"They call me a killer. A monster. A terrorist... I am all of these things."
The protagonist, a man who wakes up in the GENTEK morgue with bizarre and horrifying powers and no knowledge of events prior to that point, aside from his name and that he was once a scientist. Confused, enraged, and determined to reclaim his past, he sets out to do so by hunting down his old colleagues.In truth, the creature acting as the protagonist is not Mercer but the Blacklight virus, which was released by the real Alex Mercer moments before he was shot dead and infected. The virus animated his corpse and came to believe it was him; however, evidence suggests that their personalities differ quite sharply. Voiced by Barry Pepper in the first game and Darryl Kurylo in the sequel.
Ax-Crazy: it doesn't depend on whether you don't go after civilians or do, because either way, your target is gong to be subjected to a lot of homicidal fury which usually ends in the victim killed gruesomely or being lunch.
However, after Heller consumes Alex at the end of Prototype 2 and absorbs his memories, Dana can be heard remarking that they used to play games, skate, and watch scary movies together. So, apparently he wasn't always like this.
Amnesiac Dissonance: No matter how much of a monster you play Alex as, the man whose form he took was worse.
Badass Bookworm: In addition to being a former scientist, he absorbs the knowledge of anyone he consumes, and he'll consume upwards of thirty scientists completing the Web of Intrigue - though he doesn't exercise it much.
Becoming the Mask: Played with. The real Alex died; the player character is just The Virus using him as a mask. But the virus has some redeeming qualities and is fiercely protective of Dana.
Berserk Button: Lots of things, but especially don't hurt his sister or throw innocent people into his path to save yourself.
Bigger Bad: The real Alex is not only responsible for the outbreak, he created the virus.
Big Eater: Soldiers, civilians, infected, Hunters; he can and will absorb thousands of them alive (and in the humans' case, whole) throughout the game. One of the Achievements is even called Endless Hunger.
Blood Knight: He actually seems excited at the prospect of fighting a whole pack of car-sized flesh monsters. The player will likely disagree.
Determinator: The Blackwatch only ever manage to slow him down, even once he becomes their biggest threat and they throw everything they've got at him. Not because of his powers; he's just straight up too angry to quit. Although being able to tear steel with his bare hands and survive rockets to the face doesn't hurt.
Driven to Villainy: Nobody ever asked him whether he wanted the powers he has, or whether he wanted to be treated like a monster. That he acts like one is in some sense a function of his circumstances, at least at first. The trope is ultimately played straight, subverted, and inverted.
Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The only colours in his face are the red circles under his eyes; even his lips are pale. He looks like he last slept when he was dead.
The Empath: In a very messed up way, he absorbs so many people that their screaming in his head forces him to develop a conscience. He is extremely unhappy about that.
Extreme Melee Revenge: The default animation for consuming a Web of Intrigue Target sees Alex knock his victim to the ground, pin them, and then just punch them viciously, over and over until their faces cave in. It's so brutal it even sprays blood on the camera.
From a Single Cell: Even after getting nuked, all he needs is a few scraps of his body and some biological matter and he's back in business.
Hates Being Touched: Quite minor, and for one scene, but Alex's reaction to Karen's welcoming embrace is to freeze uncomfortably and then shrug her off. Understandably, nobody else ever even tries to approach him with affection and he never approaches anyone likewise — except once, with Dana, trying to comfort her.
Humanoid Abomination: After The Reveal, it is revealed that he is a human-shaped pile of The Virus that took the original Mercer's memories and form. You've been playing as The Virus all along, with it thinking that he was Mercer. However even after this revelation, he still shares Mercer's form and protectiveness of Dana despite him not really being her brother.
Hurting Hero: He's clearly hurt by Dana's reaction upon seeing him killing a Blackwatch soldier, and then again to a greater (but more subtle) extent when he confesses that he can hear the voices of the people he's killed inside himself but believes that killing "feels right". He later apologises and she tentatively accepts him again right before a Leader Hunter bursts through her wall and kidnaps her.
Immune to Bullets: Functionally if not completely. Unless you're playing on Hard, it takes a lot of massed gunfire to even come close to damaging him. In cutscenes, he's able to get up from being shot by five guys armed with assault rifles and doesn't appear to be any worse off for the favor.
Jerkass: Selfish, vicious, violent, devoid of tact, almost hilariously bad at showing or receiving affection, and either borders on or is actively sadistic depending on the player. The original Mercer went beyond "just" being a jerk, but his influence is likely at work.
Lightning Bruiser: The only thing in the game that can keep up with him is an attack helicopter, which he can kill in two hits. On the Infected side of things, Hunters and Leader Hunters are technically faster, but suffer in maneuverability.
Oh, Crap: Seeing the two pathologists who were examining him get executed by Blackwatch, getting his cover blown infiltrating a Blackwatch announcement, and an unexpected Infected attack disrupting his plan to "interrogate" McMullen. Although, being Alex, his version of that last one is a little more M-Rated: "SON OF A BITCH!"
One-Man Army: Within the city are Blackwatch, a merciless paramilitary organization aided by the U.S. Military, and a virulent, devastating, Zombie Apocalypse causing virus, and both sides rightfully regard Alex Mercer as the single most dangerous thing there.
The Sociopath: Mercer is diagnosed a narcissist and a sociopath in one Web of Intrigue cutscene and the lack of a Karma Meter - along with the sheer scope for destruction that his powers have and the way they're fuelled - means he'll be doing some awful things in the name of his goals. He rarely displays so much as a flicker of regret for the murder, mass-murder, mass-cannibalism, all kinds of destruction, collateral damage... However, subverted in that he does have regrets, even if only Dana and Cross ever see them. That diagnosis was more likely for the original Mercer.
Spanner in the Works: It turns out that a super-strong shape-shifting man-eating psychopath with an intense hatred for Blackwatch tends to screw up their plans. Funny how that works.
Super Strength: Alex at a base level will kill humans in one hit and can lift cars. If you stack Musclemass on top of that, Alex can pitch cars over a city block and gib people in one hit.
Taking You with Me: The original Alex released Blacklight when he was cornered by the Blackwatch. it seems he didn't believe in half-measures - if he was going down, he was taking potentially the entire human race with him.
Tomato in the Mirror: Alex Mercer is hunting down the scientists behind the virus, including whoever caused the Penn Station outbreak. As it turns out, he'sThe Virus. And the man who designed it and caused the outbreak? Alex Mercer.
Unstoppable Rage: His ground state of being. He's an angry, angry abomination against God, man, and nature.
Unwitting Pawn: Every bad guy manipulates him for their own gain at one point or another. He doesn't like it.
Woobie Destroyer Of Manhattan: You can't help but feel bad for Blacklight-Alex a lot of the time. Surprise! You died. Surprise! You have no memory. Surprise! You unleashed a plague onto Manhattan. Surprise! YOU DID IT TWICE. (Although only the first time was intentional.) Surprise! You're not really you! Surprise! YOU ARE THE VIRUS. Surprise! The original guy was evil! Surprise! You have a conscience now! Surprise! That means you feel like shit about everything! Surprise! Your not-sister's been kidnapped! Surprise! The city's going to be nuked! The guy just can't catch a break. Granted, this is later subverted by that very same conscience, which makes Alex decide that he doesn't want to make all of the people who get in his way die a horrible death because of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge after all. Just certain people.
Younger Than They Look: Alex looks to be in his late twenties and indeed, the original Mercer was 29, but the viral copy is only 18 days old by the end of the game. He is, however, also ageless; he'll never look any older, either. As long as he keeps fed and whole, he could conceivably live forever.
A God Am I: Debatable in the sequel in accordance with his plan. He even tells his sister that the viral monsters are "no longer bound by life and death", and his Motive Rant includes a proclamation that he will create a perfect "new world".
Affably Evil: In the sequel toward Heller. He even tries to recruit him and teaches him how to absorb memories from his consumption targets. Testimony from his Evolved indicates he's genuinely fond of Heller, and he claims he's disappointed in him for disrupting his plans. Even when he makes the decision to kill Heller off, he tries to give him a quick, clean, merciful death. It's only when that fails that the claws come out, and he never stops trying to convince Heller to join him.
All There in the Manual: The comic book story The Anchor explains the reason for his Face-Heel Turn; after stopping the nuke, Alex lost faith in humanity and took to Walking the Earth in the hopes that he could find something to restore said faith. Instead, Alex just kept finding more and more reasons to think that Humans Are Bastards, which culminated in a woman he had become attracted to stealing his money and shooting him point-blank in the face while openly declaring she only cared about herself. It was this that cemented Alex's change from fighting Blacklight to embracing it.
Bad Boss: Berates his underlings during Web of Intrigue segments and consumes them all to boost his own powers.
The Dreaded: Unsurprisingly, given all the chaos he caused and is still causing; at the beginning of the game, Red Crown's response to learning Alex is in the Red Zone is a very justified "Oh, shit!"
Expy: In the sequel, the similarities to long-standing Resident Evil villain Albert Wesker (particularly his characterization in Resident Evil 5) are too numerous to ignore. Both are intellectual, with scientific backgrounds (though Mercer's are borrowed), who started an endemic with a weaponized virus, who wish to wipe the scourge of humanity with a bioweapon of mass destruction, are extremely dangerous warriors augmented with the same virus they plan to use to wipe out the planet, and all of the aforementioned viruses result in veiny, bulbous, tendrily, organic shapeshifting monsters. Both have a Femme Fatale businesswoman associate whom they betray towards the end of the game. They even have a similar mode of speech and a tendency to keep their red eyes hidden.
Large Ham: He is much more animated this time around - gesturing grandly and making more of a meal out of his lines than his actual meals (which he seems to have given up).
Manipulative Bastard: He has infected numerous individuals, called Evolved, with his strain of the Blacklight Virus and planted them in high-ranking positions in Blackwatch and Gentek to serve as spies. He also tries to manipulate James Heller into helping him out, but makes a crucial mistake that clues Heller into his real motives - mentioning that together they will destroy Gentek and Blackwatch... but not the virus.
Not So Different: Remember his disgust with Greene and his original incarnation? His actions in the sequel are near-identical to theirs. He even returns to Penn Station where the original Mercer was shot dead to release the virus a second time, apparently in the name of drama.
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Heller, he teaches him the ropes of his new powers and expects him to join the other Evolved. It seems he didn't even factor in what would happen if Heller, or any other Evolved went rogue and fought against him.
No Sense of Personal Space: In his cutscenes with Heller (and in contrast with the first game), he has a habit of putting his hands on Heller's shoulders or chest as a means of seeming more sincere.
One-Winged Angel: He spends most of the game appearing outwardly human, but when push comes to shove and after consuming the Evolved, his body becomes significantly more monstrous. Along with his old Shapeshifter Weapons distorting his form, his limbs become bloated and discoloured, spines erupt from his back, he's covered in blood, and his eyes glow red.
Pet the Dog: Quite nice to Heller, at first - teaching him how to consume targets and gain memories from them and informing him that consuming the more monstrous Infected will give him new powers. He also never actually goes so far as to kill Dana even when she's trying to disrupt his plans wherever possible. Before his final fight with Heller, he hides both Dana and Amaya safely out of the crossfire.
To the Pain: Vows this against Heller after failing to kill him:
Alex: "It would've been quick. But now... I'm gonna make you suffer."
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Implied. Alex has since then given up fighting in favor of raising an army to oppose humanity. This was especially evident during the final confrontation between him and Heller, instead of attacking head on and gang up on him with his fellow Evolved, he absorbs them to make himself strong enough to fight. In fact, if one were to get use to the fight with Mercer, he's not really that much of a threat. Also, when Heller foils one of his plans, he never attempted to execute him and instead kills Guerra.
"Someone's gotta know what the fuck is going on here."
Alex's younger sister and the first person he remembers after he awakes. A journalism student and spitfire with a sharp tongue and an inquisitive mind, she loves and idolises her older brother, despite not having seen him in five years, and acts as his intelligence gatherer and data analyst. Voiced by Lake Bell in the first game, and Lindsay Ames in the sequel.
Et Tu, Alex?: Definitely her reaction in the second game when Alex imprisons her inside a bank vault with Amaya.
I Have No Brother: Tells Heller to kill Alex after finding out he had Galloway kidnap Amaya, as he is no longer her brother, and explicitly tells Alex as he stuffs her and Amaya in a bank vault that Alex is "dead now."
I Take Offense to That Last One: In Prototype 2, a bunch of drunken soldiers call her and Heller up and insult them, calling Dana a "pasty hacker cunt." Afterwards, Dana grips that she's "not pasty."
Intrepid Reporter: Only a student, but according to her character profile, she's naturally inclined this way.
Lady Swears A Lot: Though the entire game is hardly stingy with the F-bombs, she swears as often as the soldiers do.
Mission Control: You get most of the story missions for the first part of the game from her. Continues this tradition with Heller in the sequel after Guerra dies, for approximately the second half of the game.
Morality Pet: The only living being that Alex gives a damn about aside from himself. Also one of very few people in the game on speaking terms with stuff like ethics and sanity. Likewise, She is Heller's only friend and the only person he makes an effort to be nice to after Guerra's death.
Now What?: How she ends the second game. "What do we do now?"
Parental Substitute: Her character profile explains that this is the reason she trusts her older brother so absolutely; never knowing her father, Alex was the closest thing she had to a stable parental figure. Knowing this makes everythingrevealedabout her brother roughly a bazillion times more depressing.
Heller tries to convince her to take Amaya in if Heller is somehow not around. Though Dana's flustered, she and Amaya get along very well, and Amaya runs towards Dana when Heller's infection freaks out Amaya.
Plucky Girl: Not that it does her any good given the setting, but this college-age girl with no combat training and no superpowers insults the Blackwatch to their faces and actually headbutts one who put his hands on her. That Alex splatted the guy a second later in no way lessens her sheer chutzpah. On the optimism count, she never turns her back on her brother, always helping him even when he's just gotten through explaining that he eats people, in the sincere belief that he's still in there somewhere and knows what's right. She's wrong on both counts — about her real brother. Her fake one, oddly enough, is less of a bastard and genuinely cares.
Far less optimistic in the sequel, considering what her fakebrotherbecomes. Still ends up relatively okay, though.
She does show up in the sequel, however, as "Athena", Heller's contact and second Mission Control.
Alex's ex-girlfriend and a scientist like him; her picture still hangs on the wall of his apartment. She helps him create a cure for the virus ravaging Manhattan. One of the viruses, anyway. Specifically, Alex himself; Karen was (possibly) forced into working for Blackwatch and the "cure" turns out to be a parasite designed to kill him. Voiced by Vanessa Marshall.
A pathologist who knows some uncomfortable secrets, content to run the morgue in a teaching hospital in New York. He once worked for GENTEK, but quit on ethical grounds some time ago. Dana sends Alex to him in the hopes that he can cure the parasite. Voiced by Phil LaMarr.
The Director of Research at GENTEK; Alex's ex-boss, who knows more of Blackwatch's secrets than is healthy due to his insatiable scientific curiosity. This fascination extends to Alex's abilities and eventually leads to his death. Voiced by Paul Guilfoyle.
Mad Scientist: A subdued one, but he really wants to learn about The Virus, to the point that his curiosity gets him in trouble with Blackwatch because he keeps finding out things that they don't think he should know.
A highly skilled and dedicated member of Blackwatch who believes wholeheartedly in what they claim to fight for: protecting the American people from the threat presented by the virus, whatever it takes. He has a reputation for surviving and winning battles with even the most powerful infected creatures. Voiced by Jeffrey Pierce.
Arm Cannon: Sports an arm-mounted grenade launcher.
Good Is Not Nice: Cross might be significantly less insane than the rest of his division, but he's Blackwatch to the core. He'll throw men at Mercer to whittle him down, speak worryingly casually about helping Mercer eat his superiors, and while 'allied' with Alex tries pretty hard to get him killed. All for the greater good, but yeesh.
Green Eyes: It's hard to tell because of colour issues, but his character profile lists them as green. More to the point, his eyes are important because he is the only front line Blackwatch officer to leave them uncovered, humanising him for an eventual Heel-Face Turn.
Lightning Bruiser: Though the shock baton admittedly represents much of his damage potential, this man can dodge every blow Mercer throws at him so long as he isn't setting up for an attack with his arm-mounted grenade launcher.
Manipulative Bastard: A close examination of Cross's late-game actions reveals that he plays Mercer like a fiddle.
The current leader of Blackwatch, directing their movements in Manhattan. He has been in the organisation long enough to remember Hope, Idaho, and the methods used to contain it. Voiced by Gordon Clapp.
Authority Equals Asskicking: Not really. It's expected, since he's been fighting the virus virtually for his entire career and it was because of his orders and determination that Hope's infection didn't spread, but that was forty years ago when he had both arms. And indeed, when Alex finds him, he doesn't even go down with a fight.
Cutscene Boss: When Alex finally catches the bastard, he grabs Randall, yells at him, and throws him down before casually eating him in a cutscene. Considering Alex's power by that point, the alternative was probably a Zero-Effort Boss.
General Ripper: Randall wants to fight the virus however he can. If that means shooting innocent people, sending his men to die in a hopeless war, slicing his own infected arm off with a butcher's knife, nuking Manhattan and blaming theUnited States Marine Corps, or putting the virus in a position where it would do a huge amount of damage when it escaped to learn how to engage it properly, he will do it.
The Unfought: You don't really fight him, but you automatically gain his memory node after the the cutscene.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: He says outright that he believes all casualties of any outbreak and resultant purge are "sacrificial lambs" necessary to learn how to fight the infection and "save the world" and may or may not have deliberately engineered the catastrophe that was the Manhattan outbreak, just to learn how to fight the virus on a larger scale. That this outlook and method are balls crazyand result in things like nuking Manhattan only after Greene is dead and the infection is weakening (because she couldn't then be retrieved for further study) seems not to occur to him.
Colonel Ian Taggart
The leader of the Marines in Manhattan and Randall's second-in-command. Voiced by Richard McGonagle.
The last surviving inhabitant of Hope, Idaho, a town that was destroyed after being used as a testing ground for a biological weapon, to prevent the disease from spreading. She appears 'burnt out' and catatonic after forty years of experimentation by GENTEK. There is almost certainly no remnant of 'Elizabeth Greene' left; all that remains is the virus in an empty human host. Unfortunately, it is both intelligent and very patient. Voiced by Kari Wahlgren.
Hive Queen: Without a Runner like Greene or other directing force such as the Supreme Hunter or Alex, the lesser Infected remain mindless shambling zombies. However, with a Runner, it can think...
Humanoid Abomination: She still looks like a 19-year-old girl. She and Alex share many similarities (strong, fast, resilient, power over the virus) but aren't quite the same. Only Greene was once human.
It Can Think: And it is patient. If it's four years or forty years, the virus will wait in dormancy as long as it takes an opportunity to present itself, and during all that time, it plans. One mission revolves around Greene using infected people who haven't started showing symptoms as unwitting spies, their connection to the Hive Mind allowing her to receive information from them. After she dies, the outbreak loses its momentum almost completely.
Latex Space Suit: Her clothing is outright modelled on fetish clothing and wet-suits, resulting in a skin-tight latex body suit with a lot of straps in weird places.
Make Me Wanna Shout: In her boss fight, one of her attacks is a scream that sucks the colour from the screen and sends shockwaves over the battlefield that will knock you down to critical health if you don't move your butt.
The Virus: By some quirk of biology, her body was mutated by the original strain to create viruses; hundreds of them. Every single one displays very strange properties. Gentek's reason for holding her is to examine and try to manipulate the strains into doing useful things, such as enhancing human attributes, killing people in specific ways very very rapidly, strengthening immune systems, or eradicating cancer, among other purposes. She's insanely valuable to Blackwatch because she is the only living subject to display the ability.
After Alex removes the parasite, he attempts to kill Greene by using it on her, but her body rejects it. The result combines Mercer's and Greene's DNA and becomes something new: a creature with characteristics of both the Redlight and Blacklight viruses. It is not happy with its 'father' for attempting to destroy it.
Evil Counterpart: To Alex - roughly humanoid, just as smart (or smarter), same powers, and an independent entity, born from the virus and Elizabeth Greene but not under her thrall, just like Alex. Unlike him, it wants to control and spread the disease and it isn't even a little bit human.
Self-Made Orphan: First, it doesn't seem terribly distressed about Alex killing and absorbing Greene, its genetic 'mother'. Second, its purpose in life is to kill and devour Alex — implied to be at least in part because it resents him for not letting himself be eaten alive.
Of all the children born during Hope, Idaho's infection, only one did not suffer fatal defects within months of birth. Codenamed PARIAH by the military, the surviving child was forcibly separated from his mother, Elizabeth Greene, and moved to a secure facility for study and containment. He never appears in the game, but plays a fairly large part in the Web of Intrigue.
Bishonen Line: PARIAH shows no sign at all of infection with the virus, and yet McMullen theorises that he could bring about the end of life as we know it.
Blessed with Suck: Seems to kill anything he touches. As a result, he is kept either in a sealed cell or a courtyard surrounded by snipers and barbed wire.
Creepy Child: There are three pictures of him. One is him playing with a ball, one is him playing with blocks, and the third is him standing beside a mutilated corpse with a handful of blood. What is this kid?
Person of Mass Destruction: It's theorized by NPCs that if Alex Mercer and PARIAH ever came in contact with each other, the results could be beyond catastrophic.
Super Prototype: In a way, Alex is the production model of what PARIAH is naturally, and probably isn't even as good. His powers were artificially activated, whereas PARIAH's are natural; PARIAH is everything the virus is meant to be.
Sequel Hook: Averted in the second game; the sequel doesn't involve Alex looking for him. He is mentioned once as the assignment of Agent Barnes Griffin, and otherwise seems to have no bearing on events. But he's still out there...