7 Great Video Games With An Insufferable Protagonist

Video game storytelling is always evolving. Even though a game’s story and characters don’t have to be good, it helps a lot when they are compelling. The following games in this list are all incredible despite having some incredibly bad protagonists.

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They make this list for a variety of reasons and many people will have their own opinions on what exactly makes these characters so unlikeable. Would these games be better if they did not have such annoying protagonists? It’s hard to say. Maybe a part of their identity is the insufferable hero and the game would not feel the same if it was someone we adored.

7 Duke Nukem – Duke Nukem 3D

Duke Nukem 3D

Duke had a personality in the first two games, which were side-scrolling shooters, but he did not become a fleshed-out cultural icon until Duke Nukem 3D. The game is often considered one of the best FPS games of the 1990s.

His one-liners and questionable attitude towards women have not aged well, although Duke Nukem 3D is still a great first-person shooter with creative levels encouraging exploration. The long-awaited sequel, Duke Nukem Forever, does not live up to the same standard. The series has been on ice since then, and it is unclear if it will ever come back. Maybe the world has moved past characters like Duke Nukem.

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6 Leon Kennedy – Resident Evil 4

Resident-Evil-4-Remake-Leon-S-Kennedy-Shinji-Mikami

Resident Evil is infamous for having weak protagonists. Virtually any character from the franchise could make this list but Leon Kennedy stands out because of Resident Evil 4. It has a solid place as one of the greatest games of all time and marked a new evolution in the franchise. However, while the gameplay changed, the writing did not.

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Its dialogue feels like a bad ’80s action movie, complete with a protagonist spouting off bad puns he thinks are more clever than they are. We’re just thankful he matures a bit by Resident Evil 6. The most frustrating part is that the Resident Evil 2 remake sees a completely different Leon Kennedy. Not only is the writing better, but the performances are top-notch relative to the prior entries, showing us what could, and should, have been.

5 Jack Carver – Far Cry

far cry screenshot jack in a jeep

Far Cry has come a long way since its debut entry from developer Crytek. The gameplay in the first game feels more like a predecessor to Crysis as opposed to the open-world mayhem of Far Cry 5 and 6. The recent entries in the series try to have deeper storylines with compelling villains.

If you play the first Far Cry, released in 2004, you won’t find a similar level of depth. Jack Carver is not nearly as interesting a hero as Dani Rojas. He fits the archetype of a hero from a straight-to-DVD action film. It is entirely appropriate, then, that Uwe Boll directed the film adaptation.

4 Liu Kang And Kung Lao – Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks

Shaolin Monks - MK Games 3D Era Revisit

It took a while for Mortal Kombat spin-offs to hit one out of the park. The Sub-Zero game and Special Forces were met with both critical and ridiculous fandom. The series finally did it right with Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, a cooperative brawler for the PS2 and Xbox.

The story retells the events of Mortal Kombat 2 and features all the iconic characters you would expect to see in Mortal Kombat. Don’t expect the well-polished scenes from Mortal Kombat X or 11, however. The two leads, Liu Kang and Kung Lao, are a far cry from who they are in the recent games. Knowing where the series’ cinematics would go makes it harder to see this interpretation of the two protagonists.

3 Aiden Pearce – Watch Dogs

Aiden Pearce Watch Dogs

Watch Dogs came at a good time. At the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, people wanted an open-world adventure. The ability to manipulate the environment by hacking electronics distinguished it from other open-world games, but its protagonist is completely forgettable.

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The fact he wears incredibly drab and generic clothing does not help either. The sequel tried to make a more lively hero, but the third game opts for leaving out a central character altogether.

2 Sargent Cortez – TimeSplitters 2

timesplitters 2 cortez copy

The first TimeSplitters takes place in a variety of unconnected levels with the simple objective of finding an item and bringing it to a goal. TimeSplitters 2 has more cutscenes and real missions with more involved objectives. The main protagonist is Sergeant Cortez, who has no personality.

It’s a plus that his role merely bookends the plot and all the other levels feature him in the bodies of different characters throughout history. Fortunately, the sequel salvages the character, along with the narrative in general. TimeSplitters 3 is genuinely funny, and Cortez is turned into a lovable doofus.


venom snake eye patch

The fifth numbered Metal Gear Solid changes actors for the protagonist from David Hayter to Kiefer Sutherland. It is hard to judge the effect this has simply because the actor barely talks throughout the story. It is the most frustrating part about the protagonist.

It is the biggest Metal Gear game by far yet has the fewest cutscenes and the least amount of dialogue from the hero. The story is still great, we just wish Venom Snake talked more. It makes the character feel unrecognizable, though there are some narrative reasons behind that, including the traumatic events that put him into a nine-year coma.

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