Death is a tough thing to deal with for most. The feeling of loss and sorrow has found itself extending to video games as we've seen the medium enter a new age of great storytelling and outstanding narratives. Unlike movies, people spend tons of hours with characters and develop relationships and bonds with these characters on the screen in front of them. The problem with video games, however, is that heroes rarely die.
With this list, I wanted to take a look at what makes a death 'happy.' If a hero dies, but they do so for a cause (or maybe it helps define character moments later in the story), then some people might say they're happy that hero gave their life. I've done my best to gather a list of video game heroes whose death made us happy for some reason or another. Maybe they were annoying, and we're glad they're gone. Maybe their death led to an iconic moment of character development. Or maybe their death helped take the story or franchise in a completely new direction. No one of a sane mind is ever happy when a good guy dies, but that doesn't mean we can't look back at their death as a blessing in disguise. Some of these entries might surprise you, but I do have a genuine reason why they were placed on this list. Let's now take a look at 15 heroes we're so happy died.
15 Yoshi (Super Mario World)
I decided to start with a death that many players either don't think about or never consider at all. Super Mario World introduced players to the ability to be able to ride Yoshi and use him to literally jump to new heights. We're all familiar with what I'm talking about. You're nearing the end of a level and want to get an extra life, so what do you do? That's right, you leap off of Yoshi at the peak of the jump and complete the level in stellar fashion. What you seem to forget is that this sends Yoshi cascading to an inevitable death. Without Yoshi, we wouldn't be able to continue on our journey. Every time he died this way, he was sacrificing himself for the greater good. Thank you for that, Yoshi!
14 Ethan (Game Of Thrones)
Telltale tends to work with properties known for killing good guys, so expect a couple more Telltale entries. Ethan Forrester was a character players embraced quite quickly during the first episode of Telltale's Game of Thrones. Ramsey Bolton decided that Ethan was more trouble than he wanted with House Forrester and killed him swiftly and surprisingly at the climax of the first episode. This death brought happiness to the player because it set the tone for what this would be. It reaffirmed that Telltale was making a game in the Game of Thrones universe — and most importantly they wouldn't be pulling any punches. It proved that the game wasn't afraid to do the unexpected. This helped build confidence in players that they were indeed getting an authentic Game of Thrones experience.
13 Ashley/Kaiden (Mass Effect)
I couldn't decide which of these two I wanted on the list. Of course, the death of either of these characters was decided by the player towards the end of the first Mass Effect. Do you let the boring sidekick with no personality die? Or do you say goodbye to a smart combatant who just so happens to be an alien racist? In a franchise known for having great side characters that you bond with and grow close to, Kaiden and Ashley are almost always a the bottom of the list. Players were excited to choose who they wanted to ditch moving forward. It was great to relieve yourself of baggage you no longer wanted. I was super cool with letting Ashley go considering there were far more interesting female characters in Mass Effect 2. Plus Kaiden's so boring it's easy to forget about him.
12 Kenny/Jane (Telltale's The Walking Dead)
Time to talk about another death that was all about your decision. Kenny and Jane were two polarizing characters who both felt they knew what was best for both Clementine and AJ. They both wanted what was best but approached the player with polarizing ideologies. This was another fork in the road where players were given a true sense of choice. As Clementine, the player decided who lived and who died. Has Kenny bothered you ever since Season 1 and you've been dying to get rid of him? Is Jane an emotional ball of annoyance? Well, you were able to choose who ventured forth and who met their demise. This brought joy to a lot of players because they were able to shape Clementine's future into what they felt was best for her.
11 Tess (The Last Of Us)
The Last of Us was a game that introduced death to us early and often. It helped shape the gravity of Joel and Elle's situation and deepened the player's connection to both of them. Tess' death was a pivotal point in the narrative where you realized Naughty Dog knew how to create a winning formula. Players weren't necessarily with Tess enough to have her death really affect them on an emotional level, but it did lead to something great. Her death paved the way for players to understand that this story was about Joel and Elle. It showed that Naughty Dog could expertly weave these characters who felt important in and out in a way that felt justified. Tess' death came at the culmination of a turning point in the narrative and paved the way for an incredible journey.
10 Dirk The Daring (Dragon's Lair)
Enough with the somber tone. Let's talk about someone who's on this list specifically for the levity and comedic relief he brought to gaming. In many tales of fantasy players are introduced to gruesome or horrible deaths. Though death is an inevitability it's often treated as a very dark and ominous event. Dragon's Lair was able to find this middle ground where death was humorous but also showcased a somewhat brutal end. It was able to show Dirk dying in imaginative ways that piqued the interest of the player. For many reasons, we haven't seen a game capture what Dragon's Lair accomplished. I know I'm not alone when I say I spent tons of time watching all the ways Dirk the Daring could meet his demise.
9 Commander Shepard (Mass Effect 2)
Mass Effect 2 is often regarded as one of the best openings to a game in the history of the medium. Players are immediately thrust into a narrative of unknowns and uncertainties. When was the last time that the main character of the game died within its first 5 minutes? This completely threw off fans of the original game and showed the unpredictability of the universe. Players were used to entering a sequel on a figurative parade float. The reason this brought happiness to people playing Mass Effect is that it established that the story was bigger than Commander Shepard. This helped define the importance of the numerous cast of characters you meet, help, and form bonds with through the entirety of the Mass Effect 2 story.
8 Desmond (Assassin's Creed III)
Desmond was a very important character in the Assassin's Creed franchise. He helped players navigate through the series' greatest character arc. Ezio is by far the best assassin in terms of character and story the franchise has ever seen. Unfortunately in Assassin's Creed III, long after Desmond's time with Ezio had come to a close, Desmond sacrificed himself for the greater good. As far as in-game narrative this was a sad but bold move that benefited the future of the Assassin's Guild and helped fend off Abstergo just a little longer. In terms of a franchise, this was a metaphorical restart. This was the turning point for a long a storied series. Desmond's death symbolized Ubisoft's intentions of trying to steer the Assassin's Creed series in a more refreshing direction.
7 John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
Stick with me on this one. You probably read the name and said: "How in the hell was anyone happy when John Marston died?" Well, I actually have an answer for you. John Marston's death was equal parts surprising and tragic. He was gunned down in cold blood and the player was left mesmerized. Now, I know that on the service not a single player was jumping for joy. No one wanted to see him die. John Marston was a respectable character with a troubled past. His death did set up a great experience of revenge and payback. Players were able to get justice for the wrongs done to John Marston. Red Dead Redemption was about the death of a cowboy, you really didn't think Rockstar was going to give you literal representation?
6 Heroes In Super Smash Bros. (Every Super Smash Bros. Game)
This is a bit of a softball, but I had to include it. The Super Smash Bros. roster is filled with tons of characters, some villains but mostly heroes. When you're in a match against your buddy who mains Link and he's one stock away from losing there isn't a more joyous moment than when you ring them out for a victory. Yeah you may have just killed the hero of Hyrule, and thus allowed the free reign of Ganon for centuries to come, but you didn't lose to your friend. Really, isn't that what really matters? All jokes aside Super Smash Bros. is an interesting franchise considering you're given the opportunity to demolish all of these heroes you've piloting to countless accomplishments throughout the years.
5 Emily (Until Dawn)
In Until Dawn players have the power in their hands to help this group of kids live or die. If you find a character to rub you the wrong way, then maybe you make decisions for them that are slightly erratic or dangerous. Emily is a character in Until Dawn that has very little to no redeeming qualities. She's constantly complaining and is a major reason for a lot of the events taking place. Her entire situation with Mike is a subplot that drags on a lot longer than it should have. Emily also happens to have one of the coolest deaths in the game. The quick-time events players must navigate through to save her are hectic and fill you with anxiety. There's no shame in simply missing a couple of them and letting Emily's fate take control of itself.
4 Maria Santiago (Gears Of War 2)
Okay, I know what you're going to say, but Maria was technically a hero aligning character. I want to begin by saying that her death was indeed tragic and was a great emotional moment for a franchise often categorized as being a bro shooter. Dominic finally finding his wife and getting a resolution to his quest was a great payoff for the player. Though this death was sad and changed the Dom we once knew, it did a lot of good for Gears of War. It showed that this mindless bro shooter could make an emotional impact. It reaffirmed that you can do interesting things inside any kind of fiction. Maria Santiago may have never been a playable character. She might not have ever killed a locust. But her death brought happiness to those who wanted more out of Gears of War.
3 Kratos (God Of War 3)
Rebirth is a concept we've touched on briefly, but with the upcoming release of God of War, it seems that God of War 3's ending is the greatest example of a character's indicated rebirth. It was never really clear what happened to Kratos at the end of God of War 3. All we knew is that he uttered the name of his wife and daughter right before what seemed to be his death. His possible death caused a split reaction amongst fans. Some were happy that the story concluded since it felt like it was growing long in the tooth. Others felt it was an end of an era they loved. Interestingly enough we've seen what the new God of War is bringing to fans. It's a metaphorical rebirth of Kratos in the land of Norse mythology. It seems that the supposed death was the best decision they could have made for the future of Kratos and God of War.
2 Revali (The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild)
The Champions in Breath of the Wild are all unique and Nintendo did a pretty good job at bringing them to life. Revali is an interesting case because as a character he's really fleshed out and was surprisingly well written. That being said, he tends to come off as quite annoying and doesn't seem to encompass any redeeming qualities. Props to Revali for piloting arguably the coolest divine beast in the entire game, but man I'm happy he was unsuccessful in his mission. When you hear about the demise of the Champions and come to understand them, you tend to feel sad and wish you could do anything to bring them back. Revali is the odd man out for most people it seems like. Nintendo did too well of a job making him eccentric to the point of annoyance.
1 Lee Everett (Telltale's The Walking Dead)
First Sarah from The Last of Us, now Lee Everett from Telltale's The Walking Dead. Talk about a 1-2 punch for the ages. Telltale doesn't make games that are graphically impressive, but from a narrative perspective, their games are mostly untouchable. They guided players through a journey with Clementine and Lee that we hadn't necessarily seen in the zombie genre. When the end of Season 1 is upon players, and they're tasked with ending Lee's suffering or letting him turn it, it single-handedly paved the road we each individually wanted for Clementine. Lee's death was an important character-defining moment for Clementine that resonated with everyone. Lee's death helped players understand how much they truly cared about Clementine's story. It was her story all along.