Push to Smart Show: Gaming’s Top Female Antagonists

We’re counting down some of our favorite female characters in games–starting with the ones we love to hate (or just shamelessly love). We’ve selected our six favorite female antagonists. Did yours make the cut?

A full transcript is after the jump.


Female antagonists in games are not necessarily as rare as their heroic counterparts, but they tend to run the gamut of Sexy Seductress, Monstrous Mother, and Sexy Monstrous Mother Seductress. In a little act of subversion, we’ve chosen our six favorite exceptions to the rule. Some of them might be mothers, some of them might even be sexy, but they bring a whole lot more to the table in terms of both charm and menace.

GLaDOS from Portal

Portal wouldn’t be Portal without the passive aggressive (or sometimes just plain aggressive) taunts from GLaDOS, its science-loving AI. It’s her voice that eases us into the game’s revolutionary portal system, and eggs us through every challenge thereafter. She’s easily one of gaming’s most memorable antagonists and certainly it’s most quotable. Even when she and the protagonist are grudgingly forced to team-up against a common threat in the sequel, she never lets us forget how little she thinks of us–often to hilarious effect.

Interestingly, GLaDOS might be one of our first true digital stars, as she has transcended the gaming medium in ways few characters have. After antagonizing players in two Portal games, she made the jump to Hollywood with Pacific Rim and even dropped by to educate (and, of course, antagonize) two hapless NASA employees in official videos for the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Flemeth, the Witch of the Wilds, from Dragon Age

Flemeth is the kind of character worlds are built on. She weaves in and out of the heroes’ stories, suggesting something incomprehensibly big and sinister just beyond our grasp. While she was a more active player in Dragon Age: Origin’s drama, ultimately giving the player the chance to save their character, all it took was a single scene in Dragon Age II to cement her status as the franchise show-stealer. Flemeth always seems more amused than impressed by the Thedas-shattering events of the games; We know from her laugh that she has bigger fish to fry than us, but she’ll humor us for awhile. She’s the embodiment of “this story is going somewhere big.” Or at least “this story should go somewhere big.”

Eve from Parasite Eve

Eve’s inception is perhaps a little different than the other villains on this list. Originally the sexy Frankenstein-esque monster of Hideaki Sena’s novel, Eve made the jump from, page, to radio play, to big screen, and finally videogame screens with Squaresoft’s Parasite Eve. Unlike her novel origins that seduced the grieving scientist protagonist, Squaresoft’s Eve took the form of a murderous opera singer who terrorized New York and rookie cop Aya Brea. The player’s exploits as Aya are rewarded with new and increasing disgusting transformations in Eve’s evolution. Each of her transformations is more elegant and repulsive than the last, which at times is at odds with her seemingly flippant taunts to our heroine. The result is wonderfully creepy and delightfully disturbing. She does try to crush New York with her uterus, after all. When Aya and Eve face off for the last time, after hours filled with literally melting faces at Carnegie Hall, mutant dogs, and, of course, a giant uterus, its an RPG boss fight to be remembered.

Lily from The Walking Dead

Lily is a character driven to antagonization through the decay of the world around her. Her descent into paranoia, culminating in murder is a slow process brought about by the massive changes that affect her after the zombie outbreak. The only person she has left to hold onto after the outbreak is her father, Larry, a terrible man who is constantly at odds with those around him. She finds purpose in leading Lee’s band of survivors but the pressure & responsibility begins to wear her down until her father’s graphic death and betrayal within the group pushes her over the edge. While the player can befriend Lily her actions subvert our expectations by going against our own impression of where the story should go. In a game that is all about choice, Lily reacts to those choices in a way that is aggressively and frustratingly human.

Sarah Kerrigan, The Queen of Blades from Starcraft

The fall of Sarah Kerrigan and the rise of the Queen of Blades is ultimately what propels the narrative of Starcraft forward. At first a victim of betrayal Kerrigan later becomes a master of deceit after her transformation to Zerg-Terran hybrid. She is able to manipulate the most intelligent leaders of all three races to further her own conquests. Her actions are without a doubt monstrous, but we have to wonder if the monstrous side of Kerrigan is a natural part of her Zerg evolution, or an inherently Terran aspect of herself freed after being betrayed by her own people. This duality makes her not only one of the most formidable foes in Starcraft, but one of the most iconic villains in modern gaming.

Maria from Silent Hill 2

You don’t often spend half of a game escorting someone whose goals are antithetical to your own, but Silent Hill 2 does just that with Maria. James story is one of loss, grief, and (depending on the ending), acceptance but Maria’s existence hinges on holding both James and the player back from the truth. Maria is a projection of James’ psyche meant to repress his guilt by representing a more immediately desirable version of his wife. Where his wife dressed in more traditionally conservative clothes, Maria dresses in a brightly colored, low cut shirt and miniskirt; where he was helpless to save his wife from her disease, Maria comes with the glimmer of hope that she can be saved from the tangible monsters. She stands as a roadblock to the acceptance of his past actions– why think about your dead wife when there’s a projection to protect right in front of you? If the player is swayed by this projection and gets the “Maria” ending, they trade the more fulfilling and difficult acceptance and progress of other possible endings for an outcome that dooms James to repeat past transgressions.

That does it for our top six female antagonists.  Join us next time for our top female protagonists, and be sure to subscribe to our channel to keep up-to-date on our latest videos and reviews

GlaDOS: [CLAP CLAP CLAP] Oh good, my slow clap processor made it into this thing. So we have that.

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