This week, Polygon has been celebrating the winners of the entertainment world — the ones who came, saw, and conquered in a variety of exciting and morally irresponsible matchups. But to wind the week down, we want to call attention to the ones who so frequently go overlooked: the losers.
One eternal question spans all of pop culture: “Who would win?” That’s why we’re dedicating an entire week to debates that have shaped comics, movies, TV, and games, for better and worse. Prepare yourself for Polygon’s Who Would Win Week.
What is a loser? Can love bloom between losers on a battlefield? Why do we gravitate toward them, even though, by definition, they’re constantly doing the very thing we root for them not to do? To answer these questions, the Polygon staff pulled together our favorite 25 losers in video games, a realm where winning is usually the whole deal. Each entry interprets the label a bit differently, prioritizing anything from lovability to the literal frequency of defeat — but they all betray a profound appreciation for the has-beens, afterthoughts, and wannabes of the interactive medium.
Oh and, to
add even more salt to their wounds further celebrate their accolades, we ranked them.
25. Bottles (Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie)
Bottles is the ultimate video game sad sack. He spends the entirety of Banjo-Kazooie teaching bear and bird to execute basic moves in a tired, ho-hum tone. And just as the duo has incorporated Bottles into their friend group, inviting him to poker night, he gets zapped to death on Banjo & Kazooie’s lawn at start of the second game. From unsung tutorial hero to a pile of ashes in 10 minutes time, Bottles is the biggest loser in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. —Ryan Gilliam
24. Lydia (The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim)
Image: Bethesda Game Studios
She is sworn to carry your burdens. —Nicole Clark
23. Emil (Nier, Nier: Automata, Nier Replicant)
Image: Toylogic/Square Enix
He simply loses so much throughout the Nier franchise. In Nier: Replicant, Emil loses his sister to terrible experiments that turn her into a monstrous weapon — and after defeating her, Emil is transformed from a sweet, young boy to a fantastical creature wearing a spherical helmet with a Cheshire Cat grin. The events leading up to, and through, Nier: Automata involve Emil copying himself repeatedly in order to fight a robot …….