Video games are filled with multiple complicated characters to advance their plots and interest gamers. Whether they be determined superheroes like Batman or rage filled warriors like God of War: Ragnarök‘s Kratos, well-developed characters are essential in making a game stand out above the rest.

Some of these characters, however, have lived rough lives, and their backstories are filled with tragedy and despair. These characters have been through so much, whether it be inflicted on themselves or what they have inflicted on others, creating some of the darkest character backstories in all of video game history.


Kratos (God of War)

Kratos looking at the Leviathan Axe in God of War Ragnarok.

Kratos has encountered so much pain and hurt throughout the God of War games that his tragic and dark backstory just adds another layer of tragedy to him.

Related: 10 Best Video Games Like God Of War

Years before the games, when all hope was lost for Kratos and his crew, he called upon Ares for help, who gave him the Blades of Chaos and sent him into a murderous rage – a rage that also led to the god tricking him into killing his wife and daughter in a temple of Athena. Slaughtering hundreds in the name of Ares is one thing, but being tricked into killing the people he cared about most just makes Kratos’ backstory even darker and sets him on the path towards vengeance and the death of the Greek Pantheon.

Jack (Mass Effect 2)

Jack at Grissom Academy in Mass Effect 3

Jack is a fan-favorite character from the Mass Effect franchise and one of the most important characters to save. But as she tells Shepard in Mass Effect 2, her backstory is filled with nothing but pain and death.

As a child, Jack was taken by Cerberus and experimented on for years, turning her into a rage-filled killing machine known as Subject Zero. Even after her escape, she fell into more hard times, bouncing from one gang to the next until being captured and imprisoned by the Blue Suns. Jack has rarely seen any kindness from anyone until Shepard recruited her to the Normandy, and her past still haunts her long after she finds personal happiness.

Rin Yamaoka “The Spirit” (Dead by Daylight)

The Spirit surrounded by broken glass in the Shattered Bloodlines chapter of Dead By Daylight

Many of the best killers in Dead by Daylight have dark, tragic backstories behind them, and that’s easily apparent when looking at the past of Rin Yamaoka, aka The Spirit.

Rin’s family was faced with hard times financially, which forced her to work part-time. Her father eventually went berserk and murdered Rin’s mother, and later, Rin herself. But as Rin lay dying, she swore she would make him pay, prompting the Entity to take her and transform her into The Spirit. It’s tragic, especially since Rin did nothing wrong and was a good person beforehand. Now, due to these events, she is forced to wander the Fog and kill any survivor she comes across.

James Sunderland (Silent Hill 2)

James Sunderland in the Silent Hill 2 remake holding a hangman's rope in his hands.

Silent Hill is filled with scary monsters and memorable characters such as James Sunderland. But James also has one of the most tragic and dark backstories out there.

James’ wife, Mary, contracts a terminal illness that causes her to have violent mood swings and led James to a state of despair, which culminated in him smothering her with a pillow. It’s a tragic end to a loving marriage, made even darker when he represses the memory of him killing her, leaving it up to the player to discover all this along with James at the same time. Either way, James’ backstory is tragic, dark, and not something anyone wants to ever experience personally in real life.

Aerith Gainsborough (Final Fantasy VII)

Many Final Fantasy characters have dark backstories, but Aerith’s story has pretty much every single bad thing that could happen to her happen, making it even harder to hear about.

Related: 10 Biggest Emotional Gut-Punches In Final Fantasy Games

In the course of her life before the game, Aerith was experimented on, hunted like an animal for sport, and watched her mother die right in front of her. Everything about her backstory is tragic and dark, and it’s hard to see her being able to go on after suffering so much in her life. It’s also a story that would be unexpected just by looking at her and makes her tragic death towards the end of the game even more heartbreaking to experience time and time again.

Master Chief (Halo: Combat Evolved)

Halo Master Chief

Master Chief is one of the best video game characters of all time, but not much of his backstory is revealed within the games. However, later Halo lore shows just how dark his backstory really was.

To fight insurgents, Dr. Halsey essentially kidnaped little kids and trained them to become super soldiers. John, aka Master Chief, was one of these kids. The things that he and the other kids went through were brutal and often life-threatening. Even the process to turn the candidates into Spartans was extremely painful and potentially lethal. This is a backstory that those playing the games couldn’t have ever guessed, but the deeper people go into Master Chief’s lore, the more they realize just how messed up his childhood really was.

Angel (Borderlands)

Borderlands 2 Angel

Not much is known about Angel during the course of the first two Borderlands games, other than that she is a Siren and Handsome Jack’s daughter. However, her past soon comes to light in a side mission within Borderlands 3.

After gaining her Siren powers, Angel is captured by a bandit. When Jack tries to save her, Angel uses her powers to kill the bandit – and, unintentionally, her mother. This causes Jack to force Angel into seclusion and use her for his plans. It’s a heartbreaking story, as Angel didn’t mean to kill her mother. It was an accident, and it was that moment that also broke Handsome Jack, leading him on his path to becoming one of the biggest threats to Pandora.

Junko Enoshima (Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc)

Enoshima Junko

The life of Junko Enoshima prior to the events of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is filled with despair – often due to her own actions.

Related: 10 Video Games With Alternate “Bad Endings”

Throughout her life, Junko became bored with the predictability of the world and fascinated with despair, which she believed was unpredictable. Due to this, she decides to spread despair to the entire world, masterminding the Tragedy and the killing games involving the students of Hope’s Peak. Yes, much of the darkness of her backstory is self-inflicted so she can spread despair and experience it herself, but it’s still a dark backstory nonetheless – especially when she does everything she does simply because she was bored.

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

Alma Wade from F.E.A.R. glowers at the camera from behind her bangs.

Kids with tremendous amounts of power often seem to have extremely dark backstories, especially in the case of Alma Wade.

Born with tremendous psychic abilities, Alma was brutally experimented on by Armacham Technology Corporation for years.

When she started lashing out, she was put in an induced coma and locked away, and was even impregnated twice before her life support was cut. Based on just how horrible she was mistreated during all this, it’s no wonder that, as a psychic force, she has viciously murdered everyone and everything that crosses her path or tries to stop her.

Nautilus (League of Legends)

League of Legends has multiple tragic characters with horrible backstories, but Nautilus’ story definitely ranks among the darkest the game has to offer.

Once upon a time, Nautilus was a simple salvage diver. But after he and his crew were bought out, he is placed in a giant metal suit to go deeper down into the depths of the sea. Nautilus is suddenly pulled down deeper by an unknown force and wakes up fused to the suit with the new captain long gone. It’s a tragic story, as Nautilus was simply just doing his job, but wound up between another man and his obsessions, and has paid the price for this, now taking his anger towards more ships that don’t pay the tithe to appease the seas.

Next: 10 Best Support Champions In League Of Legends

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