Gaming's most facepalm-worthy heroes

Nobody in the real world is infallible, and regardless of their world-saving reputations that axiom is just as true for video game heroes. Whether by error of judgement, villainous manipulation, old-fashioned stupidity or tenuously dramatic plot device, it's a more than frequent occurance for them to almost throw victory straight into the dumper. Sometimes they even balls things up completely, gaining only a credits sequence worth of remorseful sobbing for their hours of superhuman efforts.

The list of heroic failures is a long and turgid one. Here are twelve of the most prominent incompetents.

Gordon Freeman (Half-Life)


Gordon Freeman, hero of the resistance. The one free man. An unkillable messianic combat-bastard, boffin extraordinare and owner of the finest beard in gaming. All round chap, right?

Well consider that it was his experiment which caused the Black Mesa incident in the first place. Not too bad maybe. He did at least travel over to Xen to kill the portal-controlling alien necro-baby. But now consider that by destabilising the Nilianth’s control over the Black Mesa portal storms he then opened up the way for the Combine invasion. Good job he was in stasis for 20 years immediately afterwards. Given that he still had two good legs at the time, Eli would have kicked the shit out of him.

Facepalm rating: 2/5 Picards


Facilitating global domination is pretty high on the screw-up scale, but the G-Man's influence was the real cause. Or was it? 

Albert Einstein
(Command & Conquer: Red Alert)


Rule number one of time-travel meddling: Unless you are The Doctor, YOU WILL ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE. We know this. Steven Spielberg knows this. But unfortunately, Albert Einstein didn’t know this.

Thus, he thought it was the best idea ever to go back in time to wipe out Hitler before World War II. But while history’s most genocidal vegetarian was clearly a serious case of human herpes, he didn’t have the monopoly on being a dictatorial scumbag. And thus, wiping him out only opened up the way for Stalin to take over instead. And in the Russian ending, it turns out that Kane is actually running the whole show from behind the scenes. Loving your work Albert, loving your work.

Facepalm rating: 3/5 Picards


Einstein couldn't have known what was going to happen, but surely if any man was bright enough to hazard a guess...

Kirby (Kirby's Adventure)


Oh Kirby, you sweetly naïve, fat-faced pink idiot. What’s that you say? The Star Rod has been stolen from the Fountain of Dreams, and now the friendly folk of Dream Land are missing out on their nightly visions of sugar-coated unicorns? You’d better go and get it back then.

You might want to have a word with Dedede first though. You know, just to make sure that he didn’t remove it to deprive an evil nightmare entity of power. You know, just in case one has infected the fountain and just happens to be waiting for the rod’s return so that it can go sick on Dream Land’s ass. Unlikely, we know, but could you just check tha… Oh, you’ve gone. Oh never mind. It’ll probably be fine.

Facepalm rating: 3/5 Picards


Kirby's gleefully enthusiastic stupidity was the root cause of this one. Though Dedede probably could have advertised his plan more efficiently.

Alex Roivas (Eternal Darkness)


So an elder god space demon thing has spent the last couple of millennia plotting its domination of Earth, has it? It’s slowly shuffled things into place via the Machiavellian manipulation of innocent people from every major era of mankind? And now it’s standing on the cosmic doorstep, just waiting to be let in? Egad! We’d better do something about that right now!

Quick! Summon another elder god space demon thing to kick its ass! That’s bound to work, and we’re sure our elder god demon will turn out to be a nice one.

Facepalm rating: 5/5 Picards


What did Alex think was going to happen? Although her Grandfather's ghost helps dispel the beast at the last second, the stupidity of the plan is highlighted by the fact that the game's 100% completion ending finishes on a potentially massive downer.

Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)


You may mock Lois Lane for never seeing through the least disguising disguise in the history of the blatantly obvious, but government-trained stealth operatives are no different. With naught but a pair of sunglasses and a hair-grip, Liquid Snake managed to pose as Solid's mentor Master Miller for the entire game, using his perceived authority to make him activate Metal Gear Rex with a key he thought would have the opposite effect.

Facepalm rating: 3/5 Picards


To be fair, Snake had been out of the business for a while before Metal Gear Solid, so probably wasn't on top of his game. But still, Miller turning up was a bit convenient, no?

The Warrior (Diablo)


Useful safety tip: When facing off against a hellspawn demon, particularly once which is known to be on the lookout for a human body to inhabit, do not assume that that slamming the stone used to contain its essence into your own skull will hold it at bay. Or in fact, be anything other than exactly what it wants. Good move if you’re after an antagonistic role in the sequel though.

Facepalm rating: 4/5 Picards


Absolutely no part of this plan is not a terrible idea. Though it's save from a full 5/5 rating because of the possibility that Diablo's corruption started to warp the Warrior's mind the very second he entered the dungeon.


  • Spybreak8 - July 3, 2009 9:16 a.m.

    You gotta love how some of the games out there help solidify the fact that eventhough we know we are being told how to play the game we're floored by what we did, ie Bioshock, Half Life and Crackdwon. Thinking about Crackdown and authority, man Robo Cop was a good movie! ^ ^ repatcha: big rabies - haha speaking of fallout
  • disturbedanomaly36 - July 2, 2009 7:29 p.m.

    god, Dirk, i am brought to tears every time i think about that dumbass, and he deserves that super-Picard for that too
  • spartan_n30 - June 30, 2009 12:20 a.m.

    u for got dedede, of all the vilans of the kirby universe, he is probably the most wirdest one, not only time and again does he do something that causes kirby to kick his ass time and again, but in certain games, he is actuly a indirect GOOD guy, i give him the trophy of wierdest villan of all time.
  • magicwalnuts0 - June 29, 2009 5:12 a.m.

    This one is excellent, I liked the choice of heroes. And of super mega hyper picard overloads.
  • MW3M - June 28, 2009 5:40 p.m.

    There are far too many stupid protangonists... Shujinko from Mortal Kombat Deception springs to my mind. Man that guy was stupid....
  • yoreAtowel - June 28, 2009 7:53 a.m.

    Gordon Freemans beard is only matched by Billy Mazes
  • Defguru7777 - June 28, 2009 12:42 a.m.

    What about Alex Mercer from Prototype? Its his damn fault the virus is in Manhattan, and he doesn't even realise it. Yes I know Alex isn't himself anymore, but still.
  • crumbdunky - June 27, 2009 7:57 p.m.

    @Misteradequate-Hiyler was also being injected, by the same doctors, liquefied bull testes. Though he's often said to have been vegetarian the fact is, at one time or another, the number of qack diets and treatments he was on/took mean you could call him just about anything. He started of mad as a bike and his doctors had him as little more than a walking experiment by the time everything fell apart.
  • MisterAdequate - June 27, 2009 1:59 p.m.

    Actually Hitler wasn't a vegetarian: His doctors recommended a vegetarian diet due to a bowel complaint but he didn't follow said advice. Which I suppose is fair enough, he already had those rumors about his testicles and probably didn't want to add to it with rumors about his arse. But yeah aside from that nitpicking, another great article :D
  • skyline19 - June 27, 2009 10:57 a.m.

    Picard is a serious badass.
  • BigBossOSE - June 27, 2009 8:43 a.m.

    @michaelmcc827 & cyberninja: You two are fucking idiots. You are the worst part of the internet. You wasted 4 comments just to bicker back and forth about bragging rights for making a comment just for the sake of making it. You don't say something intelligent, you just spit out the quickest line of shit that you can in an attempt to be able to type "first." Will you go to high school on Monday and brag to all your friends about how you were the one who really deserved the first comment? Is that how pathetic you are? Get off my internet. As for the list, it gave me a good feeling to think back to Bioshock, and the revelation that your entire journey had been controlled by someone else. Absolutely brilliant storytelling. It's a prime example of why games are such good mediums for it...if you were to watch a movie or read a book with Bioshock's plot, the twist would surely still be impressive...but to find out that you, yourself, are the one who has been running errands for others without even realizing it...that's powerful.
  • vitoruss - June 27, 2009 6:57 a.m.

    Follow my logic on this one... See, check it out- If you DIDN'T break the water chip in Fallout 2, then the Vault Dweller would have never began his quest. If the Vault Dweller never began his quest, he would have been sitting in the vault doing nothing when- BAM!!! SUPER MUTANTS COME IN AND KILL EVERYONE. See, the quest for the waterchip allowed the Vault Dweller to get the armor, the weaponry and most importantly, the experience to kill the Master before Vault 13 could be pillaged. So technically, that facepalm (while still a pretty bad facepalm) was a blessing in disguise! Saved humanity!
  • Samael - June 27, 2009 3:31 a.m.

    Being the Legacy of Kain fanboy that I am, I must add Raziel to this list. Though he'd only be like 2/5 Picards, because he really thought he was doing the right thing.
  • Unoriginal - June 26, 2009 8:05 p.m.

    Super Mega Hyper Picard Overload. Pure genious.
  • number1hitjam - June 26, 2009 7:50 p.m.

    What about Gerald from the Witcher?
  • Greed - June 26, 2009 6:19 p.m.

    The G-Man is NOT Gordon Freeman, for heaven's sakes. And it was the G-Man who caused the accident my messing with the crystal, not Gordon, even though it was Gordon and Kleiner's experiment. Recaptcha: Catherine spotted Oh no, the Nazis are going to get Catherine!
  • Ell223 - June 26, 2009 6:04 p.m.

    what about prince of persia?
  • nadrewod999 - June 26, 2009 5:41 p.m.

    @EvilNinjaSquibidyflop: They mean all the world YOU KNOW OF AND/OR MADE CONQUERABLE. "creaky the"
  • nadrewod999 - June 26, 2009 5:30 p.m.

    I wonder how big a facepalm Star Trek itself would have, especially since the facepalm images ARE BEING MADE BY THE ENTERPRISE'S OWN CAPTAIN FROM THE NEXT GENERATION! I mean, think about all the time paradoxes, alternate beginnings/endings/middles, complete moral reverses, and other idiotic stuff that has happened to the Enterprise crews over the years. Also, I am trying to start a new trend where we type into our comments what we had to type to show that we are real people and not computer programs. This time, I am "financially bemusing". (Quote it exactly both in the typing section and the comment section (case counts))
  • Cyberninja - June 26, 2009 5:08 p.m.

    @oruandymackie isnt G-man gordan freeman?

Showing 1-20 of 41 comments

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