It's kind of hard to believe that it's been 7 years since we got a proper Borderlands sequel (not counting The Pre-Sequel, because no one should count The Pre-Sequel). Even though the series is ostensibly a game about shooting people in the face, and experiencing various unique forms of scatological humor, there actually is a decent amount of story in the series. Along with that story, there's a pretty massive cast of characters returning for the third installment.
If you're a Borderlands newbie, or it's just been a while and you can't remember who any of these murderers are, it can be hard to understand why any of these characters matter. So for your convenience, here's a quick rundown of all your returning, trigger-happy friends.
Lilith is the leader of the Crimson Raiders, a title she inherited when previous leader, Roland, was killed in the last game. She's also one of the Sirens, who are women who get all kinds of crazy cosmic powers, as well as some funky glowing tattoos. She goes by the nickname "The Firehawk", due to her being able to essentially turn into a hawk made of fire. When this game starts, she's trying to find a map to a powerful Vault, while also trying to stomp out a crazy cult called the Children Of The Vault.
Everyone's favorite (or most hated) reoccurring rectangular robot is back to either delight or annoy you throughout the game. He's pathetic, needy, and greedy, yet he's pretty much the mascot of this series. Also, he may sound a little bit different for some icky non-game related reasons.
Brick was one of the original Vault Hunters from the first Borderlands. He's a meathead who mostly follows Lilith's orders. He's kind of dumb, and he's a big fan of punching things. If the trailer is anything to go by, he may also now have a sweet moustache, and can play the saxophone.
This guy has been around since the start, and is the one who drives the bus that first picks you up and drops you off at your first mass killing spree location. He sells you guns at exorbitant prices, and sends you off on dangerous missions that mostly only benefit him. Oh, and now he has a sweet ponytail.
Mordecai is the final surviving Vault Hunter from the original game, along with Lilith, and Brick. He's mainly known for being a great shot, and a pretty lousy drunk. His bird and best friend Bloodwing was killed by Handsome Jack in Borderlands 2, so he's since taken up the responsibility of raising a new bird, and has also given up drinking.
One of the foremost hunters and explorers on Pandora. He's a classy, upstanding, British gentleman, who occasionally is known to utter words like "bonerfarts."
Lady Aurelia Hammerlock
If you slogged through The Pre-Sequel, you might remember this character as The Baroness, who was added in as DLC. She's also the sister of Sir Hammerlock, so expect a friendly/deadly sibling rivalry between the two.
After Scooter was sadly jettisoned into the vast emptiness of space in Tales From The Borderlands, Ellie has taken over the Catch-A-Ride business. Ellie is the one who will provide you with vehicles to traverse the wastelands. She's also fond of elaborate, Saw-esque murder traps for bandits.
The mother of Ellie, as well as the dearly departed Scooter, and possibly dozens of others, Moxxi is the bombshell that runs her own tavern for the weary travelers on Pandora. There's also a good chance that in the downtime between games she's come across another husband or two. Or six.
The insane scientist is back, likely to give more exposition, spout more semi-scientific jargon, and insult both your intelligence, and what you're wearing. She's fun.
A Vault Hunter from Borderlands 2, Maya is also a Siren who possesses great power and cool tattoos. As Borderlands 3 starts up, she's acquired a new apprentice, so she's essentially a sexy Yoda now.
Also a Vault Hunter from the second game, Zero is some kind of cool robo-ninja man who only speaks in haikus and the weird emojis that project out of his helmet.
The hyperactive murder-child has now grown up into a hyperactive murder-teenager. Regardless of whether you love her or hate her, she's probably going to help you blow something up.
The dweeb from Tales From The Borderlands shows up relatively early, and is still doing his best to be a bandit, despite his skillset being more suited for an office job.
After dealing with an implanted digital A.I. version of Handsome Jack, Rhys is currently the CEO and President of the Atlas Corporation. And like Claptrap, he may also sound a teensy bit different.
Hard to say whether this unqualified doctor shows up in the flesh in Borderlands 3, but his vending machines are present, so he's probably hiding around somewhere.
He gives you upgrades in exchange for eridium. He is also still crazy.
So that's everyone we know of for sure in the game, although Borderlands 3 massive, so it's highly likely that a few other characters are stashed away somewhere.
We don't know what became of Vault Hunters like Axton, Salvador, or Gaige, but we have to assume that they'll show up. Considering the rumors about Krieg The Psycho's possible connection to Tiny Tina, we sincerely hope that that particular bit of potential lore is touched on at some point. Athena and her fiance Janey are also probably going to make an appearance, possibly as a happily, or unhappily married couple.
We know that Rhys and Vaughn are in the game, but we have to wonder about the whereabouts of other important Tales From The Borderlands characters, like Fiona, Sasha, Gortys, and of course, Loaderbot. Especially Loaderbot.
Finally, there's the elephant in the room: Is Handsome Jack going to show up? He's dead and buried, and he's already made a small comeback as a hologram, but we have the sneaking suspicion that Gearbox might not be done with him yet. Maybe he'll be a voice on some old holotapes, or maybe they have an entire DLC campaign planned around his return. We just have a hard time believing he's truly gone.
There's bound to be a ton of secrets and cameos in Borderlands 3, so we can't wait to catch up with all our old pals.
But seriously though, Loaderbot better freaking be in there somewhere.