The Top 7… Bestest frenemies

Once a videogame hero has more than one or two adventures under his or her belt, it simply isn’t enough to just have an archenemy anymore. To keep things interesting, they need a foil, a rival, or some other angry opposite number obsessed with matching wits with them. Sometimes, those characters stick around long enough to make themselves an indelible part of the series, even going so far as to make friends with the protagonist – although more often than not, their friendships tend to be shaky at best, and even those involved might never fully admit to them. Relationships like that tend to make for gaming’s most enduring and interesting rivalries, and what follows are some of the most notable.

7. Wolf O’Donnell

Frenemies with: Fox McCloud

Making his first appearance in Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars, Wolf headed the Star Wolf team, and was notable mainly for looking and acting like Fox McCloud would if he were gray and also a bastard. As Fox’s opposite number, Wolf was a mercenary working for villain Andross, and popped in whenever the situation called for a dogfight against an evenly matched foe. He was also a pain in the ass, tending to show up expressly to distract players from some other important, possibly timed objective.

Wolf never showed any friendly inclination whatsoever toward Fox in SF64 (unsurprising, considering that one of his wingmen, Pigma Dengar, was complicit in the death of Fox’s father), but he softened considerably in Star Fox: Assault. Starting out as an antagonist, he eventually decided to put aside his differences with Fox in the face of an invasion by the alien Aparoids, even going so far as to fight by Fox’s side and rescue him from an ambush (something Wolf later claimed to have done simply because he wanted the privilege of killing Fox himself).

The grudging conversion to hero became complete at the end of the game, when Wolf and his team seemingly sacrificed themselves to bring down the alien armada, appearing to die for the same pilots they’d sworn to defeat.

Above: And so, a meme was born

Of course, a frenemy as likably snide as Wolf couldn’t be kept down for long, and he returned again in Star Fox Command. Here, his redemption was pretty much assured – although depending on the direction the story took, he could exact some measure of revenge on Fox by recruiting Fox’s girlfriend, Krystal, to his mercenary outfit. Consider it proof that it’s possible for a villain to reform and still be a complete bastard.

6. Knuckles the Echidna

Frenemies with: Sonic the Hedgehog

These days, Knuckles is pretty firmly in Sonic’s infuriatingmenagerie of dopey allies, but that wasn’t always the case. When he first debuted in 1994’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3, in fact, he was an outright enemy, having been tricked by Eggman into thinking that Sonic had stolen his Master Emerald.

Above: Punching a dude and then cackling about it is not very heroic behavior, no matter what you think he’s done

Sonic and his new floating red marsupial friend eventually patched things up (before going on to star in their own spinoff, Sonic & Knuckles), but their friendship was pretty shaky for some time afterward. Rather than hang around with Sonic and freeing birds from robot exoskeletons or whatever, Knuckles struck out on his own, returning to lock horns with the blue hedgehog as recently as 1999’s Sonic Adventure.

Above: Man, you just never learn, do you?

Since then, he’s taken a more subdued role as one of Sonic’s buddies, but the potential for a violent flare-up is still there. Sadly, we’ll probably never see it, as Sonic Team saw fit to replace Knuckles' wild-card role with Shadow the Hedgehog, a lame evil-twin embodiment of chaos who’s badass enough to wield real guns and star in a game that nobody asked for and everyone seems to revile. Shadow’s manufactured, anti-hero brand of cool isn’t as volatile or as interesting as Knuckles’ baseless suspicion and obsession with jealously guarding emeralds, though. And if the Sonic franchise hadn’t become such a confused mess over the past 10 years, we’d have probably seen Knuckles throw down with Sonic at least one more time.


Top 7


  • Johnny6Gun - September 22, 2011 8:42 p.m.

    No Gunstar Green?! Unforgivable!
  • archnite - September 21, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    any mention of MGS gets my Metal Gear Boner solid "! boing especially when it goes beyond MGS1. wouldn't ocelot (liquid o. or otherwise) also count since his entire motivation from mgs3 on was to serve big boss and the boss' memory by defeat the patriot machine they created?
  • rob619 - September 22, 2011 8:21 a.m.

    Agreed on two counts I am a self confessed MGS nerd aswell :). Yes Ocelot does count as his main aim from the being was to bring the patriots down. I remeber in MGS 4 went he admitted to Snake at the end that was his aim from the beginning I was shocked!
  • waffman11 - September 21, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    Am I the only one who thinks Shadow is a cool character anymore? I mean, he's got the awesome black/red combo going on, kills suff because he can, is a force of chaos and destruction, and...and I'm just going to go sit in a corner and wash the ten-year-old out of my brain.
  • Zepaw - September 21, 2011 5:07 p.m.

    I have some pictures and stories showing Fox and Wolf as much more than frenemies.
  • SpiritTemple - May 7, 2012 4:46 p.m.

  • CombatCat120 - September 20, 2011 11 p.m.

    Great article, Mikel! Keep em comin'!
  • Yeager1122 - September 20, 2011 7:59 p.m.

    I always loved qwark even when he was trying to kill me i mean he even gave me a giant furry creature to fight in the second game what a great guy.
  • Japanaman - September 20, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    I was SO glad to see Gray Fox on this list. But where is Barry Burton? He's like the best frenemy ever! He saved me from being a Jill Sandwich, handed me some ammo, yet held me at gunpoint all in the same game.
  • soranamineforever - September 20, 2011 4:56 p.m.

    "and later starred in their own SPIN-OFF game."?! OBJECTION! Seriously, what the hell? I reallie this is off topic, but Sonic & Knuckles is every bit as relevant to the franchise as the Sonic 1, 2, and 3 are. There's a reason you could (and should) combine it with 3.
  • Net_Bastard - September 20, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    "But he's the kind of asshöle we can get behind." That was a very poor choice of words.
  • ECShadow - September 20, 2011 1:06 p.m.

    WikiParez strikes again! How it unfolds on TalkRadar should be fun.
  • NightCrawler_358 - September 20, 2011 12:18 p.m.

    Man, I love reading Mikel's articles! He knows so much lore behind these video games. They don't call him WikiParez for nothin'!
  • marioman50 - September 20, 2011 11:09 a.m.

    lol @ "I'M DRIVING AT YOUR MOM!"
  • jackthemenace - September 20, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    I was kinda hoping to see Riku on here, at least somewhere. Y'know, because RIKU.
  • Sjoeki - September 20, 2011 10:09 a.m.

    Awesome top 7, you're on a roll Mikel! I thought Chloe (from uncharted) would be on here, not that you ever had to fight her but she did play both sides. The Darkness could also be on here as it screws you over and wants to end up owning you. Also, is that whole FIRST thing finally over? YAY!!!
  • Crypto140 - September 20, 2011 12:16 p.m.

    First! to reply.
  • Darkhawk - September 20, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    It's neat how even in Galaxy, by story's end, Mario and Peach are perfectly comfortable with having Bowser there, hanging out alongside them. It's like, oh, that was fun, let's go have tea and plot our next adventure.
  • KolbitosFruitJuice - September 20, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    Ada Wong could betray me all day every day, and I'd forgive her every time

Showing 1-20 of 41 comments

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