You'll wish they were in another castle
Quick, your loved one of indeterminate status is in trouble, and you must save them from the clutches of a dastardly villain! You struggle against the odds and through valiant and bloody effort you achieve victory. Finally, you get to hear your loved one say, "Congratulations hero, what took you so long? If I'd known I was gonna be here this long I would've brought a crossword!" Wait, no, that doesn't seem right
Don't worry, that dizzying bout of cognitive dissonance isn't just you. While games have had the [blank]-in-distress plotline on lockdown since Jumpman first rescued Pauline from not-King-Kong, sometimes a wrench gets thrown in the works that makes you feel disinclined to rescue the focus of your efforts. I don't mean independent folks who didn't really need rescuing please leave me alone now either - I'm talking characters who desperately need and/or straight up ask for assistance and then make you instantly regret your decision to help them. Need an example? Already have one in mind? Is it one of X characters I have listed in the slides beyond? Why don't we find out?
Rinoa (Final Fantasy VIII)
I can cut Rinoa some slack over having to be saved early in the FFVIII storyline, when she basically ruins your assassination attempt by getting herself mind-controlled. She was at least trying to help, right? I don't mind saving her from falling off Garden either, because it's not like she asked for the floor to collapse. But then I get irritated when I have to find out how to save her from some damn coma, and then space? Space? I have to rescue her from freaking SPACE?
Seriously, even if you get past Rinoa's horrible pick-up lines and still like her as a character, the amount of times you have to come to her rescue makes the effort feel futile. Yeah, I saved her from electrocuting herself on an open power panel, but then she's walking in the path of a moving train, or falling down a manhole, or getting attacked by killer bees. She does admittedly get a moment of redemption when she saves Squall from a giant spoiler, so maybe they're just goddamn perfect for each other and I need aspirin right this second.
Leslie (The Evil Within)
Somewhere between lighting nasty not-zombies on fire and trudging through gallons of misplaced viscera in The Evil Within, I was vaguely aware that I should be trying to rescue this kid named Leslie. He's the only patient to make it out of Beacon Mental Hospital, so he's plot-critical, and he's a defenseless kid running around a carnival of madness and so, so much blood. You honestly feel bad for him at first and want to make sure he's okay, because seriously a man in an iron mask with a bloody tank top and a cleaver just ran by dear God.
Your sympathy is pretty quickly tested though when you realize two things: Leslie does perfectly fine on his own, and you always get screwed over when you try to protect him. You can only watch this kid squeal away into the darkness, leaving you trapped behind a wall of monsters so many times before he starts to get on your nerves. Since his innocence and vulnerability is the only reason you're given to care about him, any attachment you might have quickly disintegrates when he leaves you locked in a room with Boxman HOLY FREAKING SLDKJFKLDS.
Young Ruto (Ocarina of Time)
Ruto deserves props for fitting that much moxie in one tiny body. When Link makes his way into the cavernous belly of pampered fish god Jabu-Jabu to rescue her at her father's request, she makes it clear that she doesn't want to be saved. I can respect that kind of independence - until ten seconds later, when she's totally interested in letting you save her. And you're gonna have to work for it by carrying her around like the world's smallest and luckiest palanquin team. Aren't you grateful? Aren't you?
What makes saving Ruto so teeth-crackingly annoying isn't the act itself ('save princesses' is right before 'buy milk' on Link's chore list), it's how spoilt she is about the whole thing. If you ever put her down, she tells you to be a man and take responsibility for her well-being. But then she'll command you to do things that put her in peril and continues to be a diva when you're forced to save her. Turns out this is a sign that she's crushing on you and isn't mature enough to express herself better, but you know what? She probably has cooties, so there.
Slippy Toad (Star Fox)
If you're a Star Fox 64 fan, you may remember Slippy Toad from the constant screech of "Whoooa, help me!" that echoes through the darkness of your nightmares. As the 'adorable' screw-up amongst the Star Critter crew, Slippy has a nasty habit of having a bogey on his tail 99% of the time, and he never seems to be able to handle it on his own. You can only hear him thank you for saving him so many times before your dentist has to prescribe you anti-grind jaw braces.
While Slippy certainly has the drive to be a badass Arwing marksman, there's no accounting for raw skill, which he distinctly lacks. That ends with a lot of crying to Fox and the rest of the team for help, all while they're kinda busy at the moment not getting blown up by the exact same enemies. It wouldn't even be a big deal if you only had to bail him out a few times (Falco and Peppy certainly don't have perfect records), but the fact is that it happens all the damn time and he never learns! When even your own teammates are loudly pointing out that suck at your job, you know there's a problem.
Elise (Sonic 2006)
If Sonic '06 had blessedly failed to exist and Princess Elise appeared in some mediocre but hedgehog-less JRPG, she might've been bearable. Her entire personality could be boiled down to 'girl who doesn't cry because magic', but at least every moment she's on screen wouldn't get you one step closer to zoophilic snogging. But sadly, Sonic '06 happened, the Sonic/Elise romance is as real as it is so, so wrong, and every moment we have to spend saving Elise feels like pure torture.
Credit where credit is due, she's at least grateful to her knight in shining quills, so she won't have you snapping your controller in hatred over her snobbishness. But still, her tendency to get kidnapped by the same guy over and over again to goad the plot along gets old pretty much instantly. Plus, every time you sigh deeply and re-rescue her, your reward is watching a cutesy love scene between her and Sonic, each more vomit-inducing than the last. Okay Eggman, you can have her as long as I don't have to watch things get bestial. Please. Please.
Roman Bellic (GTA 4)
If you're like me, the words, "Hey cousin!" make you immediately crush anything you happen to be holding (which explains the coffee burns) as The Dark Times flash through your mind. That's not just because Roman has an annoying desire for constant family time either, but because he needs to be saved from himself way too freaking often. Spending all his money on back alley poker tables is a sign of a gambling problem. Gambling away so much than his cousin has to repeatedly save him from brass-knuckled goons is a sign of something way worse.
Perhaps more than anyone else on this list, going to Roman's rescue is annoying as hell because the trouble is his own fault and, unlike Ruto, he's a goddamn adult. From the moment he sets foot on American soil, Niko has to start rescuing Roman from gang members trying to aerate his guts, and it just gets worse as time goes on. He even has to bail Roman out of gambling trouble with one mob while they're on the run from a different mob. And yeah, maybe Niko gets him into some trouble too, but you know what? Screw you cousin! I love you and I want to smack you.
The Council (Mass Effect)
You know that cranky dad character who shows up in way too many lives movies, who's impossible to please despite every effort to break through his shell of cigar smoke and disappointment? The Council in Mass Effect is a bit like that, except there's no silent nod of acknowledgement before the credits roll to show that you dun good, kid. Thwarting the plans of a planet-hopping psychopath? Keeping giant cuttlefish robots from murdering every organic being in the known galaxy? Saving their asses after they refused to listen to a single thing you said? Yeah, fine, but you could've done it better.
Even when you go so Paragon you make Mother Teresa look stingy, the Council is intent on nitpicking everything you do and pointing out that you did something wrong, however minuscule it may be. Their attitude is so infuriating that when the time comes to choose between saving them from the Reapers and letting them die, you kind of want to go with the latter just because they're assholes and you hate them. It's almost like BioWare did that on purpose or something.
Find your own way out
Those are the most annoying, useless, aggravating game characters you'd rather leave for dead than rescue. Which of these characters do you hate the most? Did I miss someone incredibly, egregiously awful? Can you even think about those questions through the headache these characters have probably caused you? Tell me in the comments below, then maybe go have a lie down.
Want to hear about some bearable characters after all that frustration? Check out 14 game characters we (seriously) fell in love with and 15 sidekicks who deserve their own game.