Nothing beats the feeling you get when you fire up a brand new game. The excitement. The cool intro music. The title screen and opening scene. Those first few button presses. These elements combine to create a euphoric state of, “Don’t bother me right now. I’m gaming.” Nothing can ruin this moment—or so you thought.
Suddenly, a piercing laugh splits your ears. You hear the same annoying catchphrase over and over again. You examine the game case only to find a goofy gecko striking a laid back pose—with sunglasses! You try another game and another, but it’s no use. You’re drowning in a pool of annoying heroes, and they aren’t just relegated to crappy titles. They are in good games, as well.
Games where you find yourself thinking, “This is good. It could even be great if not for one little thing.” Often, we can’t quite put our finger on what is preventing us from fully enjoying what should otherwise be a solid, immersive experience. Well, I’m here to tell you that, in most cases, it’s because you are forced to deal with a whiny, incompetent, cliche, or downright stupid protagonist. From infantilized Vanille to a psychotic, anthropomorphic pencil to the unbelievable number of Mario and Sonic clones, here are 15 characters that are so annoying they will not only take you out of the game but will make you want to rupture your eardrums.
See if you can make it through these entries with your sanity intact.
15 The Noid—Yo! Noid
Back in the 80s, Domino's Pizza had a mascot called the Noid who was hellbent on destroying them. Someone took one look at the claymation man in a skintight, red rabbit suit and thought, “Yeah, this guy, with his annoying antics and laugh, needs to be in a game.”
The Noid manages to look simultaneously creepy and ridiculous. He doesn’t talk in the game, but his goofy grin makes it look like he is just waiting for the right moment to say something unintelligible. Not to mention, his jump is annoying, causing him to float a little too long on poorly designed levels. He’s also incredibly weak and uses a yo-yo to attack enemies.
However, the worst thing about the Noid is that he likely ruined what would have been a much cooler ninja game called Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru. Pizza was tacked on afterward.
14 CD-i Link
“Well, excuuuuse me, Princess.”
Okay, CD-i Link isn’t as bad as cartoon Link, but he certainly comes close. The, usually, silent protagonist is actually given a voice, and it is awful. The cartoon cutscenes look like something a 10-year-old kid could create on Kid Pix.
The dialogue is embarrassingly corny, particularly Link's. Anyone else just can’t wait to bomb some dodongos? Didn’t think so. The best thing about silent Link is that everyone has their own idea about who he is. The CD-i games take that power, that ideal image of Link, from us and leave us with a protagonist that is a couple of DLC packs short of a complete game. A hopeless teenager who happens to fall into quests instead of proactively seeking them out.
Lucky for us, this weird anomaly from the Zelda universe has faded into obscurity.
13 Vanille—Final Fantasy XIII
Overall, Final Fantasy is a solid franchise with a lot of annoying little problems, and Vanille is one of them. When you first meet her, you might think that she is adorably cute and positive. However, in reality, she is more like a skunk, intriguing from afar but get too close and you will wind up spending your Friday night bathing in tomato sauce to wash away the stench.
Final Fantasy has a problem with creating one-note characters, the hopeful helper, the annoying buddy, the pessimistic protagonist, etc. Vanille is the childlike beacon of hope, pigtails and all, but is oddly sexualized (she moans a lot). Her accent is weird and inconsistent. Seriously, her delivery is so awkward that her voice actually breaks the immersion of the game. Even her run is annoying. She looks like a little girl plodding through a puddle.
Vanille is so sweet that she’ll hurt your teeth.
12 Raiden—Metal Gear Solid 2
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty may go down in history as the greatest troll of all time. All the trailers and demos leading up to its release prominently featured Snake doing what he does best—shooting and sneaking. This was going to be a bigger, better Metal Gear, and fans were hyped.
However, the excitement didn’t last for long. The game opens with players controlling Snake, but soon another character takes his place. A less intimidating guy with flowing hair and a face that belongs on the cover of a J-pop album.
Sure, Raiden ends up becoming ultra cool later on, and Metal Gear Solid 2 is still a great game, but the whiny, lovestruck manchild was not what we were expecting at the time.
11 Johnny Cage—Mortal Kombat (All Of Them)
Johnny Cage is a quintessential d-bag—cocky, always in sunglasses, and full of catchphrases. He even has his name tatted on his chest. He is the only character in the Mortal Kombat series that makes me want to sucker punch him in the face. Speaking of sucker punches, he actually has a move where he hits the splits and punches his opponent in the groin. No wonder he is always getting killed.
Even his reason for participating in the tournament is disgusting. The washed up actor wanted to show the world that he is skilled fighter capable of doing his own stunts. He wasn’t there to protect Earthrealm; he was there to save his lavish lifestyle and career. In fact, he doesn’t believe the other fighters are real until he is ordered to kill Baraka, and with the way he hits on Sonya, you just know he is a catcaller.
10 Lester—Lester The Unlikely
Lester the Unlikely starts off promising enough. The geeky comic book lover falls asleep beside some cargo and is, unsurprisingly, loaded onto a ship. Pirates randomly hijack the ship, but Lester escapes and manages to swim to the shore of a random island.
Wow! He sounds badass!
Spoiler alert: he’s not. Lester is Urkel on steroids. His attack is a weak, cowardly kick. He is afraid of everything—crabs, turtles, and even totem poles. In fact, every time he approaches a new enemy, you lose control of him as he runs away with flailing arms.
He is so weak that he makes basic platforming actions like dropping down or pulling yourself up a ledge look harder than they really are. Not to mention, these basic actions—unless you inch and scoot your way through levels—will cause him damage.
They should have called the game Lester the Unlikable.
9 Duke Nukem—Duke Nukem Forever
Remember that episode of 30 Rock when Steve Buscemi plays a private detective recalling one of his past missions, and they flashback to his “successful infiltration” of a high school—backward hat, skateboard, and all? Yeah, Duke Nukem is the, “How do you do, fellow kids?” of the gaming world. He just tries too hard to be relevant and cool.
In his most recent title, Duke Nukem Forever, instead of giving gamers witty one-liners or offering a unique perspective on action hero cliches, we get an aging Duke who drops gems like, “Size only matters when you’re full grown, baby!” Duke could have been funny. He could have pushed the envelope in an insightful, self-reflective South Park way—and still kept the toilet humor.
The most annoying thing about Duke Nukem is his unnecessary resurrection and tragic fall from grace.
8 Woody—Wild Woody
Here we have yet another character that was created in hopes of being as successful as Mario and Sonic. Of course, it’s kind of hard to become a household name when you make your debut on the ill-fated Sega CD in a game called Wild Woody.
Wild Woody is, you guessed it, another platforming game with an edgy protagonist—a pencil. Yeah, you read that right. He erases enemies with his butt because, you know, that’s how pencils work. He also draws dynamite and hurls it at his enemies. In case you’ve forgotten, dynamite is hip. All the cool kids are doing it. On top of all of this, he is obnoxiously loud and randomly does hackneyed impersonations (his pirate voice is particularly earsplitting).
Wild Woody could have worked if it was a parody of the practice of creating Mario and Sonic clones, making fun of over-the-top, coooler-than-life protagonists.
7 Nathan Drake—Uncharted
I know Elena gets a lot of flack from gamers—especially in the first Uncharted—but Nathan Drake is so much worse. He is a bore. There, I said it. There is nothing special about him. He is just an ordinary guy in an extraordinary world. An everyman who is meant to appeal to everyone but truly resonate with no one.
You can’t mention PlayStation without someone stuffing him down your throat. Yes, he is palatable, but so is vodka. Too much and you’ll be praising the porcelain god, swearing you will never drink again. That’s what Drake is, a bad choice on a Friday night. Yes, the Uncharted series is great, but imagine how much better it would be without Drake’s wisecracks, or if he had just one flaw to make him feel more human. Overall, Drake is a flat, underdeveloped character in a pretty good game.
6 Gex The Gecko—Gex: Enter The Gecko
Gex is a gecko, and he has sunglasses, so you know he’s cool. Also, he’s a reptile, and according to the rules of the 90s, all anthropomorphic reptiles are awesome because: Ninja Turtles. Crystal Dynamics’ former mascot is also obsessed with television and constantly makes pop culture references as you navigate his 3D world. Initially, you might chuckle at his references to Boy George or Fox Mulder’s sister. You might even find his jokes hilarious. After all, he is voiced by the comedian Dana Gould.
However, the longer you play, the more annoying these one-liners become because there just aren’t enough of them. Before you clear a level you’ll hear Gex say, “Forget about it!” so much that you might actually listen, turn off the game, and play something less annoying, like Super Mario 64.
5 Bubsy—Bubsy 3D: Furbitten Planet
When Sonic hit the scene in 1991, he spin-dashed into our hearts and to the top of the sales charts. Developers everywhere noticed the changing tides and decided to steer into the storm, creating enough Sonic clones to fill a landfill. They had everything 90s kids wanted bright colors, addictive music, and edgy protagonists.
What could possibly go wrong?
Bubsy. Bubsy is what could go wrong. To help set him apart from popular heroes like Sonic and Mario, they gave Bubsy a voice. Why, oh why did they give him a voice and such an annoying catchphrase? Not only is Bubsy's voice grating, but he also comments on literally everything—even the chapter titles. He drops more one-liners, wisecracks, and pop culture references than he does enemies. He is so 90s that he actually becomes a caricature of the decade itself.
Oh, and he’s getting a new game.
4 Tidus—Final Fantasy X
The delightfully dumb, star blitzball player of the Zanarkand Abes was Square’s attempt to find a balance between overly moody or cheerful protagonists. He isn’t shy about telling everyone in Spira about his athletic feats or his tragic past. He also constantly whines and complains about his “old man.” Yeah, the hatred is so deep that he can’t even call him “dad.” Talk about teenage angst.
Tidus is also cocky and childlike. His inability to fit in or follow social norms puts him in a lot of awkward situations. He wasn’t born to be a hero, so he is learning on the job. The story isn’t even really about him (although he insists it is). It is about Yuna. He’s just along for the ride.
And his laugh! It’s so infamously obnoxious that someone created a mod that replaced most of the game’s audio with his laugh.
Enjoy at your own risk.
3 Larry Lovage—Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude
Larry Lovage, the nephew of former protagonist Larry Laffer, is nothing more than an empty shell. Like his uncle before him, Larry Lovage is on a mission to get laid. Well, to earn mementos that prove he is an experienced lover so he can appear on a dating show.
That sounds easy enough until you realize he is no Larry Laffer. He lacks wit, and his humor is too obvious and on the nose. In order to seduce women, he has to get them wasted. He is that much of a loser—and a creep. Then, when it finally does come time for him to seal the deal, he often chickens out and jumps out a window.
Much like Raiden, Larry Lovage is annoying for being unable to fill the shoes of his predecessor.
2 Adam Jensen—Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Adam Jensen is the protagonist of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Mankind Divided. He is like a bad boy, action hero collage gone wrong. First, observe the sunglasses. Earlier entries have taught us all we need to know about heroes in sunglasses. Avoid them. Now, observe his I-am-the-savior-of-the-Matrix ensemble and gruff voice.
To be cool in the 90s, you had to be loud, controversial and obnoxious. In the 2000s, a stereotypically cool character is dark, moody, mysterious, and still obnoxious. The worst thing about Adam Jensen is the voice acting. He sounds like the True Value version of Clint Eastwood, as if he is seconds away from asking us, “Do you feel lucky punk?” No, no we don’t.
Jensen’s most famous line is, “I didn’t ask for this.” Well, we didn’t ask for a talking protagonist, but here we are.
1 Jason Brody—Far Cry 3
Jason Brody, Far Cry 3’s protagonist, is nothing more than a spoiled rich kid out to have some fun. I mean, he and his brothers decide to go skydiving on Rooks Island because a random DJ tells them that it is an island where they can do anything they want. This sounds like the perfect place for an immature guy with a god complex. Of course, they get kidnapped by pirates.
Like many of the other annoying heroes on this list, Jason comes complete with pop culture references and lame jokes. Even worse, his brother, Grant, was an Army Reservist who would have been a much more compelling and believable protagonist. Finally, Jason is a sociopathic asshole who thinks killing is winning. Being forced to endure this super bro and his jacked up morals is probably the worst thing about an otherwise good game.