In light of the shocking death on The Walking Dead, Game Rant takes a look at the most memorable character deaths in video game history.
Over recent years, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to enjoy a gripping shows and movies without grappling with the risk of a favorite character being killed off. Whether it be Game of Thrones or American Horror Story, some franchises seem to relish in the chance to bump off a beloved character. Indeed, The Walking Dead recently made the mortality of its cast all the more apparent through shocking character death.
However, video game fans may be a little more acclimatized to the early demise of a character. After all, the gaming community has had to put up with the lives of fan favorites being cut short for an extremely long time. Here’s Game Rant’s look at the ten video game deaths we will never forget. Be warned: many spoilers lie ahead.
10 Roach and Ghost – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
From the moment that the Call of Duty series was thrust into the modern day with the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, it was made clear that the tables had turned when it came to the player character’s mortality. The death of Sergeant Jackson after the detonation of a nuclear bomb set a chilling precedent for the rest of the series, paving the way for the truly shocking deaths of Modern Warfare 2.
Although the No Russian mission has understandably become infamous within the gaming community and beyond, the most memorable deaths in the game are those of Roach and Ghost. Coming after a fiendish mission to retrieve vital information, both of the operatives were betrayed by General Shepherd, leaving gamers wanting revenge.
9 Henry and Sam – The Last of Us
Life in the world of The Last of Us is a tough one, and it seems as though no character has fully been able to avoid the horrors and tragedies of the cordyceps infection. However, even with this backdrop of death, there was little to prepare players for the deaths of two of the most sympathetic characters in the game.
Brothers Henry and Sam become begrudging allies of Joel and Ellie over the course of The Last of Us, and the loyalty that the two brothers hold to one another is one of the most human moments of the game. However, like most of the remnants of society in the title, it cannot last forever. Younger brother Sam becomes infected, resulting in Henry killing his own brother before turning the gun on himself.
8 Dom – Gears of War 3
Given the violence found in many games, it’s no surprise to see close bonds and family ties being strained to the point of impossibility in many cases. The Gears of War series is one that certainly revels in tearing loved ones apart, be it with Marcus Fenix and his father or played more comically with the Carmine brothers. However, it all pales in comparison to that of Dominic Santiago and his wife Maria.
Dom's search for his missing wife makes up a large subplot of the Gears of War games, before the character discovers her 'processed' by the Locust in Gears of War 2. To make things even more painful for the player, Dom then dies himself in Gears of War 3, albeit heroically. The death of such an important character to the series, and the fact that he was never truly able to avenge the tragedy of his family, was shocking for many gamers.
7 Lee – The Walking Dead
Since The Walking Dead’s TV adaptation has been causing a ruckus due to the grotesque death of one of its most well loved characters, it’s perhaps important to point out that these deaths happen across every Walking Dead story. The Telltale Games adaptations of the comic series are no strangers to killing off important characters, and this was typified perfectly by the tragic death of Lee in the first season.
Seen by many as one of the most compelling video game protagonists of all time, Lee saw it as his mission to keep the young Clementine safe in spite of the dangers of an infected world. In the end, however, a mixture of a bizarre plot and a zombie bite was enough to ensure that Lee would not be able to see Clem’s journey to the end – but at the very least, he was able to make sure she was able to survive. Nonetheless, gamers would be forgiven for tearing up a little at the end of the season’s final chapter.
6 Booker DeWitt – BioShock Infinite
The BioShock franchise is one that has always toyed with player expectations - just look at how important the phrase "would you kindly" is in the original game. However, BioShock Infinite took the number of twists and turns in the series to a whole new level, particularly with regards to the fate of player character Booker DeWitt.
At the end of the game, DeWitt discovers that he is just one of the branching paths of antagonist Zachary Hale Comstock, and that the only way to erase all of the horrors committed by the villain is to die before their pathways split. To do this, Booker is drowned at his own baptism, thereby stopping Comstock from having ever existed.
5 Mordin Solus – Mass Effect 3
It’s hard to think of a series with higher stakes than Mass Effect; after all, the fate of the entire galaxy is on the line. As such, it’s perhaps no surprise to see many a character that would be considered untouchable in another series bite the bullet. Although the death of either Kaidan or Ashley forced gamers into a memorable decision, it’s the sacrifice of Mordin in Mass Effect 3 that truly sticks in the mind.
Through the events of the Mass Effect trilogy, Mordin had become a solid fan favorite, mixing a quirky personality and upbeat persona with a dark and complex backstory to great effect. That history comes back around on the Salarian, however, and – although Mordin’s death can technically be avoided – his sacrifice to save the lives of millions is one of the most memorable parts of the entire series.
4 Baby – Super Metroid
The Metroid franchise is hardly one known for sentimentality. Samus is a hardened bounty hunter going up against enemies with no real emotional connections, and so most of her adventures pull less on the heartstrings and more on the triggers of missile launchers or ice beams. However, there is one moment in Super Metroid that truly stands out.
At the end of the game, it appears as though Samus has met her match in a gruelling battle against Mother Brain. The Metroid Hatchling, which Samus saved in Metroid 2, leapt to her aide, giving her vital support and taking a mortal wound from Mother Brain in the process. This moment of protection from a creature previously seen as completely inhuman certainly stands out as one of the high points of the entire Metroid franchise.
3 Eli Vance – Half-Life 2: Episode 2
As one of the longest standing characters in the Half-Life universe, albeit as a minor character in the first game, Eli Vance certainly gathered plenty of fans within the gaming community. Players of Valve's acclaimed first-person shooter series became attached to Eli through his depiction in the second game and its episodes, and were therefore unsettled by his death at the end of Half-Life 2: Episode 2.
To make matters worse, Half-Life fans have never had the chance to avenge Eli's death. Episode 2 has been the last release in the franchise so far, and although rumors of a Half-Life sequel continue to circulate, it's growing increasingly unlikely that Gordon Freeman will ever be able to make the Combine pay.
2 John Marston – Red Dead Redemption
With Red Dead Redemption 2 now officially announced by Rockstar, no doubt many gamers will be turning back to the first Red Dead Redemption to take a second look at the hugely popular open world title. However, even after all these years, the death of protagonist John Marston will perhaps feel like too much to bear for many.
In the final part of the game before a distant epilogue, Marston is betrayed by those he was working for, proving to be too much of a loose end for Edgar Ross and the Bureau. Taking on insurmountable odds, Marston falls under heavy gunfire, never able to live out the quiet life with his family that he desperately craved. Although the game's finale gives players the chance to avenge John through his son’s actions, this victory still feels hollow in comparison to what came before.
1 Aerith – Final Fantasy 7
It says a lot about the impact of a character’s death if gamers then search for years to find a way to avoid it. That is certainly the case with the death of Aerith in Final Fantasy 7. Set up as an integral part of the game’s story, Aerith’s time in the player’s party is then cut tragically short, after being killed by Sephiroth.
Immediately afterwards, a way to revive Aerith became one of the most well-known video game hoaxes, with fans of the Final Fantasy series sharing convoluted ways to bring the character back. Of course, these all proved to be false, with Aerith’s death serving as a permanent reminder of the stakes at play. Perhaps gamers after a way to save the character will have their wish in the Final Fantasy 7 remake.
What do you make of our list? Are there any memorable video game deaths that you feel deserve a mention? Let us know in the comments!