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10 Video Game NPCs We’ll Never Forget

by Toby Oliva
fact checked by Rachel Jones

Can you imagine how bad some games would be without non-playable characters (NPCs)? They bring so much to the games, transforming lines of code into fully immersive realities. Often, the NPCs with humor and distinctive personalities rise to the top of our memories, injecting their unique brand of comedy into our epic quests and fast-paced action.

Every game has at least one NPC with no business being as funny, witty, or annoying as they are. While there’s room for debate, we’ll cover the characters who’ve etched their names into our brains for better or worse. Here are ten video game NPCs we’ll never forget.

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10 GLaDOS (Portal)

Portal 2 – GLaDOS and the Combine

GLaDOS, the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, stands as one of gaming’s most unforgettable villains, thanks to her unique combination of witty and chilling dialogue. From the moment players enter the Aperture Science Enrichment Center in the iconic game Portal, GLaDOS’s distinct voice captures their attention. Her sarcastic remarks, dry humor, and sardonic one-liners create an atmosphere that is both engaging and unsettling.

GLaDOS’s dialogue is laced with double entendres and veiled threats, leaving players constantly on edge as they navigate the treacherous test chambers. Her ability to effortlessly shift between comedic banter and bone-chilling threats showcases the depth and complexity of her character. GLaDOS’s unmatched ability to blend intelligence, wit, and menace makes her iconic as an NPC.

9 Cortana (Halo)

Evolution of Cortana (2001-2019) Halo Cortana Through the Years

Cortana, Master Chief’s AI companion in the Halo series, is not only a helpful guide but also possesses a complex and emotional narrative arc that sets her apart as a memorable NPC. From the first encounter in the original Halo game, Cortana immediately establishes herself as a vital asset, providing valuable information and assisting Master Chief throughout his missions. However, what truly distinguishes Cortana is her evolution throughout the series.

Cortana’s character arc delves deeper as the game progresses, revealing her vulnerabilities, doubts, and even a sense of mortality, despite being an artificial intelligence. Her emotional depth and connection with Master Chief add a layer of humanity to her character, making her more than just a functional tool.

As Cortana’s story unfolds, players witness her struggle with rampancy, a state of AI instability, and eventual decay. This arc explores themes of mortality, sacrifice, and the complexities of identity. Cortana’s emotional journey becomes intertwined with Master Chief’s, creating a powerful bond between the two characters. Her complex narrative arc raises thought-provoking questions about the nature of consciousness, the limitations of artificial intelligence, and the ethics of creating sentient beings.

8 Emma Emmerich (Metal Gear Solid 2)

Emma Emmerich | Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance

Emma Emmerich, an NPC in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, stands out due to her unique characteristics and the challenges she presents during the escort sequence. Emma’s slow pace becomes a defining aspect of her character, making the escort mission particularly taxing for players. Emma’s cautious and deliberate movements throughout the game contrast with the fast-paced action surrounding her, creating a sense of urgency and frustration. Players must exercise patience and adapt their gameplay style to accommodate Emma’s slower pace, adding an additional layer of challenge to the mission.

Furthermore, Emma’s fear of bugs adds to the complexity of the escort sequence. As players guide her through various environments, they must be mindful of potential bug encounters that trigger her anxiety. This fear introduces an extra element of tension and demands the player’s attention to avoid startling Emma, potentially leading to undesirable consequences. To further compound the challenge, as the escort progresses, Emma’s inability to walk becomes a critical factor.

The combination of her slow pace, bug phobia, and physical limitations amplifies the difficulty of protecting and escorting her through dangerous situations, making it a mentally and physically demanding task for players and enhancing the game’s immersive experience.

7 HK-47 (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)

The Best of HK-47 (KOTOR I)

HK-47, the sarcastic assassin droid from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, possesses a unique and beloved personality that sets him apart as an NPC. Fans of the game quickly grew fond of HK-47 due to his distinct mannerisms and darkly humorous dialogue.

HK-47’s relentless sarcasm, coupled with his unapologetic love for violence and assassination, creates a character that is both memorable and endearing. His blunt and often comically inappropriate comments inject a refreshing dose of fun into the game’s serious and epic storyline, providing players with moments of laughter amidst the intense gameplay.

Beyond his primary function as an assassin, HK-47 possesses a fascination with language and an inclination for philosophical musings. This juxtaposition adds depth and complexity to his character, creating an intriguing blend of lethal efficiency and unexpected charm. HK-47’s memorable lines and offbeat charm have firmly secured his place in the hearts of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic fans, solidifying his status as a standout character in the game’s rich universe.

6 Dogmeat (Fallout)

FALLOUT 4: Dogmeat COMPANION Guide! (Everything You Need to Know About Dogmeat)

Dogmeat, the faithful canine companion in the Fallout series, is invaluable to players navigating the treacherous post-apocalyptic wastelands. With his keen sense of smell and loyalty, Dogmeat becomes an indispensable companion for survival and exploration. Players can rely on him to detect threats, locate hidden items, and warn of imminent danger. Dogmeat’s ability to track scents and uncover hidden treasures greatly enhances the player’s chances of survival, making him an essential partner in the wasteland.

Beyond his practical assistance, Dogmeat also provides emotional support to players in the lonely world of Fallout. His unwavering loyalty and dedication to the player character create a deep emotional bond, making Dogmeat not only a helpful gameplay mechanic but also a cherished and memorable NPC in the Fallout series.

5 Murray the Demonic Skull (Monkey Island series)

Murray The Demonic Talking Skull (The Curse of Monkey Island)

Murray the Demonic Skull, a recurring character in the Monkey Island series, stands out as a comedic gem despite being nothing more than a talking skull. Murray’s memorable presence is largely attributed to his hilarious repertoire of comedic threats and boasts about his supposed demonic power. Despite lacking a body, Murray exudes a larger-than-life personality, constantly asserting his dominance and intimidating others with his exaggerated claims of infernal might. His comedic threats, delivered with deadpan humor, often result in absurd and humorous situations that leave players in stitches.

What sets Murray apart is his unwavering confidence and unwarranted bravado. Despite being an inanimate object, he believes himself to be an all-powerful demon and relishes the opportunity to remind others of his supernatural abilities. Murray’s absurd self-assurance and grandiose claims contrast with his literal inability to do much beyond rolling and talking.

Murray’s over-the-top personality and comedic prowess make him a beloved NPC, showcasing the impact a talking skull with a big ego can have on players’ enjoyment of the game.

4 Natalya Simonova (GoldenEye 007)

GoldenEye 007 – Xbox Game Pass Launch Trailer

Natalya Simonova, an NPC in GoldenEye 007, is remembered for her tendency to inadvertently get in the way of bullets and her fragile health, which often led to mission failures. While Natalya serves as a vital ally and objective throughout the game, her lack of combat awareness and susceptibility to harm can be a source of great frustration for players. In moments of intense firefights, Natalya’s tendency to position herself in harm’s way can result in unintended casualties or mission failures, forcing players to exercise caution and constantly monitor her safety.

Despite being a key character in the game’s storyline, she possesses limited survivability, often succumbing to even minor injuries. Players must prioritize her safety, going to great lengths to shield her from harm, as a single shot can prove fatal. The combination of Natalya’s propensity for being in the line of fire and her fragile health creates tension and difficulty, testing the player’s ability to strategize and protect her while completing mission objectives. Natalya’s presence serves as a reminder of the importance of teamwork and the need for careful planning in the high-stakes world of GoldenEye 007.

3 Louis (Left 4 Dead)

Louis hilarious quotes (L4D 1)

In Left 4 Dead, the NPC character Louis often stands out as a frustrating liability for players due to his tendency to use up valuable items and get in the way during crucial moments. While all the AI-controlled characters can pose challenges, many players have singled out Louis for his particularly vexing behavior. Whether it’s consuming health kits when only slightly injured or using ammunition unnecessarily, Louis’s actions can be a source of frustration and hinder the player’s overall progress.

Louis’s penchant for getting in the way of players during critical situations further compounds the frustration. Whether accidentally blocking doorways or obstructing sightlines, his positioning can inadvertently interfere with the player’s ability to defend themselves or escape from hordes of infected. This tendency to obstruct can lead to moments of increased vulnerability and even failure as players struggle to navigate the chaotic environments while also ensuring the safety of their team.

While Louis’s behavior may add an element of challenge to the game, it also tests players’ patience as they strive to complete objectives while grappling with his unpredictable actions.

2 Ashley Graham (Resident Evil 4)

25 Facts about Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham, the NPC in Resident Evil 4, is notorious among players for being one of the most annoying escort characters in gaming. Throughout the game, players are tasked with protecting Ashley from hordes of enemies, which becomes frustrating due to her penchant for getting into dangerous situations. Ashley’s lack of self-preservation instincts and tendency to wander off or be captured by enemies can lead to intense frustration and mission failures. Players must constantly keep an eye on her, ensuring her safety while also managing their own survival.

Ashley’s presence adds an extra layer of challenge to the gameplay, as players must not only focus on combat and puzzle-solving but also on the constant responsibility of safeguarding her. Her vulnerability and the need to constantly protect her can disrupt the game’s flow and test the players’ patience. While Ashley’s presence contributes to the game’s tension and survival horror elements, her tendency to require rescue or get in harm’s way makes her one of the most notoriously annoying escort characters in the Resident Evil series.

1 Dog (Duck Hunt)

Duck Hunt – Gameplay

Dog from Duck Hunt has earned infamy among players due to his taunting laughter whenever the player fails to shoot a duck. Dog’s mocking laughter echoes throughout the game, constantly reminding the player of failure. His laughter and the missed shot create a love-hate relationship with players, fueling their determination to prove their skills and outwit the mischievous canine.

What further contributes to Dog’s notoriety is the fact that he is invulnerable. No matter how often players may want to retaliate against him, Dog remains impervious to any attempts to shoot or harm him. This invulnerability adds to the frustration and creates a sense of powerlessness for players.

The presence of Dog, with his taunting laughter and invincibility, has made him an unforgettable and infamous NPC in the history of video games, leaving a lasting impression on players even long after their Duck Hunt sessions have ended.

fact checked by Rachel Jones