Video game 'bad guys' who aren't really bad at all

Sympathy for the devil?

Not all video game antagonists are evil. Some bad guys have reasons for their behaviour so well-considered that they become massively sympathetic. Some even go as far as to make you feel like the real villain for stopping them in the first place. And in some cases, you probably are. You can see those cases in the video below, or click through for our list of baddies with (almost) reasonable motivation.

Pagan Min (Far Cry 4)

Is perceived as evil because: He forcefully took over the remote area of Kyrat

But is justified because: He was born into drugs and a bad family, something far beyond his control, and his father never supported his flamboyant ways. He grew up knowing nothing except for living a life of crime. He's ambitious, so steps in to take over an already crumbling state. He's not exactly kind, but he's also not as evil as everyone thinks he is. In fact, it's your fault for kicking off a civil war in the first place: near the start of the game, he invites you for dinner but has to briefly step out to sort some things out. Most people wander off and instigate chaos, but if you wait like he asked, he returns to help you spread your mother's ashes. That doesn't seem so bad to us.

Alma (F.E.A.R. series)

Is perceived as evil because: She's a scary ghost girl who tends to leave huge swathes of wall-to-wall splatter wherever she goes. And she has a habit of instantly killing on contact in the game's various hallucinatory sequences depicting her as a young woman.

But is justified because: She's nothing but a victim. Traumatised by uncontrollable psychic powers at a very young age, she was brutally experimented on during childhood, put into a forced coma, and then effectively surgically raped in order to breed an army of psychically augmented super-soldiers. By her dad, no less, who they switched off her life support. It's entirely understandable that she'd lash out. And those bits where her Sadako form kills you? Given that you're her son, it's entirely possible that her arms-outstretched pose is not a stance of attack, but rather an attempt at a hug. So in some ways, her killing you simply an attempt to get the family back together.

Revolver Ocelot (Metal Gear Solid series)

Is perceived as evil because: He's violent, has murdered more than a few people, expresses a fondness for torture, stole multiple nuclear weapons with intent to fire them, and come on, that moustache.

But is justified because: Plug your ears, anyone who's not yet played Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Turns out that Ocelot was basically the greatest method actor of all time, as his true intention all along was to bring about the end of a shadow organisation akin to the Illuminati. When Grey Fox cut off his hand during the Shadow Moses incident, Ocelot replaced it with Liquid Snake's and let himself be brainwashed into thinking he was possessed by the severed limb, all to get closer to his eventual goal: freedom from The Patriots. He wasn't completely altruistic, as without the intervention of Snake and friends, Ocelot's plan would've plunged the world into total anarchy, but his intentions were, ultimately, of a noble persuasion.

Every alien 'enemy' (Half-Life)

Is perceived as evil because: They all try to kill you on sight.

But is justified because: The aliens in the first Half-Life game are all as inconvenienced as Gordon is. The resonance cascade has ripped them out of their home dimension and dropped them into what to them is a terrifying alien world full of danger, and aggressive, weird-looking creatures trying to kill them. Of course they're going to go on the offensive.

King Dedede (Nightmare in Dream Land)

Is perceived as evil because: He stole the star rod from the Fountain of Dreams and smashed it, giving him full control over the fountain and leaving the people of Dream Land unable to dream. 

But is justified because: He actually only committed the 'crime' because he knew that a nightmare had infested the fountain and wanted to stop it from infiltrating the dreams of the country's citizens through the power of the rod. By reuniting all of the rod's pieces, Kirby messes things right up, and it's actually Dedede who sends him off to the final confrontation to fix the problem.

Pyrrha Omega (Soulcalibur V)

Is perceived as evil because: She's brutally violent, incredibly aggressive, and kills endlessly to fuel the Soul Edge.

But is justified because: She might be a walking apocalypse on the outside, but inside, Pyrrah Omega doesn't want any of it. Cursed from birth following her mother Sophitia's own corruption by the Soul Edge, everyone around Pyrrha has suffered or died, despite absolutely zero malice or aggression from the girl herself. Apologetic, broken, and utterly lonely, she was eventually manipulated into serving the blade when Tira--another servant--framed her for her fiance's murder and forced Pyrrha to join her as payment for avoiding execution. A little while later, Tira pushed her right over the edge by introducing her to long-lost brother Patroklos, only to take away all hope for a loving family life by ensuring he became disgusted by her corruption. Pyrrha's transformation into her Omega self is now an involuntary reaction to negative emotions. Of which she's been made to have quite a few.

William Johnson (Assassin's Creed III)

Is perceived as evil because: He smuggled a load of tea into the US, and further profiteered by having his men falsely pose as tax collectors. And besides, he was a Templar. In Assassins Creed thats enough, right?

But is justified because: He was stockpiling money in an attempt to buy Iroquois Island on behalf of the Templars. And the reason he was doing that was that he'd predicted that said islands indigenous people--along with all of the natives of America--were soon to suffer the full brunt of the new colonists intolerance. The bid to buy the island was a pre-emptive strike in protecting the Native Americans from oppression by the country's new settlers, and while he may have become aggressive when the Iroquois didn't want to negotiate, Johnson's plan only ever sprang from a benevolence. Also, in hindsight, he was totally right. Smallpox blankets, anyone?

Ryder White (Dead Island)

Is perceived as evil because: He seems to make life hard for the survivors at every turn. He screws them over, steals their antidote, and eventually turns into a big monster and has to be killed.

But is justified because: The Ryder White's Campaign DLC reveals that he's being manipulated and screwed around a lot himself. In fact a lot of his 'contact' with the player in the main game actually comes from another character, Charon, posing as him. And besides all of that, everything he does is essentially to the end of securing a cure for his infected wife. 

Scorpion (Mortal Kombat series)

Is perceived as evil because: He's a glowy-eyed demonic zombie ninja who harpoons people for fun and sets fire to them when he gets bored.

But is justified because: In the original Mortal Kombat storyline, Scorpion was an avenging victim character. Murdered - along with his family and clan - by Sub-Zero, he returned to seek vengeance against his killer, wearing a yellow version of Subbys outfit in order to mock his cowardice. Within the two ninjas storyline, Sub-Zero was the bad guy, Scorpion the hero. Scorpion successfully kills the original Sub Zero - who then becomes the undead Noob Saibot - and the Sub Zero we see in subsequent games is actually his brother. Short versions: Scorpion is a good guy.