Attachment to the characters we meet in our video games is a common occurrence, and when a beloved character is torn from us violently, it can be pretty painful. We have struggled as, or alongside, these fictional creations for hours on end, sometimes across multiple games, which can make losing them a devastating blow to our emotional well-being. However, the fact that we are able to connect with them in this way makes their deaths impactful and their legacy even more memorable.
In homage, we’ve made a list of the top ten video game character deaths of this generation. This should go without saying, but there are massive spoilers ahead, and if you don’t want to have a particular plot point ruined for you, or if you’re just generally squeamish, you should probably turn back now. Otherwise, join us in saying “Rest in peace” to the dearly departed of gaming. (Major Spoilers Ahead)
Commander Shepherd (Mass Effect 3)
Through the Mass Effect trilogy, Commander Shepherd (or FemShep if you prefer) always has to make tough choices, sacrificing everything along the way for the good of the human race. He never has trouble with the ladies, either.
He dies onboard the Citadel, after making a choice between destroying the Reapers, controlling them, or becoming one himself. No matter which option the player chooses, Shepherd will die, which is part of why so many fans had issues with the close of the Mass Effect series.
Commander, we salute you.
Joker (Batman: Arkham City)
Almost as long as there has been a Batman, there has been a Joker. The Yin to Batman’s Yang, The Clown Prince of Crime is the other half of the balance of power in Gotham. As Batman’s archenemy, the Joker has been portrayed across all forms of media, from comics and movies to television and video games.
In Batman: Arkham City, Joker has been sick for some time due to the ridiculous amount of Titan he took at the end of Arkham Asylum. In the game’s final confrontation, he attacks Batman, knocking the cure to the ground and losing it forever. Good job, buddy.
Noble Six (Halo: Reach)
Noble Team had it rough from the first moment they landed on Reach. Throughout the story of Halo: Reach, they suffered multiple losses, always falling back and trying to gain footing against the Covenant forces. In fact, Noble Six is the only member of Noble Team to survive to the bitter end.
At the end of Reach, Noble Six valiantly takes up a gun emplacement, fighting off the hordes of the Covenant to ensure the escape of the Pillar of Autumn. After a hard-fought battle, Six finally succumbs to the onslaught of Covenant forces, while ensuring the survival of Cortana and paving the way for the events of the original Halo.
Mordin Solus (Mass Effect 3)
Mordin Solus is one of the squad-mates introduced in Mass Effect 2. Although he can be pretty annoying in the beginning, Mordin will eventually grow on you. In fact, by the end of Mass Effect 2, he emerges as one of the standout characters in the series, one who approaches every problem with analytical curiosity.
Mordin was involved in the modification of the Genophage, a dormant disease created by the Salarians to control the population of the Krogan race. To atone for his past, when the opportunity arises for him to redeem himself on the Krogan homeworld of Tuchanka, he takes it. He feels compelled to right the wrong he committed all those years ago as a member of the STG. He takes it like a champ, singing all the way to his death.
Desmond Miles (Assassin’s Creed III)
Through the Animus, we’ve stepped into the shoes of the greatest assassins of all time. Altaïr, Ezio, and Conner are the characters that get most of the credit, but Desmond is the one who ties them all together. We have watched him evolve from the scared and oblivious Desmond of the first Assassin’s Creed to the confident and capable Desmond of Assassin’s Creed III. Not to mention that he picked up some awesome assassin skills along the way.
At the end of Assassin’s Creed III, Desmond has a choice between letting the Earth burn (courtesy of a solar flare), or protecting it from the flare by releasing an ancient being named Juno who will cause issues for humanity later. He chooses to save the planet and deal with Juno later, but is killed when he grabs the console to release her.
Big Boss (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots)
Big Boss’s long and arduous military career is the stuff of legend. Interwoven throughout the Metal Gear mythos, Big Boss has played an integral role in the events of the series, most importantly being the genetic “father” of Solid Snake.
In Metal Gear Solid 4, when Big Boss finally comes into contact with Solid Snake, it proves to be the final death blow to the icon. Though he is a clone, the tearful goodbye between Solid Snake and Big Boss is heartfelt, and he acknowledges Solid Snake as a brother on the battlefield.
Lee Everett (The Walking Dead)
Few games this generation have the emotional impact of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. Lee Everett, a man with a checkered past, takes on the role of caretaker to a young girl, Clementine. Time and time again, Lee launches himself into harm’s way to protect those he cares about, and sometimes even those he doesn’t.
Throughout the five-episode season, an emotional bond forms between Lee and Clem that borders on both camaraderie and paternity. Lee’s fatherly instincts aside, he admits that Clementine has saved his life almost as much as he has saved hers. The game’s final scene is gut-wrenching, and though many variations are possible, Lee sacrifices himself so that Clem might live.
John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
John Marston had done some pretty bad things in his former life as an outlaw, and in Red Dead Redemption his past catches up to him. The West is being cleaned up as the government is hunting down the gangs that plague the countryside. Edgar Ross is the man in charge of all this, and he decides that the best way to accomplish this is to bring in a former member of the gang to hunt them down. In the end, Ross kidnaps Marston’s family, forcing John to comply.
At the end of the game, John sends his family away before the shootout at the Marston ranch. When he emerges from his barn to meet his would-be executioners, he is ready to sacrifice himself for his wife and son. Not one to just lay down and die, Marston draws on them, taking out as many as possible. Sadly, he is hopelessly outnumbered and falls to the ground, riddled with gunshot wounds.
I think we can all agree that John Marston died a good death.
Dominic “Dom” Santiago (Gears of War 3)
Marcus and Dom have been friends for years, long before we met them in Gears of War. Always alongside Marcus, no matter the circumstances, Dom was a great friend and a true wingman. In short, this “bromance” was an undeniable fan favorite.
In Gears of War 3, during a fueling stop at Mercy (Dom’s dead wife Maria’s home town), Dom finds himself separated from the team during an attack. Unable to rejoin his friends and realizing the battle is all but hopeless, Dom does what all heroes do: He saves the day.
Cpt. John “Soap” MacTavish (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3)
Call of Duty has seen its fair share of loss, but no loss is more notable than that of Soap MacTavish. Soap was first introduced into the Call of Duty universe in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare as a sergeant in the 22nd S.A.S Regiment. Since then, through Modern Warfare 2 and 3, we watched him grow into the badass we know and love.
In Modern Warfare 3, Soap gets himself in a jam after saving Yuri from an explosion and falling several stories to what would be an immediate death for anyone else. He is seriously injured, and he must depend on Cpt. Price and Yuri to get him to safety. They finally do, but it’s too late, and Soap dies on the table of a random building.
Goodbye Soap, you were a true hero.