5 most disliked video game protagonists
Protagonists are meant to be liked. These are the characters viewer can associate with and are the primary agents through which they are subject to the story being laid out. It is crucial, then, for a protagonist to be relatable or, at the very least, interesting and complex.
And video games are no exception. A well-written protagonist can make or break a story. As such, in any narrative element, a good protagonist is essential to its success. And yet, sometimes, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
At times, a video protagonist just doesn’t pass the vibe check. The target audience simply cannot feel any love or remorse for the character. Whether that is simply because of lousy writing, unfortunate circumstances, or just pure player bias, here are five video game protagonists who failed to be liked.
Video game protagonists who failed to catch on
1) Trevor - GTA 5
The Grand Theft Auto series has always been known for its interestingly complex protagonists. Generally toeing the line between good and evil, characters like CJ, Tommy Vercetti, and Niko Bellic have always made players feel like amicable gangsters looking out for themselves.
This all changed when GTA 5 dropped with three playable characters, one of whom was Trevor Philips. It is safe to say that Trevor is the least likable of the three protagonists.
This is evident whenever users switch from another character to Trevor, as more often than not, he can be seen committing various socially unacceptable acts. These include, but are not limited to, indecent exposure, throwing a random man off a bridge, and beating up innocent bystanders.
If all that wasn’t enough, in a story mission as Trevor, gamers have to lure an innocent couple away from civilization and deliver them to a cult of possible cannibals. Needless to say, he was not missed after the ending of GTA 5.
The fact the Trevor can commit such questionable acts of hideous nature without showing any remorse makes him a very hard to like character. As a protagonist, such acts work to distance him from players instead of making him relatable.
2) Raiden - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of liberty
Raiden is actually a sad story, as it was no fault of the character why fans didn't like him in his debut appearance. After the success of the first Metal Gear game and its protagonist, fans were eager for more, and Konami fueled these expectations.
A demo for the title was released, showing off a level where players could embody the form of Solid Snake once again in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
However, once the game dropped, it became evident that after the first few stages, Solid Snake was replaced by the new character Raiden as the protagonist for the rest of the game. Users were outraged by this change and were quite vocal with their complaints.
Such was the dislike for the character that Konami itself took to making fun of him in later games, going so far as to turn him into a cyborg with only his head and upper jaw resembling his original design.
3) Duke Nukem - Duke Nukem Forever
About two decades ago, the Duke Nukem series was a much-loved genre of video games. The gameplay was par for the course for its time, and Duke himself embodied masculinity most gamers enjoyed playing during the early 90s.
However, times have changed since then, and the games have evolved to fit the modern age.
But that could not be said of the Duke Nukem series. The fourth game, Duke Nukem Forever, released in 2011, ironically signaled the franchise’s end. The game itself had a ton of problems during development, sure. But one of the contributing factors was that the eponymous protagonist was nigh unlikable in this outing.
Duke Nukem was now seen as an overgrown teenager with hormonal issues whose quips and humor didn’t land or relate to any significant audience. When every other line from a character is a joke about a body part or something expelled from said body part, there is little left in the form of likability in their presentation.
4) Abby - The Last of Us Part 2
If Raiden’s reason for dislike was sad, then Abby’s is just pure tragedy. Introduced in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part 2, she was a character purely conceived as a karmic balance to Joel’s action from the last game. And indeed, she delivers said karma quite early on as she kills Joel near the beginning of the game.
Players who had played through the previous game were understandably distraught with this course of action and were sure Ellie would avenge Joel.
However, a surprise was just around the corner as, halfway through the game, users were literally thrust into Abby’s shoes as she took over as the primary protagonist.
While the overarching intent of the developers was to show the toxic nature of the cycle of revenge and its repercussions, even they couldn’t have foreseen the hate the character of Abby (and even the voice actress) would receive. Many were furious that Ellie eventually didn’t kill her, ultimately missing the entire point the game was trying to make.
The fact that in the players' first encounter with Abby she brutally kills off one of the favourite characters of the series works to make her quite unlikable. Mang players could not get over this initial rage and considered Abby an unpardonable criminal, who deserved to be shown no mercy, just as she hadn't shown any to Joel.
5) The Prince - Prince of Persia (2008)
Reboots are always tricky, and this one had an awful run. Gamers loved the Prince of Persia series that ran from 2003 to 2005 (itself a reboot) due to its addictive gameplay, interesting protagonist, and time loop powers before they became a thing.
But once the series ended, Ubisoft Montreal decided it was time for another reboot and tried its luck. But they had sorely underestimated how attached the fans had gotten to the previous series.
In the new game, the protagonist, while being called a prince, resembled in no way the gruff and serious redemption hero from the previous games. Instead, they got a cool, suave womanizer with red hair and no dagger of time. This character failed to resonate with the fans.
While the title itself was OK and, at times, even fun, it was just too different from the previous entries to rope users in. ‘The Prince’ also didn’t feel as exciting or complex for them to invest in his story, which led to the game performing low enough that Ubisoft decided on a course correction.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s opinions.