6 most hated video game protagonists (that are actually misunderstood)

These guys aren
These guys aren't so bad (Image via Sportskeeda)

Video games are not very different from stories. If it doesn't have a protagonist people can relate to, it's going to be a challenge to follow. Think Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street or Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye. These are characters hard to like, but the story revolves around them.

Sometimes, a protagonist can rub the audience the wrong way, yet be completely misunderstood, especially in games, where the viewer/reader/player is required to inhabit the character more so than in most other media.

Who are some of the most hated video game protagonists?

Not every gaming hero can be Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, or Solid Snake (as we'll see shortly.) Not every unpopular protagonist is hated for the same reasons. Sure, some are unlikeable but others are sometimes poorly designed in the eyes of video game fans, not what players were expecting, or simply in a bad game.

So, we've come up with a list of six video game protagonists that players - at least at first - didn't care for if not outright hated. Hopefully, we can help change the minds of at least a couple of haters out there.


1. Raiden - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Raiden in Metal Gear Rising (Image via Konami)
Raiden in Metal Gear Rising (Image via Konami)

Solid Snake became a household name (at least within households that owned a video game console) after the release of Metal Gear Solid in 1998. When news of a sequel to the game arrived, and especially on the quantum leap of quality from system to system that was the PlayStation 2, to say fans were excited was an understatement.

And fans did get to play as Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2 - for a couple of hours. Eventually, though, we'd all discover the true hero of the game - Raiden.

Blonde, skinny, and green behind the gills, Raiden seemed to be everything Solid Snake wasn't. He complained regularly, especially to his girlfriend who was brought on board as mission support because, yeah, that makes sense. He even had an annoying voice - sorry, but he did!

However, it wouldn't be too long before we learned the actual truth about Raiden. Jack, his real name, was born in Liberia and was raised as a child soldier. And, boy was he good at being a child soldier. So much so that he was nicknamed "Jack the Ripper." Yes, that's terrible but it's also badass.

By MGS4, Raiden had been turned into a cybernetic ninja, which makes anyone awesome. By the time he got his own game, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance - he was a certified legend.


2. Conner Kenway - Assassin's Creed III

Conner in Assassin's Creed III (Image via Ubisoft)
Conner in Assassin's Creed III (Image via Ubisoft)

Let's be honest, any character that followed in the shadow of Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin's Creed II was going to have a hard time. Both he and his game were such a huge step forward from the previous game that expectations were sky-high. So, Conner Kenway had his work cut out for him even before his game went into production.

Many have criticized Conner's presentation, with some calling him "straight-laced" and "humorless." Which, to be fair... is kinda true. If you grew up the way he did and then saw your entire village, including your mother violently burned down, you probably wouldn't be much of a wisecracking jokester either.

However, he's also an incredibly skilled hunter and fighter - even before training as an Assassin. His growth as a character might seem lacking, but it's there, especially once he meets his father, Haytham. By the time the DLC, The Tyranny of King Washington, rolls around, he's actually likable.


3. Tidus - Final Fantasy X

Tidus doin' this thing in FFX (Image via Square Enix)
Tidus doin' this thing in FFX (Image via Square Enix)

It's unfortunate that Tidus gets such a bad rap, considering he turns out to be a really interesting video game character.

Without going into spoilers, Final Fantasy X's main protagonist goes through a pretty intense arc. He's a popular professional athlete living in the shadow of his more famous father. A father whom he didn't have the best relationship with and one who vanished when he was young.

When Tidus arrives in Spira, he comes across as foolish and annoying. But so would you if you were suddenly thrust into an unknown world after fighting a giant sea monster. As he gets more acclimated to his new surroundings, his real personality begins to shine. Eventually, he finds love and even helps save the world. Which makes the eventual ending to the game all the more heartbreaking.

So let's cut the guy some slack.


4. Aiden Pearce - Watch_Dogs

Aiden Pearce in Watch_Dogs (Image via Ubisoft)
Aiden Pearce in Watch_Dogs (Image via Ubisoft)

Let's not kid ourselves here. Aiden Pearce is kind of an a-hole. There's no two ways about it. But, he's certainly not without his redeeming qualities and he's hardly, as some would like to characterize him, uninteresting. In fact, he might be the most interesting playable character in the entire franchise. Which I do realize is not saying very much.

Aiden is tough, resourceful, and smart. He's been both a criminal and a crime fighter during his life, making him interestingly complex. When we meet him in Watch_Dogs, he's grieving the death of his niece, who was killed during an attempt on his life. He has a strained relationship with his family, but they also mean everything to him.

Even after his appearances in Watch_Dogs 2 and Watch_Dogs Legion, we don't get to know Aiden Pearce all that well. But, what we do know of him makes him fascinating and, in our opinion, one of gaming's most interesting protagonists.


#5. Ethan Mars - Heavy Rain

Ethan Mars in Heavy Rain (not yelling "Jason!") (Image via Quantic Dream)
Ethan Mars in Heavy Rain (not yelling "Jason!") (Image via Quantic Dream)

JASON!

Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

Ethan Mars is one of the four playable characters in Quantic Dreams' mystery thriller of a game, Heavy Rain. Of course, his shouting "Jason!" while looking for his lost son during the opening segments of the game has become a meme at this point. And, understandably so.

But, when you look past the memes and the fact that life just seems to deal Ethan a crappy hand from the start, you get a better idea of what he's really like. The fact that he's willing to go through the things he does for just a sliver of a clue toward rescuing his other son from a serial killer says everything.

Such is the emotional impact of Heavy Rain that if you play all the way through and achieve the happy ending for Ethan and his family, you'll likely find yourself wiping away a tear or two.


6. Bubsy the Bobcat - Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind

Bubsy's latest adventures (which are actually pretty good!) (Image via Nintendo)
Bubsy's latest adventures (which are actually pretty good!) (Image via Nintendo)

Poor Bubsy.

Bubsy the Bobcat was a character conceived by the folks at Accolade, particularly Michael Berlyn, in the early 1990s, as an attempt to compete with the numerous character/animal mascots that dominated gaming at the time.

He was designed, to have a sassy attitude (aka a " 'tude") and quip pithy catchphrases throughout the game.

Yes, Bubsy was, as we said, an attempt to cash in on the current gaming craze at the time. What people fail to remember is that Berlyn and the rest of the team at Accolade never denied this. Bubsy the Bobcat was a character that screamed "We are capitalizing on a trend but we're still going to create something fun."

Let me ask you this - out of these three characters, which one had a game come out in the past ten years? Aero the Acrobat, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, or Bubsy the Bobcat?

Yeah, it was Bubsy. And I hope we see him again soon.

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Edited by Shivangi
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