To get one thing clear right off the bat, every member of the main and supporting cast in Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding is pure gold. From their writing to the performances, we cannot think of any way they could have been better. After all, it's not hard to bring the script to life when talented actors like Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen are delivering it. With that being said, some characters engage in amoral activity or break Sam's trust.
To that effect, the following list will detail five characters we loved and five characters we can't stand from Death Stranding, judging them more by their actions in the story than their qualities as a written character. If they were judged by on the writing, they'd all be ten out of tens. Because it discusses characters, spoilers abound, but there are other places on the site you can read some spoiler-free thoughts on the game.
10 Love: Sam
The main character holds some qualities typical to video game leads but drastically varies in other areas. His vulnerability and inability to touch other people without feeling repulsion makes the player feel sorry for him. Later on in the story, his tragic past is revealed and gamers gain a deeper understanding of why he is so off-putting.
His relationship with BB is one of the strongest bonds in gaming. Instead of showing it purely through cut scenes, gameplay mechanics show just how close they become throughout the campaign as Sam comforts it when it cries and reassures it as the BB helps detect BTs.
9 Cannot Stand: Bridget Strand
The president of the shattered country hasn't seen her son in ten years, and what does she do upon their reunion? She almost immediately dies after laying a guilt trip on him, basically giving him no choice but to embark on the journey to reconnect the United Cities of America to the Chiral Network. Future revelations make her part in the story even more sinister. It was cool to get Lindsay Wagner in the part, but it doesn't make her role any less manipulative.
8 Love: Heartman
Nicolas Winding Refn may anger a lot of people as a filmmaker, but, as the likeness of Heartman, we cannot help but love him. Let's not forget to mention Darren Jacobs either for providing the voice. Despite living life twenty-one minutes at a time, the scientist manages to find time to help Sam with his journey, even going behind the organization's back to get to the bottom of the game's deepest mysteries. Most of the characters have tragic backstories, but Heartman's is particularly heart-wrenching.
7 Cannot Stand: Deadman
Deadman redeems himself one hundred percent by the conclusion, but he's on the naughty list for a long time beforehand. While Sam is forging a bond with BB, he constantly reiterates how the child is just a toy and shouldn't be regarded as human.
Only after spending alone time with it does he come to see the error in his ways. Additionally, he helps Sam get to the heart of the mystery surrounding Bridges and their true motives for getting the Chiral Network back online. For all the good he does, not everyone can forgive his attitude at the game's onset.
6 Love: Fragile
Played by Lea Seydoux, Fragile heads her own courier company. In the past, she was betrayed by Higgs and forced to endure the damages from timefall in order to save South Knot City from a nuclear bomb. Despite her actions, most regard her as a collaborator to the terrorist plot.
Before the truth of her heroism is revealed, she still does what she can to help Sam, in turn helping the people who hate her. She would have every right to go away, but, instead, she stays, and the effort eventually clears her name.
5 Cannot Stand: Die-Hardman
Interestingly enough, Die-Hardman turns into a central figure in the plot. The marketing materials shy away from him, and he seems inconsequential for the first several hours. Eventually, it becomes clear he is hiding secrets from Sam.
By the end of the game, those past sins become crystal clear. It's not the player's place to condemn him, as only the people he wronged have the right to curse or forgive, but it's hard to look at him the same way again after the truth comes out.
4 Love: Cliff
He's not here simply because he's portrayed by the endlessly talented Madds Mikkelsen, but it helps. Cliff signed up for the experimental BB program because he thought it would save his unborn child. When he learned the truth, he tried to escape with it. This meant killing his comatose wife. Making such a choice couldn't have been easy, but he did it for the BB. Sadly, the plan didn't work, and he lost his life trying to escape with his kid.
3 Cannot Stand: Higgs
During the story, one cannot help but hate Higgs. He comes by at all the wrong times to ruin Sam's day. Troy Baker did his job flawlessly, and that's why he is someone we cannot stand. Later interviews in-game reveal more about his backstory, making him more sympathetic, but does it forgive his actions? One can say he was manipulated, but it's not like somebody was directly controlling his mind. He still did all those terrible things of his own fruition.
2 Love: Mama
Mama and her twin sister had a nearly unbreakable bond until tragedy struck her during childbirth. The circumstances led to a BT baby and a severed connection with her sister. Eventually, she cut ties with the child in order to reconnect with Lockne, an act which also doomed her. She had been dead this whole time, only kept in this bizarre state of consciousness through her child. When the time came for her to make a sacrifice for the team and the chance to see her sister again, she didn't think twice about it.
1 Cannot Stand: Amelie
Amelie starts the game as an innocent heir to the presidential seat. The last act reveals her true nature, making Sam feel betrayed for everything he had done so far. Despite her lies and goals, Sam embraces her, remembering how she gave him life and was there for him in his darkest moments.
To some players, she was manipulative, just like her mother, who turns out to be the same person in a twisted turn of events. While it is her decision to stop the Last Stranding by living out an eternity separated from humanity and alone, it was also her actions that put the world in its current state in the first place.