15 Most Offensive Gaming Characters Ever –
Though the advent of social media has proven above all else just how easily outraged people can be, sometimes the offense stems from something genuinely troubling, and in the case of video games, this is often a character who is racist, sexist or so staggeringly annoying that they almost ruin the rest of the game.
From female characters who are more boob than person to dubious ethnic portrayals, gimped sports icons and unpleasant retcons of iconic characters, these 15 portrayals all led to their fair share of righteous outrage, which the games themselves, whether new or decades old, have been unable to live down.
Sometimes the offense is intentional and sometimes it’s produced through sheer laziness or inattention, but the end result is the same: a Twitter feed full of white-hot rage.
15. Ivy Valentine (Soulcalibur)
The Character: The preposterously-attired illegitimate daughter of Cervantes de Leon, and notoriously one of the most challenging characters to master in the entire Soul series. Why
They’re Offensive: Though Ivy is one of the franchise’s most powerful and intimidating fighters, her stature as a strong woman is undermined somewhat by Namco’s insistence that she wear increasingly preposterous, skimpy clothing with each passing installment. It goes beyond merely presenting a physically attractive character to pandering far too much to horny teenagers, and in terms of sheer logic, the costume doesn’t even make any sense for a fighter like Ivy.
Yes, she’s still a great combatant, but she’s massively compromised by how cynically she tries to sell the game “because boobs”. She may not be the only character in the series that’s rampantly objectified (just look at Taki), but she’s certainly the most egregious.
14. Ashley Graham (Resident Evil 4)
The Character: The daughter of the President of the United States, who Leon S. Kennedy is tasked with rescuing after she is kidnapped and help captive by members of Los Iluminados.
Why They’re Offensive: Because she’s a classically annoying, retrograde damsel-in-distress without any agency of her own. Escort missions are annoying at the best of times, but when you’re lumped with an inept shrew who can’t do anything to defend herself, and you’re stuck with her for a large chunk of the game’s play-time, it’s hard not to get a little upset. It’s massively frustrating that Capcom didn’t make her even slightly more capable.
Sure, she can be very occasionally handy for navigating parts of the level Leon can’t reach, but how about putting a gun in her hand every now and then and actually letting her do something significant? And to top it all off, she offers herself up to Leon as a prize at the end of the game, because of course (though Leon, ever the gentleman, actually refuses).
13. Barret Wallace (Final Fantasy VII)
The Character: The first black character in the Final Fantasy series, Cloud’s iconic eco-terrorist sidekick is a physical force to be reckoned with, kitted out with a Gatling gun for an arm and dedicated to protecting his adopted daughter Marlene at all costs.
Why They’re Offensive: Barret may be a badass, but he’s also a painfully blatant black stereotype, something Japanese games as a whole tend to struggle with. With his brutish attitude, profane manner of speech, perceived lack of intelligence, ghetto-based origin and thuggish appearance (complete with gaudy tattoos), he’s a walking representation of everything racists like to believe about black people.
It’s arguable that this is offset somewhat by his heroic qualities and evident love for Marlene, but even so, he’s an over-the-top caricature and one that could so easily have been toned down at least a tad.
12. Raiden (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty)
The Character: The surprise protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2, the fair-haired, effeminate Raiden is sent to the Big Shell in order to stop the Sons of Liberty, who have taken control of the facility.
Why They’re Offensive: Because fans bought MGS2 expecting another awesome adventure playing as Solid Snake (he is on the front cover, after all), but once the 90-minute tanker prologue is out of the way, Snake is replaced with this lame substitute. Almost everything Snake is, Raiden is not: Raiden is irritating, whiny-voiced and simply a dull cipher of a character.
That Hideo Kojima made players sit through almost an entire game as him while keeping Snake on the sidelines was always going to make him a figure of hate for the series’ fans. Sure, he’s redeemed slightly by his ninja transformation in MGS4, but gamers the world over were rightly disgusted that Kojima thought such a bait-and-switch with their money was at all acceptable.
11. Sheva Alomar (Resident Evil 5)
The Character: Chris Redfield’s colleague in the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, Sheva is the player’s sidekick character as introduced via RE5’s new co-operative gameplay mechanics.
Why They’re Offensive: When RE5 was first unveiled at E3 2007, there was much controversy regarding the depictions of black people as blood-thirsty maniacs, and accusations that the portrayals were racist. Capcom clearly took this to heart, as when a second trailer was revealed almost a year later, the racial dynamic of the enemies had been altered, and the previously unannounced Sheva, a mixed-race woman, was introduced as a sidekick.
This is a hilariously transparent example of video game tokenism, as it’s likely she never would’ve been introduced if not for the severe backlash. Would Sheva originally have been white if she even existed at all? It’s very very likely. Then there’s the added irritation that Sheva’s also a crushing example of terrible NPC AI: she always hoovers up the ammo and health items before you can get a look in. Scumbag Sheva…
10. Brock Lesnar (WWE 2K15)
The Character: Without question legitimately the toughest wrestler in the WWE, the unstoppable Beast who, of course, did the impossible and ended The Undertaker’s undefeated WrestleMania streak.
Why They’re Offensive: Because on the previous-gen and current-gen versions of WWE 2K15 respectively, Lesnar has an overall ranking of 92 and 94. On the PS3/360 version, this meant that he was ranked below the likes of Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus (!) and The Undertaker, while on the tweaked current-gen version, he’s still on-par with D-Bry and The Undertaker, while ranked two points less than John Cena.
Given that Brock has proven himself to be a major force to be reckoned with and has beaten the likes of Taker and Cena incredibly decisively in the past, it seems pretty absurd that his dominant qualities have been downplayed, especially in the last-gen version. As a wrestling fan, it’s pretty disgusting stuff, considering that Lesnar is well-established to be the most unstoppable force in the history of the WWE. How he has anything less than a 97 is just shocking, and a major stats faux pas.
9. Rikku (Final Fantasy X)
The Character: Yuna’s perky Al Bhed cousin, Rikku, a thief who gives Tidus a helping hand when he first arrives in Spira, and then join Yuna as one of her guardians on her pilgrimage to destroy Sin.
Why They’re Offensive: Rikku is 15 years old at the time of FFX, by the way, an uncomfortable realisation that’s not immediately clear considering how overly sexualised she is throughout the game. Frequently kitted out in a skimpy bikini top and visible G-string, it’s wildly inappropriate given her age. While it’s important to remember that the age of consent in Japan is just 13, it’s still likely to be seen as incredibly icky to most western players. Video games already have enough of a problem with leering at fully-grown women, but now children as well? Jeez…
8. Roman Bellic (Grand Theft Auto IV)
The Character: Protagonist Nico’s older cousin Roman, who lures Nico to the U.S. with the promise of fortune, success and beautiful women…only for the reality to be a crummy apartment, a stack of debt and a dull dayjob.
Why They’re Offensive: Even ignoring the massive asshole factor that comes with manipulating someone into moving countries, Roman is an assault on the eyes and ears every time his presence is felt. He becomes a frequent burden throughout the game when you’re conducting missions, begging you to come play bowling with him, such that Roman’s behaviour has even become a popular Internet meme.
As a result, be totally honest with yourself: if you got the ending where Roman was assassinated, you felt absolutely nothing. Nothing but joy, anyway. He’s the epitome of an annoying video game sidekick, and a pretty painful immigrant stereotype all at once.
7. Natalya Simonova (Goldeneye 007)
The Character: A computer programmer who James Bond needs to help shut down the Goldeneye satellite, played by the sexy Izabella Scorupco in the 1995 movie…and played by a block of misbehaving computer code in the 1997 video game adaptation.
Why They’re Offensive: As fantastic as Goldeneye is (though it’s certainly aged badly), Natalya is yet another infuriatingly inept escort character whose lack of regard for her own well-being almost borders on suicidal. Everyone’s least-favourite mission in the game is Control, in which Bond has to protect Natalya from a fleet of guards while she works on shutting down the satellite.
However, Natalya will deliberately run into enemy gunfire and basically show no enthusiasm for staying alive, such that you’re likely to fail the mission again and again and again before finally succeeding through pure luck. Terrible NPC AI is one thing, but would it really have been much of a hardship to program some duck and cover routines for her, or better yet, just give her a damn gun?
Instead, she’s the worst type of escort character: dumb, useless and actively working against the player. In a time where gaming could’ve done with some more resourceful female characters, Natalya fell agonisingly short of the mark, and gamers sure as hell noticed.
6. Samus Aran (Metroid: Other M)
The Character: One of the most iconic heroines in the history of the video game medium, Samus is a steely, no-nonsense galactic bounty hunter. but beneath that awesome exoskeleton suit, she’s also a figure of beauty. What’s not to like?
Why They’re Offensive: Samus’ characteristion was sadly dealt a huge blow in the prequel game Other M, where a younger Samus is shown to be emotionally unstable, immature and constantly looking to her male superior for authorization. Abandoning the stiff-upper-lip toughness of her previous portrayal, here Samus is a whiner and erratic, far from the grizzled bada** of previous games.
It’s proof enough that some silent protagonists should just stay silent, especially when their voice is this annoying. What could have been a novel way to develop Samus more as a character ultimately turned out to be a huge insult to fans.
5. Lamar Davis (Grand Theft Auto V)
The Character: Protagonist Franklin’s best buddy, a drug-dealing gang-banger, is one of the most outrageous characters in GTA V, an aloof if amusing moron whose greed and idiocy frequently lands him in trouble that Franklin has to try and dig him out of.
Why They’re Offensive: You could write an essay on the ridiculous number of black American stereotypes that Lamar adheres to, but there’s one aspect of his character that’s especially offensive: that damn potty mouth of his. It’s not too surprising that the “n-word” is regularly dropped throughout the game, though it’s arguable that Rockstar went a little overboard with its use where it felt like it was being employed for shock’s sake above all else.
Lamar is the main culprit: he uses the word in conversation incredibly frequently to the point where it’s actually pretty exhausting. At the same time, though, you know what you’re getting with a GTA game, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear this sort of dialogue being spouted constantly, a little OTT though it seems. Cultural biases will of course apply: if you went to a school where there was just one black kid, you’re more liable to struggle with it, whereas if you grew up in the hood, it will be par for the course.
4. Princess Peach (Any Mario Game Ever)
The Character: The quintessential video game damsel-in-distress, Peach has been rescued by Mario more times than most people have had hot showers, an adorable, well-groomed woman who always seems to be in another damn castle…
Why They’re Offensive: She’s the prototypical example of the “female as a trophy” trope, a prize for the man after he’s done all the hard work, while Peach has helplessly chilled out in Bowser’s castle awaiting rescue. Then there’s her annoyingly shrill voice and her overtly “feminine” appearance, which while appealing to young girls, is just kinda patronising once those girls make it out of childhood.
In fairness, Peach is shown to have some agency of her own in games like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart, but she’s still pretty much a blank slate of a character, a cute but gormless dope who isn’t remotely as interesting as Mario’s countless rescues appear to suggest.
3. Navi (The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time)
The Character: Navi is Zelda’s fairy guide, instructed by the Great Deku Tree to help him stop Ganondorf, providing assistance by way of hints and helping the player acclimate to various new gameplay mechanics.
Why They’re Offensive: Navi is pretty much the single skidmark on an otherwise un-soiled game. Why Nintendo decided to hire a voice actor to portray the most annoying and grating character in the entire series is anyone’s guess: her constant utterances of “Hey!” and “Listen!” have infuriated an entire generation, and make her seem more like an irritating nag than a helper.
How did the devs not realise how impossibly, eye-twitchingly annoying she was? She’s an unsavoury female stereotype, and the mere fact that she needs to exist in this form is plenty offensive in of itself.
2. Quiet (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain)
The Character: The expert sniper who joins Venom Snake’s outfit during the game, a sexy but deeply troubled mute woman who is absolutely invaluable on the battlefield.
Why They’re Offensive: As a soldier, Quiet is an excellent character and arguably one of the series’ most interesting, but Hideo Kojima’s decision to kit her out in a skimpy bikini has rightly been met with criticism. It doesn’t serve any tangible purpose beyond fan service and pandering to sex-starved teenagers, while most adults playing the game are likely left embarrassed and a little ashamed by it. Kojima claimed that the reason for Quiet’s exposure would “make you feel ashamed for your words and deeds”, but as it turned out, the explanation was a hilariously flimsy plot excuse (she drinks through her skin, so apparently needs it exposed…yet The End had the same power and didn’t need to…thank God) to get her boobs out and nothing more.
Aren’t we as gamers and creators past this kind of nonsense by now? Lads’ mags and porn websites exist for a reason, but this gratuitous objectification just sullies an otherwise fascinating character. Some might argue that the MGS series has always had gratuitous nudity, both male and female, but it’s worth remembering that the likes of Johnny Sasaki and Raiden were not sexualised in the same way: Kojima didn’t leer and zoom in on their curves. Here the tone isn’t remotely comical: it’s meant to titillate. And no, before someone comments that Kojima is making a post-modern statement on how video games treat women, that’s just bulls***.
1. The Dog (Duck Hunt)
The Character: That damn dog who laughs at the player if they don’t shoot all the ducks on the screen.
Why They’re Offensive: Aggravating enough that he actually makes the game a chore to play. the laughing dog’s smug mockery of the player’s ineptitude is grating largely because of the noise that accompanies his head-bobbing laugh, and also because the player is unable to just shoot the damn dog. It’s pretty much video game trolling in one of its earliest forms and will activate a Pavlovian rage response any time a player hears it. The dog is so infamous that College Humour even came out with this hilarious video depicting its cathartic demise.
If that noise doesn’t turn you into a twitching wreck after more than a few minutes of play, then you’re probably not human. It’s offensive in every way that something can be: ugly, infuriating and a black mark on an otherwise awesome game. Which video game characters have aggravated and offended you the most over the years? Shout them out in the comments!
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