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.


  • michaelmcc827 - June 26, 2009 4:01 p.m.

    Ha that was great....
  • Cyberninja - June 26, 2009 4:03 p.m.

    yay i like stuff to be diffrent then conventions(first)
  • michaelmcc827 - June 26, 2009 4:06 p.m.

  • NeoKef - June 26, 2009 4:23 p.m.

    Great article,The Gears part is funny.
  • KillDrone - June 26, 2009 4:44 p.m.

    Correction: G-Man caused the Black Mesa incident
  • oryandymackie - June 26, 2009 5:02 p.m.

    Talking about game characters facepalming themselves? Look at Cyberninja, a rather noobish, fanboy-esque FIRST! from him. And he got pipped to the post. F A I L. And, Killdrone? You don't insult the G-Man. You just don't.
  • EvilNinjaSquibidyflop - June 26, 2009 5:09 p.m.

    Correction: The Agency in Crackdown only established dictatorship of the capital city. Whether this reach has grown remains to be seen in Crackdown 2. Or is GR dropping hints?...
  • GR_DavidHoughton - June 26, 2009 5:35 p.m.

    Squibidy: Yeah, it's true that you only explicitly hear about the takeover of Pacific City, but there are very strong hints in the ending that it's about to spread.
  • CAPST3R - June 26, 2009 5:38 p.m.

    LMAO at super mega hyper picard overload, that was hilarious! is that picture copyrighted, because I want it for my PS3! that's brilliant! seriously, is it copyrighted? @nadrewod999: that trend's been here for months, it's when people quote their ReCaptcha. E.g: reCAPTCHA: generics office
  • Shipster360 - June 26, 2009 5:40 p.m.

    I think leeroy jenkins should have been included in this one
  • Ded - June 26, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    I'm surprised you didn't add Shadow of the Colossus..
  • ELpork - June 26, 2009 6:45 p.m.

    YAY!!... Love star trek.
  • ClusterShart - June 26, 2009 7:45 p.m.

    Lol, you gave Dave (Solid Snake) 3 facepalms.
  • iluvmyDS - June 26, 2009 11:29 p.m.

    You forgot Wander from Shadow Of The Colossus, i forgive you for the good content otherwise.
  • ProfessorBonk - June 27, 2009 12:29 a.m.

    Isn't this basically the Top 7 Games Where You Find Out You're An Evil Bastard article? Though I agree with these 100%.
  • civver - June 27, 2009 12:45 a.m.

    Well, to be fair, the failure of the experiment wasn't Gordon's fault, he just pushed the trolley. And he wouldn't have know that the portal storms would happen.
  • jar-head - June 27, 2009 4:02 a.m.

    why do people so, "well, what about..." there are Thousands of games..."Well..what about..." well, how about you open a can of stfu, gr kicks all ass
  • rybell - June 27, 2009 9:35 p.m.

    personally i thought that the biggest facepalm in half life 2 was when gordon is almost to the lab to destroy everything and then decides to get in a restraining device instead
  • FinalGamer - June 28, 2009 12:02 p.m.

    Oh man Dirk I remember that part of Dragon's Lair 2....but yeah the Chosen One in Fallout 2, what the hell!?!?
  • Demonflare - June 28, 2009 1:03 p.m.

    YAH! Bioshock! Kirby! And Snake!

Showing 1-20 of 41 comments

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