Sometimes, video game characters are clearly doomed from the start. No matter what, whether it be through flashbacks and flash forwards, context clues, or knowing the tropes being used, the fates of some characters are set in stone and can’t be changed. Gamers are often able to catch these signs almost from the first few missions of the game, giving them plenty of time to prepare themselves from the pain and heartbreak that’s about to be dealt out.
Though there are some characters clearly set up to die that receive no sympathy, more often than not characters that fall under this category are beloved by just about everyone, making their deaths some of the saddest deaths in video game history. The clues pointing to their deaths are apparent from the start, giving players time to prepare themselves for the heartbreak to come.
10 Noble 6 (Halo: Reach)
Few doomed characters are more prominent than Noble 6, the player character in Halo: Reach. Its opening shows everyone his fate, revealing his broken helmet resting on the charred remains of the destroyed planet. From that moment, it was obvious there’d be no escaping the doomed world.
This opening establishes Noble 6’s doom immediately. The longer the game progresses, the more it becomes apparent. The Covenant quickly conquers Reach and picks off the rest of Noble Team one by one. The tragedy of Reach is referenced in later games, but anyone who’s heard the story knows almost no one makes it off the planet alive.
9 Nariko (Heavenly Sword)
Nariko in Heavenly Sword is doomed to die thanks to the curse on one of the best video game swords. Sometimes, a character’s fate is sealed thanks to handling a cursed object that kills whoever uses it. Nariko is forced to wield the titular weapon near the start of the game, and that seals her fate because the sword quickly kills anyone who uses it.
Nariko’s chances of survival don’t exactly improve from there. Even before players see her pick up the Heavenly Sword, they are treated to a cutscene for an upcoming battle where the sword finishes draining her life force. It’s a fate that’s more or less set in stone right at the start, and even at the end of the game when it seems like Nariko might live, she still must give her life to satisfy the blade’s thirst for blood, a fate given to her almost from the moment players meet her.
8 Thane (Mass Effect 2)
There’s a reason why the Mass Effect franchise is so beloved, and that’s due to all the amazing characters the game uses. Unfortunately, not every one of the best characters in the Mass Effect franchise gets to survive all the way to the end of the trilogy. Sadly, in the case of the assassin Thane, his eventual death is not only unavoidable, but obvious from the start.
From the moment Shepard meets him in Mass Effect 2, Thane reveals that he has a terminal illness, which is why he agrees to go on Shepard’s suicide mission. From this moment, Thane is on the clock. Though the illness doesn’t hinder his abilities in the game, it starts to slow him down in the following one. Sadly, this leads to his passing after he gives his life to save others, leading to a heartbreaking scene where the player stays with the beloved character in his final moments.
7 Bumblebee (Transformers: Fall Of Cybertron)
Even fan favorite characters like Bumblebee, one of the best Transformers characters of all time, can be doomed at the start of a game, as was the case for this brave scout in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. In the very first mission, which takes place days after the main events of the game, Bumblebee sacrifices himself to save Optimus Prime from Megatron.
At first glance, this death may seem unexpected. But all the signs of Bumblebee dying are there. The dark tone of the game, evident from the fight going on all throughout the Ark during this mission, shows that anyone could die, a fact that continues throughout the game. Even promotional material for the game, which showed Bumblebee fatally wounded, spelled doom for him. Everything pointed to this version of Bumblebee not surviving the final escape from Cybertron.
6 Arthur Morgan (Red Dead Redemption 2)
The Red Dead Redemption franchise is no stranger to killing off characters, including the main characters like Arthur Morgan and John Marston. In Arthur’s case, however, his death was far more apparent even from the start of the game, where he contracts tuberculosis. The moment his diagnosis is revealed, his fate is sealed. The game even goes as far as to show his decline in health over the course of Red Dead Redemption 2.
From the moment Arthur knows he has tuberculosis, he and therefore the player knows that he’s done for. His fate is sealed, and nothing can be done to cure him. The technology simply doesn’t exist during the time period of the game. All players can do is continue on with the game and watch as Arthur slowly wastes away. Eagle-eyed players can even spot the exact moment Arthur contracts the disease, which comes towards the start of the game and shows that he was never going to make it out of the game alive.
5 Roland (Borderlands 2)
Sometimes, even player characters from a previous game in a franchise can wind up dying in another game. Such was the case of Roland, a former vault hunter and leader of the Crimson Raiders, in Borderlands 2. And, unfortunately, his death can be predicted from the start of the game thanks to how the franchise maintains its side quests.
Side quests can be done at any time, which is also why Borderlands 2 is one of the longest FPS games of all time. This means a good indicator that a character is going to die is if they don’t give out any side quests. Sadly, Roland personally doesn’t give out any side quests, with the only quest from him coming from a pre-recorded message. That alone was enough evidence to show that there was no hope for him, even though the exact moment of his death took many completely by surprise.
4 Colonel Arnold (Supreme Commander)
Colonel Arnold served as the player’s mentor throughout the first half of the UEF campaign in Supreme Commander. Unfortunately, being a grizzled war veteran and mentor for the player pretty much spelled doom for him right from the start of one of the best RTS games of all time, a fact that was proven right when he meets his end later in the game thanks to a common trope in storytelling.
In many stories, it’s common that the mentor to the character will wind up dying, even more so if the mentor is a war veteran. Colonel Arnold fulfilled both of these traits, and thus, he was instantly set up to die. The nature of his death depends on what campaign the player is following, but no matter what, there’s nothing that can be done to save his life. Arnold is doomed to die, something that’s painfully obvious in a story as simple as Supreme Commander‘s is.
3 Batman (Batman: Arkham Knight)
There are many harsh realities of replaying the Batman: Arkham games, including having to deal with the ending of Arkham Knight where Batman is seemingly killed in an explosion at Wayne Manor. However, Batman was doomed from the very start of the game, as Jim Gordon narrates that the story that is to come is “how the Batman died.”
A character’s doom doesn’t always take the form of physical death. In Batman’s case, the mantle of Batman was lost the moment his identity was revealed to be Bruce Wayne. This revelation doomed him all the same though, as his closest allies would be put into grave danger now that everyone knew who he was. Thus, Gordon’s words at the start of the game serve as a clear indication that Batman as Gotham knew him would be gone for good by the end of the game.
2 Nathan Hale (Resistance 2)
While Resistance 2 may feel like a Resident Evil spinoff at times, the game takes place in a completely different universe and involves fighting aliens that infect humans with a virus that mutates and transforms them. This virus and its infection within Nathan Hale more or less seals his fate.
Hale was part of a secret project to infect soldiers with the virus to make them super soldiers. Unfortunately, he needs inhibitors to keep the virus from completely taking him over. When he misses these inhibitors in Resistance 2, his doom was assured, and he succumbs to the virus over the course of the game. Nothing can be done to save him from the fate that he was bound to reach the instant players saw what was going on with him.
Solid Snake may be one of the best video game characters of all time, but that doesn’t save him from a deadly fate that he is doomed for from the start. Snake has within him the FOXDIE virus, something that will eventually kill him in an unknown amount of time. This means that, at some point in the future, Snake will die.
While Snake doesn’t actually die in the main video games of the franchise, his death is all but certain. There’s no cure for FOXDIE, and the cloning process further shortened his lifespan. Thus, he doesn’t have much longer to live by the time Metal Gear Solid 4 takes place. But thanks to previous installments already revealing that Snake is doomed no matter what, the beloved character’s tragic end is inevitable, whether it will take place on-screen or off.
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