Otacon, Sully, and eight more of gaming's greatest third wheels

Table for... three?

Video games have plenty of power couples: Mario and Peach, Link and Zelda, Guile and America. The two are inseperable, and one cannot function without the other. However, in every instance there's someone outside of the duo that tries to get in, but just can't seem to fit in no matter how hard he or she tries. They deserve recognition too!

These poor folks find themselves on the outside looking in at the happy couple, whether it's by choice or not. Some of these folks are happy to stay out of it and lend a hand some other way, while others would love to break the two apart and claim one as their own. I feel sorry for these folks, but I understand; they're meant to be second fiddle, and that's just the way things are.

Victor "Sully" Sullivan (Uncharted)

Good ol Sully: treasure hunter extraordinare, mentor to Nathan Drake, and total third wheel in the Nathan/Elena dynamic. Any time Nathan and Elena go on an adventure, Sully is there to lend a hand and a sharp one-liner. Sully has gone out of his way to help them time and time again, even saving their hides on more than one occasion, which is more than some of the other third wheels on this list can say.

Even though he is a third wheel by definition, I like to think of Sully more as a fatherly figure than a true third wheel. Hell tell jokes, share a drink, and offer advice--everything a father should do. Hes like the cool dad in the neighborhood all the kids wanted to hang out with, except Sully travels the world and collect untold treasures, which makes him infinitely cooler. Then again, he's also like your dad tagging along on a date because you're not old enough to drive...

Eli Vance (Half-Life)

Where Sully is the father figure to Nathan and Elena, Eli Vance is Alyx Vances father, protecting her from the time she was a child. He built the pet robot named Dog for this sole purpose, to act as his eyes and ears when he couldnt protect Alyx himself. Eli may be one of the best fathers in all of video games, always thinking of his daughter first, and himself second.

Eli becomes a support character for both Gordon and Alyx throughout Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, but his importance is never diminished. He becomes a founding member of The Resistance in the fight against the Combine, he designs the ever-popular Gravity Gun, and he helps build the rocket attempting to neutralize the Portal Storms in Episode Two. Gordon and Alyx are the stars, but dear old Daddy Vance holds a special place in my heart too.

Pigsy (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West)

Though the story focuses on Trip and Monkey, the introduction of Pigsy makes Enslaved even more interesting. Pigsy and Trip are old friends, immediately shown when Pigsy recognizes her in a derelicy mech factory. He then joins the duo on their journey, helping out any way he can but not without starting a rivalry with Monkey over Trip.

The two bicker back and forth with increasing hostility until Monkey persuades Pigsy to approach Trip with his true feelings. It is here that gamers witness a fate worse than death for any man, third wheel or not: Trip friend-zones poor Pigsy, leaving him crushed while Monkey revels in the denial. For the first time, I felt bad for Pigsy, as Monkeys schoolyard bully-esque actions really killed his spirits. Its one thing to be a third wheel, its another for that third wheel to be shot down after a brave attempt. I salute his efforts, even if they were unsuccessful.

Hal "Otacon" Emmerich (Metal Gear Solid)

Everyones favorite anime-loving, pants-pissing scientist, Hal Otacon Emmerich is one of two allies Snake meets during his mission on Shadow Moses Island. He lends Snake a huge hand during the mission, frequently calling him via Codec with hints on how to proceed. He would become a central part of the Metal Gear tale from then on, playing major roles in MGS2 and MGS4.

Heres the problem: before Snake meets Otacon in the first Metal Gear Solid, he meets Meryl, and once he finds out shes in danger, he goes to insane lengths to save her, including Ocelots torture. Let us ask you this: if youre Snake and you had a choice between a dorky scientist and a beautiful lady, which one are you going to spend more energy trying to save?

Saria (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

Poor Saria. Every time I saw her, she looked at Link with those longing eyes that say I want to stand next to you for the rest of our lives, but I cant and I know it. She really cares for Link and its obvious to everyone except Link, whos too busy saving another woman from the clutches of evil. Sorry you got the short end of the ocarina, Saria.

Even when Saria finally CAN help Link on his journey, she becomes one of the Seven Sages and, as such, is confined to the Temple of Light in the Sacred Realm. Once again, she is forced to watch her beloved from afar and only offer indirect aid. It was never meant to be and really, once Link grew up, things would have gotten REALLY awkward anyhow.

Groose (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)

The direct opposite of Saria, this red-haired buffoon makes no secret of his desire to take Zelda away from our hero. From the minute Links first meets him, it's made clear hes going to be nothing but trouble. Before the Wing Ceremony, Groose kidnaps Links Loftwing to keep him out of the competition, and Zelda has to put him in his place (which I loved watching, by the way). Before long, I thought Groose would turn into quite an adversary

except he eventually decides to join Link in the fight to save Zelda instead of trying to one-up him. He builds a giant catapult on rails outside of the Sealed Temple, which becomes instrumental in defeating The Imprisoned multiple times. When he finally accepts his role as a helper to Link, Groose actually becomes one of the more dependable Zelda character in recent history. No dice on calling the adventure The Legend of Groose though. Sorry.

Maya Fey (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney)

I know what youre thinking: how is Maya a third wheel? Shes your partner through three full Phoenix Wright adventures! I know Maya plays a huge part in Phoenix Wrights success in the courtroom, but consider how she got to be his aide in the first place: her sisters death! Without that, Mia stays the head of the agency, Phoenix is HER aide, and Maya is still channeling spirits in Kurain Village.

Heres even more evidence: when Phoenix Wright is really down and needs an extra boost to get through, what does Maya do? SHE CHANNELS MIA TO TALK HIM THROUGH IT. She knows she cant help, so she calls on the person who can! Yes, without Maya Phoenix is toast, but without Mia neither of them are getting anywhere.

Riku (Kingdom Hearts)

Three kids, two boys and one girl, are left alone on a tropical island with no other human contact. I'm not surprised the two boys would compete for the girls heart, but right from the beginning of the original Kingdom Hearts, I can see it between Sora and Riku. Riku even tells Sora that if he doesnt share the paopu fruit with Kairi soon, Riku will. Oh SNAP, THINGS JUST GOT REAL. SCHOOLYARD JUSTICE, SON.

When the three get separated, Sora saves Kairi while Riku allows the darkness to overcome him, becoming a major nemesis for the heroes of light. Riku leads Princess Jasmine to Maleficent, kidnaps Pinocchio, and allows Ansem to possess him with the promise of more power. Eventually, Riku comes to his senses and helps Sora, and hes been helping him ever since, but for a while he was a real jerk. Youre never going to win Kairis heart by dabbling in darkness and letting Sora save her. Come on man.

Tifa Lockhart (Final Fantasy VII)

For much of Final Fantasy VII, Tifa Lockheart is the other girl. Sure, shes good friends with both Aerith and Cloud, and the three fight together against Shinra and Sephiroth, but despite Tifa and Clouds relationship going back to childhood, Cloud is more interested in the pretty flower girl in pink.

However, eventually Aerith gets a Masamune in the gut, and Tifa is left with the shattered pieces of Cloud. Even though he would clearly have chosen Aerith if given the chance, Tifa continues to serve as emotional support for Cloud, even saving his psyche after they both fall into the Lifestream. Eventually, if the player chooses, the affection between the two can grow into more than friendship, but none of that happens if the flower girl doesnt die.

Luigi (Super Mario Bros)

Gaming's ultimate third wheel. We all know how Luigi has played second fiddle to Mario every second of his thirty years in existence. We all love Luigi, even though hes a big cowardly scaredy-cat. Well, I guess we all dont love Luigi, because if that were true then Peach would ditch the front-runner Mario and get with the real mans man in green. Daisy got the message, but only after she went through Mario first. Man, Luigi cant catch a break.

The scene pictured is the perfect representation of what it means to be a third wheel: Luigi commandeers a hot-air balloon, invites the Mushroom Kingdom power couple onto it, then gets LEFT BEHIND as the two lovebirds ignore him and fly off into the sunset. How crappy is that?! Its ok though; the official event may have ended, but itll always be The Year of Luigi in my heart.

Any extra wheels we forgot?

I'm sure there's plenty of other third wheels out there in the gaming world, so if you know of any let us know in the comments. I want all of the odd men and women out to feel recognized, especially with Valentine's Day around the corner.

For more GamesRadar goodness, check out 7 mundane, everyday problems that game heroes never have and Games with a shocking number of alternate endings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WHY HELLO THERE! Name's Jason, hailing from right outside Philadelphia. I've been playing the vidya games for well over 20 years, starting with the NES and making my way all the way up to the Wii U. My mother tells people that I taught myself to read at age 3 using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. I'm the type of guy that will try anything once, but I do have a few favorite genres, fighting and RPG being at the top. I've been writing about video games since I finished my Broadcast Journalism degree at Temple University in December 2008, mostly for www.gamernode.com. Since then I've been to three E3s, two New York Comic Cons, the first ever PAX East, and many more to come (I hope). I hope everyone enjoys my stuff as much as I love producing it. Hit me up on Twitter @bigmanfanelli, I love talking games with anyone and everyone.
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