unknown location by a man who may or may not be controlling your destiny. Gordon ends up joining a resistance movement against the Combine, a species that has invaded Earth and enslaved its residents. He travels through many hostile areas including Ravenholm, which is a headcrab infested town that was abandoned long ago. Eventually, Dr. Freeman causes such a stir among the other resistance members that he is designated “Anticitizen One”; a primary target for the entire Combine army. Freeman is able to destroy the City 17 Citadel by obliterating its dark fusion reactor before being put in a stasis like state once more by G-Man.

Episode 1 follows Gordon and Alyx as they attempt to get out of the Citadel’s blast radius which would destroy all of City 17, while Episode 2 focuses on the aftermath of the explosion which Gordon and Alyx barely survived. In Episode 2, Gordon and Alyx observe a Superportal (yes, it is indeed one word) that could cause another Combine invasion. After traveling long distances to get to the lab where Alyx’s father and other scientists are preparing a shuttle to launch into the Superportal to destroy it, Gordon must defend the laboratory (almost singlehandedly, mind you) from Combine Striders. Although successful in destroying the Striders as well as the Superportal, Gordon witnesses the death of Alyx’s father…and as of right now, that’s where Gordon’s life is…and it kinda sucks.


#5: Isaac (The Dead Space Franchise)

For just a moment, Isaac hesitates and wonders what life would be like with a Necromorph's awesome knife hands...

Isaac’s early life wasn’t exactly a walk in the park as his family struggled with financial problems. However, it’s when his crew is contacted by the USG Ishimura mining space station that Isaac simply can’t catch a break. After a crash landing into the station, Isaac and a few other crew members seek out Ishimura’s crew. Not only is the place absolutely destroyed, the station is filled with strange, zombie-like beings called Necromorphs that attempt to kill off anyone still alive in the most grisly way possible. Isaac is sent on numerous errands around the station, attempting to send other distress signals and find supplies in order for the remaining crew members to survive. Even when Isaac is able to send out a distress signal, a Necromorph destroys the hailed ship which crashes into the Ishimura. Whenever Isaac does receive help, it’s from his estranged girlfriend, Nicole, who he can never seem to reach.

Isaac soon learns of the Red Marker, a certain relic that turns dead people into Necromorphs. He’s told that returning it to its home planet Aegis VII will stop the Necromorph infestation. As he attempts to do this, the last remaining member of his original crew, Kendra Daniels, betrays him and leaves him for dead on the Ishimura in order to bring the Marker to her employers. Isaac manages to stop her with the help of Nicole, who helps him set foot on Aegis VII. After attempting to return the Marker to its rightful pedestal, Kendra returns and reveals some rather disturbing information. She claims that Isaac is insane, and proves it by showing him a tape of Nicole committing suicide in order to save herself from being slaughtered by the Necromorphs. Heartbroken, Isaac continues his mission and destroys the “hive mind” of the planet before escaping. Isaac sends out a distress signal and…

Three years later, Isaac has been placed in an insane asylum; diagnosed with dementia, post traumatic stress disorder and amnesia. The events of Dead Space 2 are just as gruesome as those found in the first game. Isaac gets no rest and is subjected to different types of Necromorphs, and the dreaded NoonTech Diagnostic Machine which still makes me cringe…in fact, if you don’t know what that is, then read this...I was originally going to subject you to the video...but it''s too...*shivers*:

*Shivers*…anyway…Isaac definitely deserves to be on this list, and his adventure isn’t over as Dead Space 3 ensures that he’ll have no time to rest.


#4: Nathan Drake (The Uncharted Franchise)

Believe it or not, this is actually a pretty typical day in the life of Nathan Drake...

Let’s take a brief look at Mr. Drake’s history. His mother committed suicide when he was five years old and his father relinquished custody of him to the state. He was raised by nuns and spent most of his teenage life on the streets under the name Nathan Drake (which isn’t believed to be his actual name…but we’ll get to that in a minute). Nathan is a criminal/treasure hunter. He makes new enemies regularly due to his thievery and poor choices. This leads him to take jobs with a number of shady characters who betray him fairly quickly. In Uncharted: Golden Abyss, he is betrayed by Dante who causes much trouble for our acrobatic hero later on. Harry Flynn also betrays Drake in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and even attempts to kill him on multiple occasions.

Furthermore, it seems that Nathan always finds himself in perilous situations that could end in his untimely death. He’s almost always being shot at, constantly hangs from tall structures and is forced to make almost suicidal jumps. Drake has traversed a moving train, been attacked by all manner of creatures, navigated a sinking cruise liner, been stranded in a blizzard and even hung out of a cargo plane which later exploded, causing him to be abandoned in the Rubal Khali Desert for days without food or water. He’s always in perilous situations, and just when there’s time for him to relax…something else happens that forces him to take cover and shoot back.

Finally, Nathan might be insane. This was hinted at heavily in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception as Nathan constantly pursued his adversaries even after numerous near death experiences that put him and his friends in danger. It also explains why Drake has trouble with his relationship with Elena. She leaves him after both Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves…even after both of their happy endings. Furthermore, it could also explain why he changed his name. Now, changing your name doesn’t necessarily make you insane, but thinking that you need to live up to your ancestor who’s really not your ancestor is a bit weird to be sure. Nathan lives a life full of peril and danger around nearly every corner…making him an ideal character for this list.


#3: Kratos (The God of War Franchise)

Yes...Kratos actually defeats this guy.  Yeah, I don't know how he did it either...

Kratos was trained as a killing machine at a young age when he was separated from his brother by Ares and Athena due to a prophecy saying that a “Marked Warrior” would spell the end for the Olympians. Deimos (Kratos’ brother) had a scar across his body that the gods believed to be “The Mark” spoken of in the prophecy. In honor of his lost brother, Kratos had a tattoo adorned across his chest and face similar to that of his brother’s scar.

After becoming a Captain in the Spartan army, Kratos lead his soldiers to battle with brutal and effective tactics. His hunger for war increased with each battle, separating him from his wife and daughter who had trouble dealing with his madness. But the battle with the Barbarians was different. Kratos’ army was vastly outnumbered, and just when he was about to fall at the hands of the Barbarian leader, Kratos called out to Ares to guarantee him victory. In return for helping him defeat the barbarians, Ares (the god of war) commanded Kratos to lead a brutal campaign throughout Greece, killing anyone who did not recognize Ares as the mightiest of gods.

In a fit of blind rage, Kratos is tricked by Ares into killing both his wife and daughter. The village oracle then marks Kratos with their ashes, making him known as “The Ghost of Sparta”. After experiencing nightmares that nearly drove him to the brink of madness, Kratos began sailing the Aegean Sea before pledging himself to the other gods that they might rid him of his nightmares. He served the gods for ten years. During this time, he saved Olympus from Persephone and Atlas and destroyed the Hydra. He braved the perils of Pandora’s Temple and killed Ares after the god of war had betrayed Olympus and wreaked havoc on Earth. And though Kratos became the replacement God of War, his victory was short lived as his brother, Deimos, was killed by Thanatos, the Greek god of death.

Enter God of War II, where Kratos seeks revenge on the gods after they betray him. He seeks out the Sisters of Fate (and ends up killing them) in order to rewind the clock and change history. And while Zeus (who was responsible for draining all of Kratos’ godly power from him) escapes, Kratos brings the Titans to his time in order to fight off the gods of Olympus. God of War III sees Kratos killing every god of Olympus including Zeus. And as the world crumbles due to its lack of order originally provided by the gods, Kratos kills himself…

Wow…yeah, he belongs on this list for sure…   


#2: Wander (Shadow of the Colossus)

 This particular bird didn't even feel the arrow to the knee...

I love this particular entry…because it’s so obvious. The main character from the masterpiece known as Shadow of the Colossus (who most people call Wander) is no doubt one of the most unlucky characters in any video game. At the very beginning of the game, he is forced to travel long distances in order to save the woman he loves who has been locked in an eternal sleep (…she’s dead…). He enters a forbidden land only accessible by a giant stone bridge that extends hundreds of feet above the valley below. After entering a temple and placing the woman on the altar, Wander is greeted by a mysterious spirit named Dormin who promises to resurrect his love in exchange for the death of sixteen beasts known as Colossi who are scattered across the forbidden land. Wander accepts this task and goes off to kill each Colossus.

As you play the game, you begin to notice a few things about each Colossus that you’re facing. They seem to be relatively indifferent to your presence at first…that is until you get too close or simply attack them without warning. After killing each beast, you feel strange. It seems as if there’s no rhyme or reason to your annihilation of this grand species. Furthermore, Wander becomes beaten and bruised as he takes down each Colossus. He shows actual signs of exhaustion and even corruption. Even worse, you discover that he was forced to steal an ancient sword from his village in order to perform these terrible acts. This has caused the leader of the village as well as many soldiers to tail you to this forbidden land. When they arrive however, it’s too late.

By destroying each Colossus, Wander has essentially wiped out an entire race of creatures. He has also freed an evil spirit named Dormin from his prison after he was sealed away by the village elders long ago. Dormin begins to possess Wander’s body as the soldiers attempt to kill him. These particular scenes are simply heartbreaking as Wander reaches out to his love who still remains motionless on the altar. He is fully corrupted by Dormin, turning him into a giant shadow beast who begins destroying the temple. The leader of the village escapes and creates a portal using the ancient sword to ultimately destroy Dormin. As the shadows are sucked from Wander’s body, he is pulled into the portal while still attempting to reach his love. And though this story has a somewhat happy ending (if you think about it…) everything that Wander has to go through in this game is awful, and the poor guy just can’t seem to catch a break.


#1: Solid Snake (The Metal Gear Franchise)

"Snake, you know how you saved the world a few times already?  Can you do it one more time as an old guy?"

Snake is no doubt one of gaming’s greatest heroes. Yet, this comes at a terrible price. Solid Snake (originally named David) was raised by foster parents and became a Green Beret as a teenager. He joined his father’s unit FOXHOUND and was taught everything about being a special operations soldier, including how to use appliances in the field and withstand torture. Let’s stop right there. This man, at a fairly young age, was taught to withstand torture…think how grueling that must have been. But let’s continue.

His first mission had him not only rescuing many hostages including Gray Fox, but destroying TX-55 Metal Gear and dispatching the leader of his unit, Big Boss, after he betrays FOXHOUND. Snake is successful in his first mission, but decides to enter early retirement. His dreams of a normal life are short-lived when the CIA attempts to recruit him. After a few months, he leaves them to become a mercenary for hire in order to raise enough money to retire…again. And when he finally does receive a few moments of peace and quiet, he suffers from nightmares and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

He’s then called in by Roy Campbell (the new leader of FOXHOUND) to take out another version of Metal Gear and rescue Dr. Kio Marv. After defeating both Gray Fox and Big Boss who were working together to create Metal Gear D (which Snake also destroyed), Snake attempted to disappear into Alaska to secretly retire again…again…

Of course, this is where the Metal Gear Solid franchise begins, and needless to say, Snake’s life doesn’t get any easier from then on out. He’s forced to take down his old unit, FOXHOUND, on Shadow Moses Island and destroy Metal Gear REX which he is tricked into powering up. Snake also finds out that he is a clone of Big Boss and his brother, Liquid Snake, is the leader of FOXHOUND on Shadow Moses. Let’s stop once more. Imagine being told that you’re a clone. Really think about it. You were never normal and were engineered to have all of the traits that you have received. Moving on…

Snake kills Liquid (his brother) and learns that he was given an agent known as FOXDIE that was intended to kill every member of FOXHOUND including a few loose ends such as Kenneth Baker, who initiated development on Metal Gear REX and “knew too much”. What’s worse, FOXDIE was modified by Naomi Hunter to kill Snake as well, due to him being responsible for Gray Fox’s death in the original Metal Gear franchise. However, a wildcard value was placed in the virus, meaning that it would kill him at an unspecified time in the future. That sucks…

Snake also gets wrapped up in the Big Shell incident, where Metal Gear Ray becomes the newest subterranean model of the nuclear warhead launching death machine, and Snake must constantly assist Raiden throughout his mission. Not only that, but his brother, Liquid, lives on through Revolver Ocelot who has used Liquid’s arm to replace the one that had been cut off by the Cyborg Ninja (Gray Fox…yeah, he’s not dead) in Metal Gear Solid. Ocelot slowly succumbs to Liquid throughout the course of Metal Gear Solid 2. Though, it’s Metal Gear Solid 4, Snake’s final mission, which proves his devotion to his country as well as his unflinching fortitude. After suffering from rapid aging (akin to Werner’s Syndrome) Snake has become old and somewhat fragile. However, he’s called in one last time to assassinate Liquid Ocelot.

Later in his mission, Snake is informed that the FOXDIE within him has mutated as a result of his fast aging body, which was caused by the way he was designed as a clone. Furthermore, the mutations of FOXDIE will eventually cause it to lose its ability to target specific DNA patterns. Therefore, anyone near Snake will become infected and killed. Snake is told that he has six months before all of this starts. After losing his surrogate mother, EVA, to FOXDIE, Snake must continue his mission where he eventually must crawl through a microwave corridor that nearly kills him before he faces his “brother” one last time in hand to hand combat. FOXDIE eventually kills Liquid Ocelot as well. In the end, Snake attempts to kill himself in order to prevent FOXDIE from spreading.

So…hard life? Definitely…and though everything ends well (play the games or ruin it all and check the Metal Gear wiki…seriously, it all ends well) and I kind of focused on the worst parts of Solid Snake’s life, it’s obvious that he definitely belongs at #1 on this list.


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