5 Game Villains You Should Feel Bad For

A lair befitting a homicidal robot woman

Who doesn't love to hate a good villain?

As Batman once said, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Many villains are certain that they’re in the right—that they know how to save the world and make it a better place.

After enough shady decisions, they’ve descended into villainy and must be stopped by a chipper protagonist.

While villains are generally hazardous to the state of the world, you have to remember that they were once normal people (or whatever species). That means that things aren’t always so black and white—perhaps they have some redeeming qualities.

Or maybe they just have something that makes you feel a little bit bad for them.

Let’s take a look at 5 video-game villains that I feel a little sorry for...

1. Bowser (Super Mario Bros. series)



Bowser is one of the most iconic villains from a video game series, right? How on earth could be redeemable or sympathetic? He’s a kidnapper who has lava and spike traps inside his house!

However, if you take a moment to remember that he used to go by the name “King Koopa,” things become a little more clear. Remember the seven Koopa Kids/Koopalings and Bowser Jr.?

Here come the Koopalings!

That’s right—Bowser is just a single dad who wants to find a mother figure for his children.

Bowser is known to be very proud of his children, and at one point, he tries to convince Mario that Peach is actually the mother of Bowser Jr.

In recent times, it’s been stated that the Koopa Kids aren’t actually Bowser’s kids, but that wasn’t the case for many of the games.

It’s obviously not okay to kidnap people, even if it is for your children. But maybe we should cut him a little slack from time to time. He just wants companionship, and honestly, who doesn’t?

2. Giovanni (Pokémon series)

Goggles and hovercraft are not included in the Villain Starter Kit.

Goggles and hovercraft are not included in the Villain Starter Kit.

Your character in the main Pokémon games (as in not including the Mystery Dungeon games and other such deviations) is 10 years old. Every time.

While that already seems highly irresponsible on the part of your character’s family, it also says a lot about the world around them.

Many of the gym leaders are teenagers, but there are plenty that are adults, too. The stores and Pokémon centers are run by adults, as are the police forces and other such necessary parts of society.

However, that means that Team Rocket and the other teams that staunchly play the villain roles are full of teenagers and adults.

Members of Team Rocket can come off as bullies or snobs at times. And they’re beating up people and taking their Pokémon. They’re stealing animals from children, in most cases.

But your character—the hero in this scenario—is a 10-year-old who goes on to defeat many various members of Team Rocket/Aqua/Magma/whatever and then to take down the leader of the organization itself.

Giovanni is first and foremost a business man. He runs his criminal organization very strategically. This is a large group of criminals operating under a leader who has solid, evil plans.

Yet your character—a pre-teen child—is able to successfully emerge victorious from not only this battle but also from their various hideouts.

I honestly just feel embarrassed for Giovanni, especially when you take the Pokémon television show into account.

Two of his worst henchmen are basically serving as the face of the organization while messing up everything they touch. He can’t even get one Pokémon from them. Like, not any single one of any kind of Pokémon. How sad is that?

What a disgrace.

3. Cia (Hyrule Warriors)

Don't mess with her. Seriously.

Don’t mess with her. Seriously.

For those of you who haven’t played Hyrule Warriors yet (shame on you!), Hyrule Warriors is a delicious blend of everything you love about the Legend of Zelda series and everything you love from the Samurai/Dynasty Warrior series. It’s a fun hack-and-slash that gives you the chance to explore Hyrule in ways you’ve never been able to before!

The character Cia is new to the Zelda multiverse. There are also a few other new characters, such as Wizzro and Volga, and nearly all of them are villains!

Cia will cross realms and fight other villains just to get what she wants. What’s your excuse?

Cia will cross realms and fight other villains just to get what she wants. What’s your excuse?

However, Cia is your primary game-changer. She might look a lot like eye candy—especially in that one cut scene where you see her boobs before you see her face—but she is not to be trifled with.

She seems to be working for Ganondorf, but she actually proves herself to be much more than a lackey.

Cia challenges his power and decides—to no one’s surprise—that she is better and stronger.

You're done for.

You’re done for.

So why should we feel bad for her? Well, it turns out she’s got a big old crush on Link.

She becomes incredibly jealous of Zelda and ends up growing corrupted by Ganondorf’s influence, hence why she kind of goes off the deep end.

Have you ever been so rejected that you don’t even make it into the trailer for the game?

I won’t spoil anything, but a lot of Cia’s actions are fed by this intense jealousy, to the point that you actually begin to see her side of the story.

She was actually a fairly normal person before, but her possessiveness over someone she’d never actually met in person grew into a deep-seated hatred with a desire for the power to make him hers.

Ever been green with envy? Can you imagine what you would be like if it consumed you completely? Being jealous can go away, but Cia’s took over her entire life, whether she wanted it to or not.

4. Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog series)



This is definitely showing my age, but Dr. Eggman had a way cooler name when I was growing up. So that means I feel bad for him for two different reasons!

According to various sources, though, the Slavic name “Robotnik” means “slave” or “worker.” So, I guess that’s not any better.

But regardless—growing up with the name Dr. Robotnik made me respect him. It felt like he was a genuine threat.

You’re just not a true villain until you have an evil grin.

You’re just not a true villain until you have an evil grin.

And now? Would you really like the shape of your body to be the main way people refer to you? He’s shaped like an egg, so he’s “Eggman,” hahahahahahaha.

What’s the other reason I feel bad for him? Because, like Giovanni, he is the mastermind of a corporation that is constantly being foiled by a group of teenagers. In some cases, it’s only one teenager.

Sonic has a real attitude problem and is clearly genetically better off than Eggman. It’s an uphill battle that will continue as long as Eggman wants to take over the world. Sigh.

He’s fighting against a creature with hyperspeed and a motor mouth—he really just can’t get a break!

Eggman in action

5. GLaDOS (Portal series)

And this is what we call an Alpha Female, folks.

And this is what we call an Alpha Female, folks.

If you have not completed the story of Portal 2, then I advise you to click away from this article and go elsewhere!

Okay, we good?

All right, so we know GLaDOS is lonely. She’s stuck in this test facility, and the most recent record we have of another person (as in someone other than Chell) being there is Rat Man—and we don’t even know how long ago that was.

So Chell, our protagonist, has been the only person in the Aperture facility for a very long time. But she was also asleep for the majority of that time. So all GLaDOS has been able to do is create new testing rooms and talk to herself.

Once you’ve finished Portal 2, you find out that GLaDOS is a victim of Aperture’s overzealous “we do what we must because we can” attitude. She was once a woman named Caroline, which you find out through various tapes in the game.

Cave Johnson is enthusiastic about science—too enthusiastic for anyone’s good.

I’m pretty sure we know who would be the villain in this series if he were still alive.

He was paying people to come test their elaborate, dangerous inventions, and he became too wrapped up in the corporation to care about how this was affecting people’s lives.

There is also a piece of something that was recorded but never included in the final game. It’s an audio file of Ellen McLain (GLaDOS’s voice actress) as Caroline, screaming. It was essentially deemed to be too rape-y, so it wasn’t part of the final product.

It is also worth noting that some eagle-eyed artists realized that GLaDOS’s body actually looks like a woman who has been tied up and is hanging down. This really drives home the fact that Caroline did not want this.

She did not want to live forever. She did not want to be trapped inside a building as a homicidal robot. She did not want to be stuck in the body of a potato.

GLaDOS thinks we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster.

Ultimately, GLaDOS is a lonely woman who had immortality forced upon her. And after all these years of defending herself and creating this harsh exterior, she seems to feels fondness toward Chell (even if she won’t admit it). She also can’t seem to help but be mean to her—it’s her only real way of existing now.

So she dishes out the snark and the fat jokes and the comments about Chell being an orphan. It isn’t until she has to be a potato for a while that some of the façade finally drops.

And I think the songs from the ends of the games say more than I possibly could on the subject! GLaDOS used killing as a main form of entertainment, but her tiny scrap of empathy for Chell makes it less fun.

She only wants Chell gone now. But really, can you blame her?

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Gamer Since: 1993
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Smite, Lollipop Chainsaw
Top 3 Favorite Games:Guild Wars 2, Torchlight II, Amnesia: The Dark Descent

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