And one honourable mention for sheer annoyance.
Over the course of a video game, our protagonist is our eyes and ears through the world we’ve come to inhabit. However beyond these lovable (and often not to lovable) host bodies, we find some pretty awesome characters along the way.
10. Fallout Series- Mysterious Stranger
Since the original Fallout title, the Mysterious Stranger has been showing up randomly to help those in need during times of battle. When taking on an enemy, if you find yourself in a hopeless situation, you just might be on the lucky side of an in-game equation that determines the Mysterious Stranger’s mysterious appearance. The strange, unexplained character has been showing up in games since the series’ beginning, in various different getups, spawning many a fan theory concerning his identity. His abilities and weapon of choice change from game to game, as does the length of the time he spends on the map during and after combat. Needless to say, he’s come to be known as a guardian angel type figure within the Fallout universe, and deserves a spot on the list even just for his style.
9. Borderlands – ClapTrap
Who doesn’t love this annoying little robotic buddy who meets you straight off the bus at the beginning of Borderlands. A general purpose robot built by Hyperion, this CL4P-TP begins the series as an apologetic and charming but oh so cowardly tutorial leader and through a number of different incarnations becomes considerably more ballsy as the series progresses. Through mutinies, reprogramming disasters, and ninja assassin-ry, it’s not hard to see that bumbling, screaming little droid from the first game with every encounter.
8. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Navi
A somewhat controversial one, Navi has been ridiculed throughout the Legend of Zelda fandom for her unbelievably annoying “hey! Listen” catchphrase. It led many to play the game on mute, and still spawns numerous jokes that receive a hearty chuckle. She helped us through some tough times though, leading us to that hidden door in a dungeon or spouting some sometimes useful hints about defeating an enemy. In the end, despite her constant, and quite concerning, need for attention, it was sad to see her fly off and leave us confused and sad, but mostly confused.
7. Resident Evil 4 – The Merchant
Amongst hordes of biomedical-esque zombie-like enemies, some sporting a good old fashioned pitchfork and others wielding a terrifying chainsaw, there was a friendly face around some corners obliviously immune to the chaos around him. With a friendly “What’re ya buyin?” and a courteous “Is that all, stranger?”, The Merchant was always there for our weaponry needs. Signalled by a blue plume of smoke and a hell of an overcoat, the initial terror at the sight of him when turning a corner was happily drained at the realisation that it’s just the merchant with some health spray to sell.
6. Crash Bandicoot – Aku Aku
Aku Aku is Crash’s mentor throughout the series, appearing in the first title and making his way through each other in one form or another. When the elementals crash (pun absolutely intended) the party in The Wrath of Cortex, Aku Aku is willing to step up and fight his mask friends turned bad alongside his marsupial student. Providing the player with temporary immunity to certain enemy attacks throughout the Crash Bandicoot series, and acting as a wise sage in between levels, it’s impossible not to love his super serious voice and eyebrow acting.
5. Ratchet & Clank – Captain Qwark
Captain Qwark has become famous with the Ratchet & Clank series just because he translates so well into cut-scenes and film. Though initially appearing in several titles as the antagonist, Qwark soon switched sides and joined the team with some straight up hilarious voice work and freshly quick quips. He’s a lovable idiot, raised by monkeys and sporting the middle name Leslie, his giant green figure can be seen bouncing around with Ratchet himself in many levels throughout the series.
4. The Last of Us – Ellie
Though not technically a side character, as she is playable in the game, The Last of Us’s Ellie stole the show in Naughty Dog’s record breaking farewell to the PS3. Growing up in the quarantine zone, 14 year old Ellie showed us wisdom beyond her years and gave protagonist Joel the motivation to keep pushing against what feels like insurmountable pressures. The fact that there’s so much extra information surrounding Ellie’s character is testament to her effect on fans, with individuals from a vastly different backgrounds identifying with the character herself, or with Joel’s need to protect her.
3. The Walking Dead – Clementine
In a similar role, though with less gun possession, The Walking Dead’s Clementine gave some serious gravity to each of your decisions as protagonist Lee. With the young girl to look after, each of your motivations had to be weighed up under this dynamic, resulting in a whole dimension of gameplay spawned from one small child. With her somewhat declining emergence in the last few episodes, fans have been assured that she is to come back for the third season releasing this year. Clementine proves wisely cautious of her surroundings, and plays to different parts of Lee’s personality as the game progresses, forcing players to consider the wider implications of their actions on a much more personal level.
2. Portal 2 – Wheatley
Voiced by Stephen Merchant, this “Intelligence Dampening Sphere” was initially designed to cling to the side of antagonist GLaDOS in order to inhibit her mental abilities through a constant stream of bad ideas. Who better to guide you through the world of Portal 2. Fans instantly fell in love with Wheatley’s dry humour and sarcastic demeanour. It’s hard to animate a robotic orb to generate enough emotion to evoke humour, but Wheatley’s character proved it could be done and done well.
Honourable Mention: The Most Annoying Side-Character In The History of Video Games
Ashley Graham. Resident Evil 4. I still to this day will be playing a game and my blood will run cold as the phrase “help me Leon” enters my mind. I imagine it obviously, this mind-numbingly frustrating character only existed in the fourth Resi game, but she feels eternal and she’s haunting me to this day. This girl, in her tiny skirt and yellow t-shirt would run into a horde of undead Spanish scaries, start flailing and demand assistance. If she died, I had to start all over again, and apparently she really wanted to die. I shot her so many times i started to think that’s all the game was.
1. Uncharted Series – Victor “Sully” Sullivan
Nathan Drake’s mentor and father figure, Sully stuck by his protege through all his adventures. Keeping a cigar lit and sprinting through the jungle is just one of Sully’s most endearing talents, with his one-liner responses to Nate’s smart-arse wit and his willingness to launch himself into the most hairy of situations, Sully is a much loved counterpart. Taking Nate in as a boy when he found him rooting through a museum in Columbia, the pair have been the treasure hunting dream team ever since. He’s come close to death a good few times, each one more heart wrenching than the last, so fans have become fiercely protective of their protagonist’s teacher.