There are a lot of iconic characters in gaming, from Halo’s Master Chief to the blue overalled plumber himself. It can be easy to latch on to these well-known names, but there are quite a few memorable characters that don’t play a massive role in the game’s story. In fact, some of these characters only show up for a few moments before disappearing, never to be seen during that playthrough again.
Yet, they leave an impression because they help to color the world. These characters are the exotic spices that leave an added dimension to the game without overstaying their welcome. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these characters in some form or another. Now let’s pull the curtain and introduce our first minor icon.
Beedle – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Beedle is the aptly named character from Breath of the Wild. He is a traveling merchant who carries his wares on his back which helps to give him a beetle-like appearance. He is exceptionally nice and maybe a little more timid than a Hyrule traveling merchant should be, but that only gives him additional charm.
He even has a little table that he will pull down when he is ready to get down to business, so he is essentially traveling with his own stall. It’s a really cute setup, and he always seems excited to talk about the goods he has to offer the player. I wish there was a quest I could do for this guy because he always brings a smile to my face when I see him marching up a hill — undeterred by the great weight that he bears.
Zote – Hollow Knight
Zote appears several times throughout Hollow Knight. The first time the player stumbles across this little fighter is when he is the mandibles of a giant bug. If the player tries to save Zote, they will have to fight the big bug, and then Zote will say that he had it all under control. But this won’t be the last time you find Zote. You will regularly find the bug in trouble or seemingly lost on his own adventure.
Zote will constantly belabor your achievements and boast about his own supposed triumphs. He will even go so far as to woo the girl who has her eye on The Knight (But that isn’t a huge loss). Zote is that curmudgeon that you love to hate and makes Hollownest feel a little bit more like a living world for his inclusion. Zote annoys me, but I will save him every single time if it means that he will have another chance to be my rival.
Gary – Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is known for its memorable side characters, but few are as in your face about themselves as Gary. Gary was a vault dweller who was cloned as a part of Vault 108’s experiments which resulted in over 50 Garys being created. The Garys are anything but nice and will hunt down the player while yelling their own name, “Oh Gaaary,” over and over. It can be a surreal experience, but it helps to illustrate the twisted world of Fallout.
The tale of multiple Garys goes even further because one Gary was kidnapped by the Outcast in order to get a Pip-Boy. The Pip-Boy wouldn’t come off, so the Outcast members had to resort to more violent means of procuring the technology. Gary would end up losing his arm and would lead to another infamous tale from the wasteland.
Carmine – Gears of War
If you only played the first Gears of War, Carmine might not stick out to you by name. He was the first-named casualty after Marcus reconnected with COG forces. The first, Carmine is taken out by a bullet to the neck after complaining about his jammed gun. His role in the game was short, but his legacy would stretch the franchise because it turns out his entire family is involved with the military.
The second Carmine is eaten alive by some wormy grubs in Gears of War 2, and this one hits home a little harder since he had been traveling with Marcus’s squad for a little while by then. However, by Gears 3, the legacy of Carmine was known by everyone, and Clayton will be the first member of the family to make it out of combat time and time again. The Carmine legacy is one of death and loyalty to humanity, and I love the sense of duty that these soldiers bring to the COG forces.
Nurse Joy – Pokemon
If there is an unsung hero in the Pokemon games, it’s definitely Nurse Joy. The only medical professional in the series will heal your entire team and won’t expect a dime in return. Without her, you would have probably been out of luck after you took your level 9 Charmander in Brock’s gym the first time.
It amazes me that after so many appearances in the games that she hasn’t had much more character building or purpose within the games. Other RPGs would have expanded on a returning character like her by now, but I guess we will have to live with the information that we get from the anime. I just hope she doesn’t judge me for my training techniques.
Space Core – Portal 2
Wheatly gets a lot of the attention in Portal 2 for being the premier talking orb, but Portal 2 introduced more than just Wheatly the core into the mix. One of the standout cores was the space core — a core that is fixated on…space. However, the core isn’t Stephen Hawking or Neil deGrasse Tyson in Orb form. It isn’t very articulate at all, actually.
The space core is more like a puppy who gets excited about space and can’t say anything else but “space.” This core shows the wackiness of Aperture Science while also playing into one of Valve’s best and most complete endings to date when the Space core is sucked up into the vacuum of space with Wheatly at the end of the game. The two stuck with each other forever, but I’m sure Space core can die happy now.
Wizard – Stardew
Stardew Valley is filled with wonderful characters, but the one that stands out the most has to be the Wizard. A strange wizard lives out in the forest all alone in a castle, but nobody seems to question it. He offers you advice and even a magic potion that allows you to communicate with spirits in the community center.
Later in the game, you learn that he was married to a witch, as has his own little backstory. The Wizard’s presence opens up a whole can of worms for the game, being that magic is a thing. He is the most important character in a sense since he gives the player access to skills they otherwise would never have. He is the silent observer of the town, but he seems to have the community’s best intentions at heart, so that is all that really matters. Maybe one day we will learn if Abigail is his daughter too.
Silas – The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds introduces us to a lot of characters during its playtime, but the most striking is one of the first ones that you are likely to run into. That’s because Silas is not only memorable for being a Gravedigger for the town of Edgewater but what he teaches the player about The Outer Worlds. He has to haul corpses that are often sick with the plague, and he also goes around and collects grave fees.
That’s right, grave fees because the people of Edgewater need to pay when they die, and they need to reserve a spot until then. Not only is Silas’s nonchalant speech about death and the societal norms of Edgewater lighthearted and dark at the same time, but they help to serve as a first impression of the colony world. Whenever I think of The Outer Worlds, I think of Silas toiling away with corpses in an apocalyptic capitalist society.
Mark G. Meltzer – Bioshock 2
Bioshock 2 introduces a lot of minor characters through audio diaries. The diaries help to give the player a sense of Rapture before, during, and after its fall, and the best series of diaries are the ones by Mark G. Meltzer. Mark’s daughter was abducted, and Mark realized that she was taken to Rapture. He takes a sub and begins to explore the ruins of the city. We follow his adventure through the logs and learn another person’s reaction to the situation happening in Rapture.
From the “genetic wonder drug” to the tragic fate of the Big Daddies and Little Sisters, Mark’s perception of this horrific world becomes more and more bleak as he progresses. It’s a story that represents the horrors of Rapture and shows that it’s not just Subject Delta that is suffering but that there are other people who are being affected by Ryan’s dystopia and lamb’s acquisition of power. Eventually, Mark swears he will save his daughter, but we hear his final recorded audio diary where he is captured by a Big Sister. Finally, Lamb makes a recording giving Mark a chance to become a Big Daddy and stay by his daughter’s side forever. There are few stories in Rapture that reach the same level of tragedy as Mark Meltzer’s.
Sergeant Johnson – Halo: Combat Evolved
You might think that Sergeant Johnson is a major character in Halo now, but when Combat Evolved was first released, barely anyone knew this character by name. Johnson can be seen several times throughout Halo, most notably at the beginning when he is addressing the marine forces preparing for the incoming Covenant fleet and at the end where he should have died hugging that Elite while the Pillar of Autumn exploded.
This character was so memorable for Bungie that they wanted to make him a more important character to the story and flesh out his personality more. He was brought back from the dead because he was such a great minor character to the original Halo. Talk about powerful first impressions. If only Foe Hammer could have come back too.