One main bone of contention is whether Terry Fawles had special needs/mental issues or not. If he does, then it makes Dahlia even more evil for manipulating him, as he wouldn't have understood that being in love with a 14-year old is squicky. If he doesn't, then many fans would lose sympathy for him completely. And if he does have mental deficiencies, that puts a whole new slant on the trial process of the game, since it's never brought up once that he may not be competent enough to stand trial.
As for Dahlia herself, there are a few people who think that she has a Freudian Excuse. In-Universe, her sister is among those people; Iris says that they had similar circumstances, but while Iris sees Bikini as a Parental Substitute, Dahlia had no one of the sort.
Godot. A Bunny-Ears Lawyer with deep personal issues, or a man driven nearly insane by his own guilt who manages to hide it behind a mask of simple eccentricity?. Perhaps a Knight in Shining Armor, steadfastly protecting the family of his beloved lady from devious plots that even The Hero was blissfully ignorant of? Or how about a self-righteous, self-pitying hero-wannabe, who was fine with arranging a murder-risky situation and then blaming said murder on his accomplice (and prosecuting against said person, no less), just so that he could live out his sexist savior fantasy and/or take revenge on long-dead foes.
Then there's Phoenix himself. The people who most accept his change in Apollo Justice are the ones that argue that he's always bent the law in the pursuit of the truth, and that he's always been a bit of a snarky jerk on the inside. Others think that the aforementioned people are going too far in interpreting Phoenix's actions and that he'd never go as far as he did in Apollo Justice. Is he a badass lawyer who managed to win cases which seemed downright impossible through a combination of intelligence and grit? Or is he a dumbass who simply lucked his way out of everything thrown at him?
One existing interpretation of Alan Wake is that the heroes of the story aren't Alan and Barry, but Tor and Odin Anderson, who wrote a couple of songs ("Children of the Elder Gods" and "The Poet and The Muse") that came true, describing Alan's quest to rescue his wife and defeat the Dark Presence. The entire game is, in this interpretation, an epic bit of Norse-inspired mythology written by the Andersons to defeat the Dark Presence.
The Faction Leaders from Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri. A rare case in that this is encouraged by the game, and whether the factions are good or bad depends largely on your play style.
Pravin Lal of The Peacekeeping Forces: Voice of humanitarianism or far too attached to his outdated ideals?
Prokhor Zakharov of The University of Planet: Bringer of the light of knowledge or ruthless, amoral Mad Scientist?
Miriam Godwinson of The Lord's Believers: Dogmatic luddite or Only Sane Woman in a far-too-rapidly technologically advancing world?
Sheng-Yi Yang of The Human Hive: Ruthless, self-serving despot or a man with a reasonable vision of Utopia and a firm belief that Utopia Justifies the Means?
Corazon Santiago of The Spartan Federation: Defender of humanity against a hostile world or war-crazed gun-nut?
Deidre Skye of Gaia's Stepdaughters: Advocate of peace and balance, or eco-terrorist with a taste for Mind Rape?
Nwabudike Morgan of Morgan Enterprises: Believes in liberty or believes in profit?
Antichamber: The black block (the only thing in the game that you could tentatively call a character) is pretty creepy, so it's easy to think of it as an antagonist, a tease, an Eldritch Abomination, etc. But you could also interpret it as just...lost. It seems to be trying to find its way home. This also gives us an alternate interpretation of the player's role instead of just being "the player", you're a hero of sorts. This poor black block can't find its way home, and you swoop in to save the day and personally escort it back to its proper place. With this in mind, the Gainax Ending can feel like a Heartwarming Moment.
Another theory is "half-baked Simon Cowell knockoff." Seems to be the thing these days. Really, is there any other reason for being so rude to someone who saved his life? Even gets a bit of a lampshade in the Carnival Performers file.
Even more possible is pretty severe inferiority complex (Shaun is a historian and analyst, so he may be feeling a bit inadequate in the company of biology and computer specialists) masked by fake cockiness. His complex may be exacerbated by the fact that his female colleagues seem to be focused entirely on Desmond. Even though he is an Assassin, doesn't have much of actual ''assassination'' skills or general self-defense skills compared to the rest... He gets spooked on a food run, where the job description of Assassin will have you handle much worse.
Some have interpreted that Shaun may have secretly harboured feelings for Lucy, so he's jealous of the growing attraction between her and Desmond, hence the reason for his open hostility.
Andrew Ryan from BioShock has numerous different interpretations, not surprising given his politically charged nature. Its easy to view him as a tragic figure who tried to make a city that championed free will above all else and had to become the evil that he sought to destroy in order to keep the government from his city. He could have also just been trying to create a city where he, and he alone, was allowed to reach his full potential and enjoy unmitigated freedom. From a more objective (hehe) standpoint it seems to be a little of both. While its extremely unlikely that he founded rapture just so he could be its tyrant (after all everything in the city talks about the evils of tyrants and government), he didn't act entirely selflessly and fairly either. How much of his actions are done for the sake of ideology and how much is done for himself alone is still very much up for debate.
Batman in the Batman: Arkham Series. Is he a deeply traumatized, overprotective father figure to his followers, or a JerkassControl Freak who is in it only for himself, and refuses to trust or acknowledge what his allies are actually capable of? Batman: Arkham Knight rises more questions due to his Joker infection. Is the Joker hallucination fueled by his own mindset, is it the Joker's fault, or are his followers, while certainly capable, liabilities that keep getting themselves captured?
There are many interpretations available for each BlazBlue cast, but the biggest one for the moment would be Litchi Faye-Ling, especially after her FaceHeel Turn. Is she a genuinely kind person cornered in a completely bad situation that as much as she didn't like it, she would have to join NOL/Hazama while juggling her morality if she wants a shot at survival and the cure for the person she loves? Or is she a completely selfish woman who is obsessed at Arakune that will join ANY faction who can offer the cure for Arakune, even if it is even worse than NOL/Hazama, completely disregarding her morality?
There is a Tumblr site called Takamagahara Texts that takes entries from Texts From Last Night and puts them in the mouth of members of the BlazBlue cast as if they were said during cutscenes. Most of these use slightly exaggerated versions of the characters' personalities for comedic effect, but some of them have ended up being the go-to for entries on a given subject. As a result, we have Kagura Mutsuki, world's greatest frat boy, Makoto Nanaya, nymphomaniac extraordinaire and Trinity Glassfille, who's retained her canon kind-heartedness but apparently also does a lot of shrooms. * Also, anything regarding cats will end up somehow involving Nine.
Xion from the Bloody Roar series officially isn't evil; when not possessed by one of a handful of floating spirits, he's a fairly boring neutral. Given, however, that he's spent the majority of the games possessed and trying to directly harm the planet or the heroes, most people consider him inherently twisted.
Some people interpret the events of Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! to argue that Jack was initially a decent person, but was pushed into villainy by the actions of Moxxi, Roland and Lilith. But paying closer attention to his behavior throughout the game, and remembering Angel's timeline as established in the previous game, makes it clear that Jack was never a decent person. He'd imprisoned his Siren daughter to exploit her powers for his own benefit long before the events of the Pre-Sequel, and within the actual game, he spacedthe scientists before he was "betrayed" by the Vault Hunters. The events of the game don't turn Jack evil; they force him to reveal the evil that was already there.
Is Arianna a whiny, entitled brat who wants to destroy everything that doesnt meet her impossible standards, or is she merely a scared girl lashing out at an unfamiliar world with a power she cant handle? Was she acting mainly out of jealousy, a sense of betrayal, or a fear of the unknown? What about her relationship with STORM? Is she the one controlling it, or is it somehow controlling her? And what would she have been like if she hadnt found it to begin with?
After her last support conversation, Tyalie is ripe for this. Just how much of her Genki Girl behavior is an act? Does it start out genuine, and then become an act as the game gets closer to ending? If it is an act, then what is she really like? And does she reach out to the player because shes genuinely thankful for what theyve done, or is she just trying to ensure that she wont be forgotten?
She stresses the idea that all fiction is equally true, so arent all of these interpretations right? Whatever you believe about Tyalie, then thats canon for the version of her living in your mind.
Anonymous. Is he a Jerkass whos only helping to save the world For the Lulz, and because Catie is his Morality Chain? Or does he truly have a good heart that he hides for fear of looking uncool? Similarly, is Tils harshness towards him justified, or is she being excessively mean?
In Bully fanon, the Greasers are often portrayed as nice guys — when in the game they're the misbehaving students (next to the actual bullies) like you see in every school. Gary is often portrayed as a Jerkass Woobie and Jimmy Hopkins is... the title's sake, a Jerkass bully.
Some signs to show that even if Jimmy is a bully, he has standards when he tries to bring order back to the school, tells the bullies to stop picking on weaker kids, and is storyline-wise never shown being mean to a girl or young kid. (In fact; harassing girls and kids, especially beating them up, is considered among the worst things you can do.)
"Belmont's Revenge, in my opinion, refers to Soleiyu's revenge against his father, against his bloodline, and against his hated destiny. Given that it causes the resurrection of Dracula and sends his father out on another death-defying adventure to stop the world's ultimate evil, that's a pretty good teenage angst scheme. There's all sorts of metaphors for growing up and accepting your situation in the world here, if you look hard enough." (Beat) "Or maybe I'm just looking harder than the developers did."
Most characters in Chrono Cross are prone to have many different interpretations due to most of them having strange accents and short screen time, especially the minor characters. Many fanfic authors either modify or remove the strange accent that belongs to a character.
Serge is a silent protagonist in the game, but in fanfics, many authors let him talk.
Civilization: Beyond Earth: Practically every single player has a different take on each Affinity choice due to personal preference and roleplaying style. The general question is each Affinity radical, conservative or willing to Take a Third Option, but some of the more common interpretations are:
Clive Barker's Undying: Due to the fairly confusing ending and inconsistencies with the game's manual, there is some dispute over the motivation of Jeremiah.The Reveal involves Jeremiah stating that he has been Dead All Along and Evil All Along and that he used Patrick to kill off his siblings so that he could use the power of the Undying King for himself. However, the journal entries written by him in the manual after his "death" in World War I are written as though his "cover story" was true meaning that there are two general explanations: Jeremiah was telling the truth in The Reveal and the journal entries were misinformation- which leads to some Fridge Logic- or Jeremiah chose to lie to some degree during The Reveal and was trying to goad Patrick into killing him for an unknown reason.
Alternatively, some part of the old Jeremiah still survived and wrote the diary but, ultimately, the evil undead counterpart took over completely. As for goading Patrick into killing him with the Scythe, that was the point, to be final sacrifice for the Undying King to awake - the last Covenant was needed and Patrick couldn't have been a replacement.
That might even be too optimistic. Consider that, upon realizing the Undying King is about to break free, Jeremiah asks for help from Galloway, an old war buddy. How did the Undying King get sealed away originally again? By burying a warrior alive at the standing stones.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series: Is Kane just a megalomanical madman bent on dominating the globe by manipulating countless millions of followers to destroy his enemies, or does he honestly care about humanity and earnestly believe in his purported quest to help mankind evolve and ascend? (Kane's depiction varies considerably from game to game. The writers promised to answer the questions with the release of C&C4. They didn't. Not even one of them.)
Cuphead: It's hard to tell with the bosses since all you do is fight them, but not all of them seem inherently evil. After all, Cuphead and Mugman lose their souls to the Devil and aren't evil. At least some of the debtors probably aren't evil, but they are none too keen to lose their souls so all of them resolve to go down fighting.
Dark Souls invites this with every character, but most notably with the Primordial Serpents, Frampt and Kaathe.
Frampt, who's willing to use deception to allow the Age of Fire to persevere, is either a Well-Intentioned Extremist, or he simply wants he and/or his allies in Gwyn's family to maintain their power.
Likewise, Kaathe could be honest in his intention to give rise to mankind by ushering in the Age of Dark, or he's being just as deceitful as Frampt, and that the Age of Dark will not be good for any mortal.
In the Dark Lord ending, both Frampt and Kaathe pledge to serve you. Does this mean that they were always working together to play both sides?
Gwyndolin gets hit with this pretty hard. Is he the true villain of the game who drove away the other gods so he could rule Anor Londo himself? Is his desire to continue the Age of Fire at the expense of the player make him the ultimate enemy of mankind? Is he a fiend who uses deception to rule and manipulate others merely to benefit himself? Is he a pragmatist who is aware of how disastrous the coming darkness will be for everyone, not just the gods and realizes that some sacrifices must be made? Is his status as the last deity in Anor Londo not something he actually intended? Is his use of the illusory Gwynevere a sign of vulnerability rather than manipulation? Is he secretly Velka, the black haired witch goddes of sin?
Griggs is unambiguously a spy for Vinheim. Is he really the Nice Guy he appears to be?
Abysswalker Artorias; Did he become a monsters by succumbing to darkness or was he convinced by Kaathe that the Age of Fire needs to end, and that the Age of Darkness, of Humanity must begin? Was his covenant with the Darkwraiths an alliance of convenience with Kaathe, so that he could gain the power to easily hunt the Darkwraiths? Find out in the PC version! (Or not.)
Dark Souls II: Much the same as its predecessor, several characters' motivations are hard to pin down exactly.
Queen Nashandra: Though apparently out for power over the Throne of Want, and by extension the First Flame, some of her motives are a bit harder to pin down. Was she a queen of a differen kingdom before she came to Drangleic? Was her warning about the Giant invasion just a lie to stir up trouble, or were the Giants indeed planning invasion and she turned the situation to her advantage? How much of the Undead curse was her doing? Is her desire to make the Undead hero "one with the Dark" simply the removal of an unneeded chess piece, or a kinder fate than Shanalotte intended? What would she have done with the Throne's power if she had gotten it?
Scholar of the First Sin casts some light on a few of these, most pertaining to Aldia: he isn't the Ancient Dragon, but he IS the titular Scholar, and has become an Eldritch Abomination to boot. However, it raises many others. What is his purpose for guiding the player on their journey? Does he wish to preserve the Age of Fire, or is he trying to usher in the Age of Dark? Does he seek a different outcome entirely? Or is he simply interested in seeing what the player will decide for themselves and doesn't really care about the outcome? Is he related in some way to the Bed of Chaos as his appearance seems to suggest? What is exactly is the First Sin and what connection does it have to the balance of Light and Dark?
Loghain Mac Tir. Was he a tyrant drunk on power and willing to do anything, including betray his principles, his country and his own family, rather than lose that power and who sat idly by, fixating on a personal obsession with Orlais and those he paranoidly insists are in cahoots with them while the darkspawn rampaged unchecked across Ferelden? Or a true patriot honouring a lifetime of work in ensuring Ferelden's culture and freedom, no matter the cost? In both game-universe and among the fans, this is a hotly debated matter.
Arl Eamon Guerrin. Is he the Big Good, trying to unite Ferelden before it's too late to stop the darkspawn and insisting on putting Alistair on the throne to preserve the royal bloodline and Fereldan tradition? Or an opportunist using a boy he cast aside as a political tool to both get rid of a family of upjumped commoners with no claim to the throne and set himself up in a position of great power as chief advisor to the new king?
Queen Anora. Is she the High Queen, willing to do all that's necessary to preserve and protect Ferelden's people? Or like her father, is she just so accustomed to her power and her position, she would do anything, including betray her father and allies, to keep her position? And is her refusal to rein in Loghain's excesses until the very end simply unwillingness to act against her own father, or to try and scare a recalcitrant and hostile nobility into line?
Thomas MacLaine. Was he simply homosexual and enjoyed dressing up as a woman or is he actually a transsexual woman? Players are divided between the first and second option, though the game neither denies or admits either option. Quite the opposite, it gives enough evidence for both, while remaining ambiguous.
Strangely enough, Kaysen's dog, Willie, was talked a lot about. Then Word of God kicked in. Since Willie was clearly more than just a regular dog, it was figured he was likely a deity. But was he benevolent or evil? According to the creators, Willie is the latter. He is Kaysen's keeper, his connection to the Red World and giving him information.
The original Raincoat Killer, a complete monster or more a mercy killer? When Harry recollects the events, the Raincoat Killer comes across as a beast, who killed anyone who came too close and even attacked his own son. Then, when the player actually experiences the events from the Raincoat Killer's point of view, he appears more like his killing the villagers was a mere act of ending their suffering the fastest way, when he realized that he couldn't stop the purple fog anymore.
The Illuminati and Morgan Everett in Deus Ex. Are the Illuminati against MJ12 because MJ12 controls the U.N., so, is in the position where the Illuminati want to be? Or is it because they believe that MJ12 aren't doing what is best for the world? Is Morgan's hypocrisy a sign that he is no better than MJ12 or that he needs to be the lesser of two evils? Given the fact there are sign of both sides, the answer's a guess at best.
Tracer Tong: dangerously naive idealist, or the only one who wishes to bring freedom to humanity? Does he work for the Triads for protection, uses them as his tool, or does he just not care about the drug trade and human trafficking?
Vergil is ostensibly a power-hungry villain, but some fans believe this hunger developed from being too weak to save his (and Dante's) mother from demons when they were younger. His bio in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 seems to support thisview.
It's possible, however unlikely, that Dante as depicted in DMC3 and DMC4 is actually something of a Genius Ditz, spitting out cliche one-liners and corny catchphrases while at the same time dishing out obscene amounts of punishment to the damned in the most stylish fashion imaginable.
It's been shown that Dante's usual opponents are demons who are, at least on a base power level, far stronger than he is. However, Dante is no slouch himself, and has the advantage of appearing human. So he acts like a jerk in order to piss off the demons, goading them into making stupid mistakes (thinking he is just a human with a big mouth) and then thrashing them with his unexpected strength in their moment of weakness. Dante has been shown to be extremely efficient when he is sure of what he is up against (see the opening of DMC4, not a pun made, just wham bam blast the old man) or when he knows his opponent has his measure (like Vergil).
Dante's final line (complete with a Cheshire Cat Grin) in DMC3 right before he and Lady team up to kick demon ass ("Well bring it on! I love this! This is what I live for! I'm absolutely crazy about it!") makes him look like a bit of a Blood Knight when it comes to demon hunting. However, when you consider all of the crap he had to deal with in no more than the span of a day or two (never mind Dante mourning Vergil's "death" not too long before that moment), it wouldn't be out of the question to interpret this as a physically and emotionally exhausted guy forcing himself to enjoy this fight. It's not even completely incongruent with Dante's Let's Get Dangerous! moments across the board or his spiel to Trish in the first game that he's in the business with the hopes of eventually hitting the jackpot and avenging his family.
Dante in 2. With the game's placement at the farthest end of the timeline so that Capcom can continue to conveniently forget the black sheep of the series (at least until 5 came along many years later), something had to have happened to our favorite devil hunter between games to explain the glaring dichotomy his personality presents when juxtaposed against every other depiction of the character. Perhaps Dante finally mellowed out over the years, but some fans even go as far as to offer uptheories of amore cataclysmic nature. And the with the retcon to the timeline as of DMC5 that now places 2 before the events of 4, a common explanation is that Dante is having a depressive episode as a reaction to the events of the original game (namely Vergil's death), a funk that he doesn't fully recover from until meeting Nero—his nephew—in 4. (This line of thought is also a popular justification for Dante's less colorful personality in The Animated Series.)
Nero gets a degree of this in Devil May Cry 5. Is he challenging Urizen because the latter took his arm? Or is this a way for Nero to prove himself to Dante? Or was this out of guilt of losing Yamato and indirectly enabling the demon invasion? The fact that Urizen easily defeated Dante only a month ago suggested that Nero knows he has little chance of winning but continues to press forward. Is Nero recklessly overestimating his abilities, borderline suicidal or simply desperate and running out of time given the threat Urizen poses?
Delilah claimed that when they were children, Jessamine broke something and blamed her for it, leading Delilah to be beaten and her mother being fired and both of them being thrown out to the streets. Was Jessamine that cruel or was Delilah lying or rewriting history in her own mind?
Another interpretation is that Jessamine was a child who made a simple innocent mistake and might have been horrified by the unintended consequences. It is noted that the then-Spymaster and the guard-captain were the ones to violently beat Delilah and dismissed Delilah's mother. It also might be possible that Delilah's father was looking for an excuse to kick Delilah and her mother out as he had been uncomfortable with Delilah's insistence on being acknowledged and brought to court. So the above events all happened because Delilah's father wanted them gone.
In other games that feature them, both the Hero and Princess Lora are seemingly interchangeable with their Kenshin/Swordmaster versions. The Kenshin hero at least wears the armor of the original's artwork sometimes, but the Kenshin Lora has been given bright scarlet-pink hair and an elaborate gown compared to her redheaded (soft purple in some art), gold-dressed original.
Princess Lora has also been interpreted as Yandere for her tendency to say "But Thou Must!!" if you answer no to any of her questions. Thus, she forces you to carry her around, say you love her, and marry her.
Dragon Quest II: In Japan, the Prince of Sumaltria/Cannock is said to be "a slacker, a drinker, and an overall really fun guy". Overseas, he is a "studious young man immersed in his studies" and "easy-going", "doesn't like to hurry", and "[makes] side-trips".
On the surface, Debora of Dragon Quest V is a shallow, conceited, self-absorbed Rich Bitch, a sharp contrast with her pampered sweet little sister Flora. Nearly everything she says makes it clear that in her view, it's all about her. However, she can also be read as an extremely TSUN-TSUNTsundere, a Defrosting Ice Queen who fights to keep any vulnerabilities safely hidden behind a veneer of all-consuming Pride. Despite being spoiled rotten, it's made clear that she's The Unfavorite compared to her dear, gentle, sweet sister, who's loved by everyone while Debora herself is regarded with dismay. And if at least part of her attitude is a front, then the next question is: how much of it is an act, and how much is simple self-confidence?
Dragon Quest VI: Terry. Is he a selfish asshole who only comes around after being beaten silly by the party, or is he a Hurting Hero whose desire to become the greatest swordsman is fueled by the trauma of seeing his sister kidnapped (and not for the first time, either), and only acts like a jerk in an effort to push potential friends away so he doesn't lose them too? Also, was his Deal with the Devil with Dhuran a selfish act of spite just to gain more power, or an act of desperation after the party unknowingly crushed his lifelong dream by finding the Sword of Ramia before he could?
Given Yangus is willing to toss aside his pride for Red and they wind up Walking the Earth as traders in the ending, he probably has a crush on her and is too shy to admit it.
Marcello. Manipulative, self serving Jerkass? Well-Intentioned Extremist? A little bit of both?
Just how much influence the Scepter has over its wielders isn't explicitly established, leading to some speculation on how much of the original personality remains intact.
Dragon Quest IX: Patty is generally depicted in one of two ways. From the her introduction up to taking her position at the bar in the Quester's Rest, she's vigorous, forceful, and blunt bordering on rude, but the rest of the time she's sultry and prone to lounging, as she appears in some official art and the game's opening movie.
Was Hendrik telling the truth to Jasper about always feeling inferior to him, or was he just telling his former friend what he wanted to hear so that Jasper could die happily?
Is Jasper's envy directed toward Sylvando as well as Hendrik? In act two Jasper wields the Silver Orb, which was taken from Don Rodrigo's villa some years before the game's events, according to a book in the mini medal academy. When the party face him at the Fortress of Fear, the collar of his costume evokes a flower -which are used in a number of Sylv's abilities and Pep Powers- and contains the very same heart symbol that is most likely Don Rodrigo's -and by extension Sylvando's- family crest. The very same heart pattern can be seen on The Don outfit, as well as the outer gates of Puerto Valor. It can be assumed he "stole" from Sylv because to Jasper, he was the person who took Hendrik away with the training in Puerto Valor, along with any chances he had of surpassing his old friend.
Is General Gaius a genocidal warmongerer who only cares about his kind? Or a patriot who's Just Following Orders and risks his own life to save a friend (Dust/Cassius, the amnesiac protagonist) from brainwashing? (In particular, his dialogue conflicts a lot with the Moonbloods' portrayal of him.)
"But Cassius is gone...as is the world we once loved. Cherish it."
The Shu Kingdom in general. Is it really the sapling for a new world of virtue and benevolence free from the bonds of the old, decadent and corrupt Chinese dynasties? Or are they just a nation of deluded Knight Templars who are only interested in glory and conquest? Worth pointing out that for all their talk of benevolence, in the ending of Dynasty Warriors Next, they pretty much do Kill 'Em All on their defeated enemies, much like Wei does (Wu, the most openly expansionist and aggressive nation, is interestingly the only one that allows the other warlords to live and even views them as valued allies with a rightful place in their new kingdom). Pragmatism, or a sign of Shu's darker side?
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, for example, has gone from a character similar in personality to Mickey Mouse, to Mickey's bitter and distrustful older half-brother. Although, being abandoned by Walt Disney, being replaced by Mickey, and living in a world of darkness and suffering for a few years might make this particular example a Justified Trope.
In several continuities, the Blot's just a crook who aspires world domination, but in Epic Mickey, he's an Eldritch Abomination made of Ink and Thinner, with the possible goal of erasing everything.
Is Piper Wright's reporting for the betterment or detriment of the Commonwealth? On the negative side, some of her articles can come across as fear-mongering that only breeds paranoia, focuses on less important subjects related solely to Diamond City and not the entire region, and make baseless accusations (like implying that Mayor McDonough, the leader of Diamond City, is an Institute Synth). She's also prone to asking people rather invasive questions in a very abrupt manner that only seem to unnerve them. Complicating matters is that it's implied that the latter-most is more due to her own invasive personality (which she herself doesn't like and is trying to get ahold of), and the answers she gets back are also more than not just examples of her interviewees' stupidity/ignorance. Relatedly, there's the fact that many of her articles do try to inform, but are held back by the limits of available resources in the Commonwealth for journalism, and that she deliberately tries to write for Diamond City's audience first because they have the highest population of literate people in the Commonwealth (although she still tries to write some articles focused on other parts of the Commonwealth). Also, she wasactually right about Mayor McDonough being an Institute Synth, and it's possible that further evidence discussing her theory was either planned to be discussed in future editions, or was held back deliberately because of Piper's very appropriate fear of the Institute/McDonough retaliating upon her little sister Nat if her theory was right. There's also the fact that the game actually has some (admittedly subtle) Foreshadowing for McDonough being a Synth: When they see Piper and yell for them to leave their office, their voice gains a noticeably mechanical undertone like a malfunctioning computer.
As with any good RPG protagonist, the Sole Survivor falls into this. Aside from the "new" personalities that the player(s) is able to imprint upon them, there's their vocal responses to people. Is their somewhat understated voice acting, occasionally awkward facial animations, stilted and shortened sentences, and near-constant bitter sarcasm just limitations of the game's technology and part of the game's writing, or representative of how (after the nightmarish opening sequence) they're continually suffering through a Heroic BSoD combined with Survivor Guilt and are trying to use sarcasm as a coping mechanism? Further complicating matters is the fact that the canon backgrounds for the male and female Sole Survivors (respectively) are a retired combat veteran-turned-househusband that fought in the Battle of Anchorage (one of the most horrific conflicts during the Resource Wars) and a retired military lawyer-turned-housewife that recently gave birth. Both of those origins mean that it's more than possible for the male Sole Survivor to be suffering from shell-shock, and the female Sole Survivor is suffering from a form of post-partum depression.
Mayu can be viewed several different ways. Is she a sweet, helpless girl who the main antagonist has taken particular interest in and who you want to keep safe at all times? Is she an irritating little wimp who you need to keep safe at all times? Or is she an obsessively crazy young woman who deliberately fell off a cliff just to guilt Mio into staying with her forever?
There's an in-universe example that appears to apply to Ayako:
Sakuya: That child goes around with an air of evil and fear around her, but I know she is really very gentle and vulnerable.
Alma, of F.E.A.R: is she a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds with a major Freudian Excuse, or is she an evil, crazy, ghost of an evil, crazy, girl with psychic powers who does terrible things for no reason, and was was killed off for the good of the world?
"I like the glow of Locust blood in this light." "You've got a sick mind, Tai."
Augustus Cole is The Big Guy of the game's Five-Man Band. A former Thrashball player (essentially an Expy of the NFL), he always shown to be upbeat and fearless, usually spouting some sports-related terminology ("We're going into overtime," and "Get back in the game, Baby!" are both things he says upon reviving a downed teammate). He is only playable as the viewpoint character once in the entire series, for half a chapter in Gears of War 3. In that chapter, he starts hallucinating (or possibly just vividly reminiscing, since it occurs on the field of his team's home stadium, where he later the best games of his career), seeing his enemies as players on a rival Thrashball team as he recklessly charges across the battlefield. After this, one has to wonder if maybe Cole has been so upbeat and fearless because he was playing Thrashball in his head for the entire war.
The novelizations by Karen Traviss include a scene where Bernie Mataki finds Cole writing a letter to his mother. He says he writes to her as often as he can. Then he says she died on E-Day, which was over fifteen years ago. Clearly Cole has had to develop some coping mechanisms over the years.
The Locust themselves, while portrayed as bloodthirsty, mindless, genocidal monsters from the human's point of view, the backstory reveals that the Locust only attacked humanity first because they were certain that humanity would wipe out the Locust if they knew they existed, not to mention that the locust, far from being mindless, are all highly intelligent, tactically minded individuals.
Shimura taking in Jin and wishing to formally adopt him. While there is no doubt that Shimura geniunely cares deeply for his nephew, did he take Jin out of the goodness of his heart or did he do so in hopes of preventing Jin from developing the Combat Pragmatist ways Jin's father was hinted to have, fearing for Jin and clan Sakai's reputation?
Also, there is Shimura's insistence of abiding by the strict samurai code or is he more aware of the politics at play? He is shown not having any trouble keeping a pirate alive if he is useful and it seems the shogun does not care about Shimura other than a speed bump for the Moguls so the mainland can prepare. With this in mind and the shogun later putting a bounty on Jin's head for going against the samurai ways, it's possible that Shimura is aware what the mainland will do to a Jito who doesn't follow orders.
One possible interpretation for why Shimura is so uncaring of the casualties in retaking his castle is that many in his army are from Yarikawa, a clan that once rebelled against him. Every death that occurs is one less person Shimura may have to fight against later should the Yarikawa clan chose to rebel again.
There is Ryuzo's final confrontation with Jin after their betrayal. They ask Jin to tell Shimura that they were a Double Agent so they could be spared. Was Ryuzo a Dirty Coward trying to weasel their way out after all this time or were they intentionally trying to get Jin angry enough to make him kill them due to their guilt over their actions and losing all the Straw Hats?
Guild Wars canon gives a bit of a mixed message about the undead lord Palawa Joko. The background lore and the Battle of Jahai bonus mission seem to portray him as a genuine Evil Overlord, and teaser lore for Guild Wars 2 reveal that he will succeed at conquering Elona, but in all his other appearances he seems somewhat inept and comical at times. Some of the fans have tried to reconcile these, taking into account that Joko's something of a Draco in Leather Pants and the fact that his non-Battle of Jahai appearances were during an Enemy Mine with the player character by saying that Joko was Obfuscating Stupidity to make sure he seemed like the lesser threat and gain your sympathy, and generally keep the status quo intact (The game does not give you a choice).
Gordon Freeman from Half-Life. Is he a Messianic Archetype, a pure and just bringer of intervention when the time is right, or a monster with the intention of killing everything he can. Freeman's Mind puts him in the middle, as a self serving nutjob who thinks that gnomes are real, and would like one as a pet.
The G-Man faces just as much interpretation. Is he good? Evil? Selfish? Is he just working for a higher power? Is he Gordon from the future or something? Is he the "mystery element of Half-Life" that fans adore so much or a manipulative bastard who brought humanity near to extinction just because of his... e-employers? And of course, while deciding this, remember what he did to Adrian Shepard.
The second probably comes from the Expanded Universe with the Spartan-IIs' rather unfortunate conscription - the concept of John-117 being trained from a child wasn't explicitly stated in the games (apart from the "Final Grunt"Easter Egg) until Halo 4. Also, he was trained in the first place to surpress rebels who really did have some legitimate grievances against the UNSC. He could almost be considered a villain, and certainly is from the Covenant's perspective. He's slaughtered thousands of them, many of which were slaves forced to fight against their will, with the Unggoy (Grunts) in particular often running from you in fear and screaming for mercy (those who don't try to suicide-bomb you instead, anyways).
Almost, save for the fact that he's trying to stop the Covenant from not just killing all humans, but destroying the galaxy.
Very compelling. Exactly how much free will does John possess? Is he doing what he thinks is right, or what he's been forced into thinking is right? (Is there any difference?) Are his amazing feats the result of true heroism and ingenuity or exactly what he was designed to do? (Again, difference?)
In Halo: First Strike, he does have to decide while making a somewhat minor decision between what is morally right (preserving a friend's life) and what may possibly be best for humanity (ending it); he chooses the former.
Ever since 343i took over the franchise, this issue has been explored much more extensively, with the prologue to Halo 4 basically asking that very same question.note "Do you believe the Master Chief succeeded because he was, at his core, broken?" Ultimately, we finally get to see in the games that he does have a moral sense independent from that of his superiors when he defies orders to surrender Cortana. Master Chief even goes rogue in Halo 5: Guardians when he dreams of Cortana contacting him. When he discovers her FaceHeel Turn, he is noticeably disgusted with her body count, and simply asks to have her come home with him so that she can get psychological help.
The above all applies to every Spartan-II in existence by extension.
The Rookie from Halo 3: ODST could be thought of as merely another silent protagonist. But when you look at his history, you will find that he recently endured a horrific massacre of his previous squad and all other forces there, implying (though not directly stating) that he has some major PTSD.
Noble Six from Halo: Reach could qualify as a Tragic Hero along with his/her typical "hero" depiction when you think about it and have some knowledge of the Halo universe outside of the games. He/she was orphaned as a child by the war, "recruited" by the military not soon afterwards, and was one of only a few survivors from a roughly 300-strong SPARTAN-III company that were almost all killed in a suicide mission before they had even passed prematurely-induced puberty. Then on Reach, he/she fails to defend Reach, witnessing the death of most of his/her teammates (who themselves share the same backstory as him/her or the Chief) and all other friendly forces, and dies alone to top it all off.Not what you would call a happy life.
Proud Warrior Race Guys: They customarily welcome their defeated enemies into their ranks as brothers and forgive all sins at the end of wars, with many of them arguing for humanity to be allowed to join the Covenant rather than be entirely wiped out, and growing to later deeply regret the atrocities they had committed against humanity, with one Sangheili Shipmaster going so far as to lose his entire sense of meaning; he eventually decides to single-handedly wander a planet he personally glassed to find both atonement and a new purpose.
Jerkasses: Many of them are virulent racists who treat most other species abominably, even those allied to them, with the Grunts/Unggoy in particular regarded as little more than slaves to be abused. Additionally, a number of Elites, even after the Covenant was revealed to be founded on a lie, still want to finish their genocide against humanity. Additionally, even their sense of Honor Before Reason has a vicious edge to it, with torture being a common punishment for violating their code of conduct.
The Origami Killer a.k.a Scott Shelby from Heavy Rain. Is he really a broken person driven by his grief and dark past to kill in order to fulfill an insane "test" that even he knows is wrong, and trying to make up for the pain he caused by helping his victims' parents, or is he just a psychopathic manipulator using Lauren Winter and the others around him to achieve his ends, while covering his tracks?
It's a possibility that Ethan Mars, Madison Paige, Norman Jayden, and Scott all investigate the Origami Killer so that they could die.
Is Watanagashi-hen version of Shion a typical Yandere, an unlucky girl with a thorn in her heart because her true love has been taken away from her, or Wide-Eyed Idealist that couldn't stand out living in Crapsack World and just has to snap sooner or later, an immature girl unaware of her actions consequences until it's too late, or just girl that never been loved by anyone and her actions were desperate cry for help? Was her pollyanna-esque face only a mask to hide her longing or would she fully recover from loss if she had never meet Keiichi? Or everything at the same time?
Are Dr. Irie's jokes about his paedophilia tendencies only jokes, or something more....
Rika is ripe for this. Is she a poor, innocent girl trapped in an endless game she can't escape from, or is she a selfish (indirect) mass-murderer who will make everyone else suffer for her own happiness? Umineko: When They Cry's Bernkastel is essentially the second interpretation given form. This is conveyed well in the arguably Better Than Canon Silly Hat work seen here. Although even she could be given an alternate interpretation as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
Whether Sylens' cynical worldview is justified or not. He believes that humanity is a feeble thing and only through mutual gain and the chase of absolute truth do we better ourselves. While his actions helped shed light on the misunderstandings the new generation has regarding the Old Ones, Sylens' history with HADES, what he did to the Banuk, and Aloy's opinion of him seem to suggest that he isn't as benevolent as he thinks he is.
Jade Empire: Were the Brothers Sun actually in the wrong when it came to the siege of Dirge? The Empire was dying. Hundreds of thousands had perished already, and the drought would have continued for 3 more years, killing thousands more and collapsing the Empire. The Water Dragon had it in her power to end the suffering and refused. The Spirit Monks were perfectly willing to let more people die and civilization collapse in order to serve the whims of their Goddess. Cue one massive tragedy that leaves the Monks dead, the Emperor an insane ghost, the youngest brother's spirit bound to an abomination, and the surviving brother off in the backwoods planning to force Order back onto Creation. On the other hand, Sun Hai admits during the conversation with his daughter and his Motive Rant before fighting the hero that he was largely motivated by wanting to keep his throne, and given that his brothers try to betray him in order to seize power, it can also be argued that everyone involved was selfish.
While at first the Water Dragon may seem to be a Jerkass God for withholding water from the Empire, she really isn't when one takes a look at the way the world works. If she gave water to the Empire then another land would suffer their drought, she admits as much near the end of the game. People were going to die from drought no matter what she did, the only thing that would change is the location of the people dying.
She also states towards the end of the game that the Jade Empire was supposed to fall, so something new could be born. So it could that the drought was pre-destined and thus, she had no choice at all.
Is Daxter from Jak and Daxter a loudmouth, wise cracking, cowardly sidekick or secretly a great hero in waiting ready to take Jak's place if the time ever comes? Is what happened in his Gaiden Game the truth or is it just Daxter telling more tall tales?
Iwanko, the girl who confessed to Hisao on the day of his heart attack, visits him in the hospital for six weeks, their conversations growing more awkward over time, until she leaves for the last time, and months later, sends a "Dear John" Letter to him. She can be interpreted as callously casting him aside like his other old friends did, or having tried to be there for him, only to be unable to help him as his depression pushed her away. It helps that Hisao's opinion on her letter, ranging from tossing it aside in disgust (Lilly's route) to conceding that he had pushed her away (Shizune's route) depends on the route, and who, if anyone, he talks to about it.
There's also the question of how much of Kenji's misogynisticConspiracy Theorist personality is genuine, and how much is a facade, as well as what it could be a facade for. The fact that he used to have a girlfriend, and he bears no hard feelings toward her (pointing out that he only hates feminists), and he can show a kinder and more empathetic side on occasion can be interpreted as cases of him petting the dog or actually dropping his conspiracy theorist act when the situation warrants it.
The Nobodies are either uncaring monsters that act like people, entirely victims of propaganda, victims of manipulations, victims that have been manipulated into being uncaring monsters. Some of these seem to both be true, most commonly people point out that they certainly do monstrous things but it seems clear that everything DiZ says about them isn't true. (Others have said that "if Nobodies are a race, then Sora and Riku are guilty of genocide and Ansem is a racist.")
What Diz says is true, when talking about normal Nobodies. The problem is that he applies the same ideas to Roxas, who can and does feel emotions (which probably has something to do with Ventus), and Naminé, who he admits in the Secret Ansem Reports is a very unique case to begin with.
And then comes the big revelation in KH3D that Nobodies can grow hearts over time based off of their memories and that Xemnas and Xigbar neglected to tell this everyone else to further their own goals. Thus, in a sense, almost all of the fan interpretations of Organization XIII are true.
Also, because Naminé is often seen drawing, there's a good number of Yaoi Fangirls who think that she's... well, a Yaoi Fangirl.
Is Sora in the Fan FicKingdom Hearts: The Short and Honest Version really schizophrenic? It makes sense when you take into account all the Character Development he went through. Oh yeah, and Bob Marley's Ghost. And the others.
Due to graphical limitations and some ambiguous dialogue, Axel can be seen as an Ax-Crazy psycho in the original Chain of Memories. Not so much in the remake or sequels (he was certainly a cold-blooded killer in CoM, but the 3D version shows that it's clearly not of the psychotic variety) but the damage has been done.
Then there's the tons of fanwank over the various personalities of the members of Organization XIII when they're not trying to regain their identities and generally be evil. Most of these interpretations have been influenced by Flanderization, Draco in Leather Pants and the endless supply of Ho Yay connected to this group.
By the end of 358/2 Days, it's all made less confusing and pretty clear that none of the members, except perhaps Xion, Roxas, and (after he's sincerely befriended the two of them) Axel, can feel anything and are more than happy to murder or manipulate the fellow members of the Organization to further their own goals. This is exemplified by Xemnas himself who orders Xion and Roxas to fight to the death. He may have tried to arrange this before, too. In the end, Roxas defeats Xion and absorbs her, ending her existence entirely.
When Xion fights Roxas, she is not only attacking him but taunting him despite that they're friends. It's actually highly possible to see this as a Thanatos Gambit since Roxas still benefits from her supposed death. They're so close to each other that Xion's willing to sacrifice herself so Roxas can go on living and benefit... which some people will do.
Why did Kain choose to reign the Nosgoth instead of saving it? Does he seek balance or total annihilation of humans? Does he respect Raziel, or is he just a pawn to him?
In fact, this trope can be — and has been — applied to nearly all significant characters in the series. Raziel: Genuine villain turned-hero-seeking-redemption or vengeful Axe-Crazy maniac with delusions of grandeur? Moebius: Magnificent Bastard, Well-Intentioned Extremist or just another clueless pawn? Vorador: Gluttonous sado-hedonist or a disillusioned cynic? Ariel: Helpful spirit or undead manipulator? The Elder God: Parasite? God? Parasite who genuinely thinks he's (a) god? Parasite who claims to be (a) god (presumably for the ability to more easily draw victims to itself)? The list goes on like that.
Which brings up another ACI. Did Kain let the pillars fall out of selfishness and realized later there was another way or did he have a plan from start?
Being the Scion of Balance, Kain could have weighed both choices, and his powers as Scion made him realize both choices were unbalanced (due to all the conditions around sacrifice or survival being rigged on every level), and thus, neither really mattered. As survival at least gives one the chance to fix things later, he probably sensed that one as being "the least unbalanced" and went for it. As well, by that point in the story, he was quickly becoming the cynical bastard we knew and loved later.
Legend of Mana has an In-Universe ACI for the entire world of Fa'Diel — the storyteller Pokiehl and the Sproutlings believe that Fa'Diel is All Just a Dream. This, combined with the imagery in the opening cutscene suggests therefore that the events of the game are the Dying Dream of the Mana Tree as it goes up in flames.
Under that interpretation, given that the boy is ceaselessly driven by the desire to move to the right, the brain worms' initial forced change of direction to the left may render them symbolically heroic; note their luminescence amidst the black, hostile world and the sinister appearance of their ceiling-mounted predators.
Is the spider truly malicious, or just a simpleminded animal looking for a meal — or preemptively attempting to eliminate the threat posed by the boy?
Is the surrounding world limbo, or is the game's title merely a reference to its own moral ambiguity (or both)? In either case, was the world always like this, or as the scenery suggests, is the boy exploring a post-apocalyptic ruin, possibly brought about by man's brutalization of nature via the likes of the weather-controlling machine that the boy in turn brutalizes an innocent dog in order to use?
Marathon: Considering that the Marathon trilogy has far more Fanon than actual Canon, there's plenty of room for interpretation. Is Durandal a self-centered psychopathic computer saving the colony ship and universe just because he's in it, or The Atoner trying to make up for what he did under Strauss's control (and possibly even before he was known as Durandal)? Though not as obvious, almost all of interpretations about Master Chief above can be applied to the player character, The Security Officer.
The Reapers in Mass Effect periodically kill of all sapient life in the galaxy as a game. If they were just Berserkers their behavior doesn't make a whole lot of sense: a smart Berserker would just ruin the environment of any planet capable of supporting advanced life, making sure no future threats ever get a chance to evolve. Waiting for your enemies to develop advanced technology before killing them makes much more sense if you're doing it because you want a challenge.
The Reapers are machines of war, it is made clear that their sole reason of existence is to destroy. However, they are machines and thus were built by someone; likely the first group of species to have lived in this galaxy. It is very possible that they are the left-over relics of a race that built an all-too perfect weapon, one that destroyed their enemies and then turned on their masters. Who is to say that the tech of a Reaper, which seems god-like to the people of the galaxy, was not just advanced tech to the creatures that made them? Following this logic, the Reapers do not destroy life because it is a game, or because they are following some 'higher purpose we can not comprehend'; it is because they are machines, and as machines, they are doing as their programming commands; it is just what they do because it is what their most baseline code tells them to do. The Reapers, could in fact, be slaves to themselves incapable of free will, thought, or emotion.
The latter interpretation is confirmed in the Leviathan DLC for Mass Effect 3, where it's revealed that that the Catalyst, the controlling intelligence that directs the Reapers is the highly-sophisticated AI, working on faulty programming. The Leviathan created it to prevent wars between the human and synthetic races they ruled over, only for the Catalyst to fail in it's task, decide that the galaxy needed routine cleansing to remove the problem entirely and turn on it's creators, seeing them as another part of the problem.
Actually, conversation with the Leviathans at the end of the DLC reveal that the reason they have done nothing to stop the Reapers over the millenia is because, while not beneficial to their species, the Reapers have performed their assigned task TO THE LETTER.
As of Mass Effect 2 the Geth, who existed entirely to sink bullets into in the first game, are shown to be a machine race that has no interest in wiping out the quarians and other races. The Reaper-supporting Geth are even considered heretics by the primary Geth culture.
Mass Effect 2 invokes this trope with Cerberus. The first game painted them as terrorists—possibly omnicidal terrorists. The sequel suggests that the darker actions of the first Mass Effect were isolated incidents, and that, at worst, the group best fits the mold of Well-Intentioned Extremist, devoted to humanity's interests while not necessarily causing any harm to any other sapient life.
Jossed by Mass Effect 3, where its revealed that The Illusive Man intentionally recruited sympathetic individuals (mostly disaffected Ex-Alliance members) to be part of Shepard's crew in order to gain both his/her sympathies and secure their investment in completing the mission, with Kelly Chambers, Ken Donnelly, Gabby Daniels, and Dr. Chakwas all being specifically chosen to provide trustworthy faces.
It's also revealed that Cerberus has been Indoctrinating human refugees with Reaper tech to bolster their ranks and has no problem in using them as test subjects on their experiments. It's unclear however whether this augmentation began before or after the main number of their ranks became Indoctrinated.
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya: kind, caring engineer entitled to occassional snappiness from her upbringing in a paranoid society and being biased against by the galaxy, or snippy, hyper-defensive shrew that sees Fantastic Racism in seemingly everything?
Quarians/geth in general. Was the Morning War justifiable as a product of panic and ignorance? What about their assault on geth-occupied Rannoch during the Reaper invasion? As for the geth: should they have tried harder to seek alternate ways to avoid annihilation at the hands of the quarians? Are the non-heretic geth responsible for the actions of the heretics? Are they still trustworthy after they allied with the Reapers to save themselves from the quarian invasion?
Is the Virmire Survivor a paranoid Ungrateful Bastard, is he or she right to be upset by his or her former commander (and possible lover) joining up with a terrorist organization, or is he or she blowing the issue out of proportion due to a combination of seeing Shepard again and having just experienced a devastating attack on Horizon in which he or she thinks Cerberus might have played a role, thus causing him or her to be more emotional and judgmental than normal?
Interestingly enough, Garrus (and in Dummied Out content, Tali), despite being aliens who have even less reason to trust Cerberus, argue that the Virmire Survivor is too focused on Cerberus and ignoring the real threat. Is the Virmire Survivor taking this personally because Cerberus is a human terrorist organization (that claims to be on humanity's, and thus the Virmire Survivor's, side), and misjudging who they should be concerned about? Or do they understand how untrustworthy Cerberus is in ways that Shepard and his/her former crew, who rely on their help, do not?
Is Ashley Williams someone whose distrust toward aliens is justified (the Council) or at least understandable (a krogan mercenary, a turian Cowboy Cop and the daughter of The Dragon), is she a good person with prejudices that she gradually learns to overcome, or is she simply a racist jerk? Is her opposition to Cerberus and Terra Firma proof that she isn't completely racist (or at least a Pet the Dog moment), a refusal to go as far as they do or outright hypocrisy?
Liara T'soni: The truest friend Shepard has ever had or a Stalker with a Crush who is borderline obsessed with him/her to the point of keeping a piece of Shepard's old N7 armor enshrined in her apartment? Did she do the right thing when she retrieved Shepard's body and gave it to Cerberus or was she being disrespectful to the memory of Commander Shepard for selfish reasons? Was her inability to articulate the true story about Shepard and Cerberus to the Virmire Survivor miscommunication, lack of understanding, or Liara's jealousy trying to eliminate rivals for Shepard's attention? Was her cabin visits in Mass Effect 3 a true concern for Shepard's well being or is she just being very possessive of Shepard? Is her isolation from everyone else for many years a justified excuse of every issue that is being pointed out?
Are the Citadel Council stubborn, willingly blind anti-human racists whose incompetence hamstrings Shepard and imperils the galaxy? Or are they, if not quite a Reasonable Authority Figure, open to being convinced about humanity's merits, the threat of the Reapers, and Shepard's plan to stop them if shown enough evidence?
Humanity. Is the rest of the galaxy keeping them from rising to power out of jealousy and paranoia? Or does humanity simply need to learn to make compromises and sacrifices in order to become part of the galactic community, as well as accept that it will take time for them to integrate, much less rise to the top? Furthermore, when the Reapers attack Earth, is the Council callously abandoning them, or are they merely unwilling to commit to a seemingly hopeless battle without adequate preparation? Is the Alliance right to focus the Allied fleet's attention on Earth, where there is still a sizable population in need of evacuation and a resistance in need of backup? Or are they putting too much emphasis on their own homeworld when the other races are suffering just as badly or even worse?
Humanity's preoccupation with reclaiming Earth is lampshaded in the third game, when background conversations between two of the Normandy personnel have one take the position that Earth is being abandoned by the Council, while the other points out that the other races would feel exactly the same if it was their homeworld on the line and that the Turians are getting waylaid by the Reapers too. The Asari even state that their reason for not helping is to fall back to Thessia and defend their own borders, yet even the most advanced technology in the galaxy at their disposal still doesn't stop Thessia being the only world to fall entirely to the Reapers.
For a somewhat less serious one regarding Mass Effect: Andromeda, due to poor animation causing Sara Ryder to have weird or seemingly inappropriate facial expressions some fans decided this means she is a somewhat naive and Moe autistic woman obsessed with LEGO. Her brother Scott, meanwhile, due to similarly odd animations or screen captures is either kind of a Jerkass at best or a psychopath at worst.
Anetta in Mega Man Battle Network 3. She is a member of the cyberterrorists WWW, but she wants to protect nature, and at one point, even indirectly helps Lan save Mamoru's life. Her Navi, PlantMan, on the other hand, seems to goad her on. Lord Wily even seems to act a little differently around her. This has caused a lot of people to think that Anetta is simply a Well-Intentioned Extremist, and PlantMan acts as an evil conscience to her. A few theories have suggested that Wily created PlantMan specifically to control her.
Capcom's characterisation of Mega Man X characters varies from game to game, so some fanfics aren't exactly "alternate" as much as they are "trying to pick one." X himself ranges from a whiny doe-eyed wuss who depends on Zero for everything, a noble fighter sometimes hamstrung by his doubts, a naive dope who trusts everyone, or a macho warrior killing every Maverick on sight. Zero is either a womanizing loud-mouth warrior, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, a nice guy who only acts aloof and like a jerk because he's been betrayed so many times, or a cold-hearted killer. Thanks to the first game's remake, is Sigma just a Maverick infected by Wily who wants to dominate the world, or is he just staging a rebellion to test X's abilities in the interest of the good of the Reploids?
Here's a new one for X, due to sourcebook info stating that Dr Light created a "suffering circuit" to enable X to examine moral matters more deeply: Is he putting himself through all this because he truly wants to make the world a better place for human and Reploid alike, or did the 30 year testing phase in his capsule enslave him to Dr. Light's ideals?
The prequel anime included in the remake does clear a few things up about X, at least for the sake of that particular continuity: he does hesitate in decisive moments, but a flashback where he actually talked with Dr. Light before being sealed away, exchanging the testing phase with Dr. Light saying humanity wasn't mature enough to accept X yet shows he chose to fight of his own free will, with Dr. Light saying he wanted X to guide humans and robots, not ordering him.
Axl ranges from a hyperactive little kid, a good-natured rookie, and a creepy Child Soldier who sees everything as a game.
Iris, Zero's romantic interest, varies from a saint, a seemingly sweet person who is secretly crazy, and truly sweet yet naive girl who just wants everyone to get along.
Vile: A psychopath who wants to kill X to get even for his defeat, or is he a cynical Rebellious Spirit who isn't all that different from the heroes?
Repliforce: Villains? Innocents declared villains by a government too quick to judge them? Dangerous morons with incredible firepower that needed to be stopped? Or a balance of all three interpretations? Well-intentioned soldiers who made a foolish mistake and were too proud to admit it when faced with the shock of the world's leaders finding them inefficient at best, and Mavericks at worst?
Colonel himself can be subjected to quite a bit of this. In X's story, his decision seems to be made out of nothing but foolish pride. In Zero's, however, he's clearly shocked and outraged that the government would suspect him of being Maverick, and later in the story, honestly seems to believe that war is their only option, sometimes to a delusional extent. Given his backstory... it's certainly possible being faced with the threat of having his life's purpose taken from him caused him to snap.
It's stated in the manual that Signas took over the Maverick Hunters after the previous commander retired out of shame over the events of X4, so there's some credence to the belief that the Maverick Hunters are basing their definition of "Maverick" more on whether they follow orders rather than whether they're actively causing harm to humans/Reploids, either willingly or through a virus.
For that matter, the entire "Maverick" thing. Canonically it's caused by viruses, but especially in the first and fourth games, there's very little to suggest that it was anything other than what it looked like on the surface: a rebellion. If that's what it was, were they necessarily bad? This is compounded severalfold by the fact that in the Zero series (same universe, just a hundred years or so later), the Irregulars are a genuine robot rebellion (and the good guys) against a tyrannical society which seems to hate all Reploids, and the leader of their enemies is a copy of X.
The Liberion Army of Command Mission: Initially they seem to be a bunch of greedy, power-hungry sociopaths who cruelly oppress and subjugate everyone in Giga City - until you find that a few of their members (namely the Cadre) are surprisingly fair and honorable people, and the fact that they're the project of unethical experiments as well as being manipulated by The Man Behind the Man. Even Ferham, the seemingly sadomasochistic Baroness, has a genuinely tender moment with a fellow comrade. Their leader might even have a point that using force really might be the only way for a group of reploids to be heard. Despite all the horrible things they've done in the game, they're a hard lot to figure out, which is even reflected in the game when they're posthumously deferred Maverick status.
Despite what many of the Reploids they encounter say, neither X, Zero or even Axl are ever shown to adopt a "shoot first" approach. More often than not, they ask them to surrender peacefully, are refused, and thus are forced to kill the Reploid in self-defense. However... some lines from Zero among others imply the Maverick Hunters prefer their officers to eliminate their target without wasting time. Is this policy because innocent humans and Reploids are in danger at the time and take precedence over violent Mavericks? Because each and every Maverick the Hunters have encountered have refused to surrender anyway? Because of the danger a possibly viral Maverick or one feigning surrender presents? Or is their a racist anti-Reploid agenda behind it?
The humans themselves, particularly the government. Not helped by the fact that humans rarely get their own views, or even appearance, shown in game (the only human we see, Dr. Cain, even disappears after X4). Are most of them really well-meaning, seeing the Reploids as equals, and valuing the hard work they do, or do most refuse to see the distinction between them and the Mechanaloids,(which are literal machines) seeing both as tools and are only happy as long as the Reploids do what they want, as Sigma believed? As for the trust issues, are they simply being Properly Paranoid about them, given their capabilities, or are they fanatical bigots, taking their paranoia too far, seeing nothing wrong with treating innocent Reploids citizens, who, just as the humans, would like nothing more than for the wars to stop, with hostility and suspicion, much like Weil, who felt the entire race "got off too easy" because of crimes that Sigma and other Mavericks committed?
Similarly, fanon popularly puts up a dividing line between "infected" Mavericks and just regular Reploids who are criminals. What becomes of the latter falls into this as well - are they shot on sight in a display of Fantastic Racism?
Dr.Weil, even from the start, had pretty warped ideas of right and wrong, blaming the entire Reploid race for the crimes of the Mavericks. It's entirely possible all the suffering and destruction around him at the time (the Maverick Wars, the fall of Doppler Town, the Sky Lagoon Disaster, Repliforce's rebellion, a colony drop, the emergence of yet another strain of the Maverick Virus, and a large-scale rebellion by the new generation reploids, all in his lifetime) left him severely unhinged.
Dr. Light is ostensibly the Big Good of the entire Mega Man franchise, but, as an anon on 4chan points out,◊ his relentless idealism spawned wars, mayhem, carnage, hatred, and destruction on such a scale as to make a decent case for him being the greatest villain in all of video games.
Frank Jaeger's Expansion Pack Past storyline and FaceHeel Revolving Door personality (not to mention, his character being one of the few to make appearances across every single major Retool and Broad Strokes application in the storyline) naturally lends itself to this. His main moral appears to be his loyalty to Big Boss, but he also offered Snake advice to help him stop Big Boss, and his reasons for doing this are unclear - clearly his loyalty to Big Boss isn't totally perfect, but whether it's affection for Snake, guilt over his past actions or a disagreement with Big Boss's ideals is never explained. It's also not clear what is going on in Metal Gear, where he is taken prisoner by Big Boss, yet still later defects to follow him into Zanzibar - especially with the revelation in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain that the Big Boss of Outer Heaven was a double. Did Fox realise the double wasn't the real him, and, if so, when?
Liquid Snake's stated motivation is hatred of his brother for killing Big Boss, and a desire to save the Genome Soldiers, who he considers his family. However, his actual means of carrying out the plan seems to involve allowing his brother to murder each last one of his coworkers, some of whom (Ocelot and Psycho Mantis) he had exceptionally close, if not healthy, relationships with, as well as slaughtering any number of his "brothers" in the Genome forces. Not only that, but he spends most of the game offering Snake helpful information, up to and including getting angry on Snake's behalf when villains treat him unreasonably, and giving him friendly philosophical advice based on his own personal experience. It's not difficult to surmise that Liquid, who overidentifies with the genes that he shares with his brother, might actually be feeling some confused feelings of filial love for him, but transferred his all-consuming hatred of Big Boss onto his brother on account of the hatred having nowhere else to go. His sacrifice of his brothers and sisters to his brother's gun may have been an attempt to psych himself into sincerely hating Snake, or even as a really confused attempt at suicide, by having Snake mow down those who share his genes and ideals as a proxy for himself. Similarly, Snake considers Liquid a nemesis but never appears to hate him, and in Metal Gear Solid 2 he has a huge grin on his face when he realises his brother is still 'alive'.
Does Big Boss actually apologize to Snake and hug him at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, or is the entire sequence Snake's hallucination before he kills himself? Or even Snake's personal heaven, where his daddy always loved him and everything turns out okay? People remark the ending of MGS4 feels out of place, is that why? Actually, is Snake in MGS4 even Solid Snake at all, or Raiden in the same Mind Screw that he ended Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in? The fact that static is used to represent damage and the game over screen reads "Mission Failed" (which is used throughout the series to indicate failing a VR mission; failing actual gameplay gets "Game Over"), as well as the more outlandish plot elements, characterisation decisions and Raiden as an NPC supports this interpretation.
Notice that all of the characters that help bring back Big Boss die, Heroic Sacrifice or Snake covering his tracks to make his illusion more believable? Or the fact that the conspiracy theory explanation from Big Boss doesn't bring exactly anything that the player hasn't heard before (he repeats everything that Eva said about Big Boss and the A.I.s) the only thing that may deflate this theory is the fact that Major Zero is there and killed, but the end seems like a Gainax Ending.
Similarly, is Rose in Metal Gear Solid 2 a well-intentioned person doing an immoral job that she comes to regret, a canny spy pretending to be a well-intentioned person doing an immoral job that she comes to regret as part of a Batman Gambit to convince Raiden to complete the mission, or a combination of an insane computer and Raiden's own personal delusions? Even in MGS4 she's still sporting the dyed hair and the contact lenses she denounced as fake in MGS2, and she's only seen in person by Raiden and the Colonel off-camera (and the Colonel was an AI in MGS2).
Senator Armstrong from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is ripe for differing interpretations given what an erratic character he is; even Raiden is so baffled by his various monologues that he just declares him "batshit insane" in order to make sense of it all. At first Armstrong appears to be motivated by greed, a lust for power, or both, but then after the Metal Gear Excelsus fight, he tells Raiden "the truth": He seeks to turn America into a vaguely anarchic society where people are free to pursue whatever they wish with the strength of their own convictions. When he describes a country where "the law bends to suit the individual," does he mean an uprooted and extensively retooled political system where the policymakers genuinely have everyone's best interests in mind, or does he mean a state of full-blown lawlessness where nothing is illegal and only the strongest will survive? In either case, is this really his goal? Or is he merely using that as an excuse to mask his aforementioned pursuit of money and/or power?
Morden: Well-Intentioned Extremist who tries to prevent events like his son's death, or just another lunatic? Are the protagonists actually bad guys, who protect a corrupt government by slaughtering a larger rebellion army?
The Enderdragon will stop at nothing to kill you, and from getting the Dragon egg, a reward you get for killing it. While usually thought of as evil, the Enderdragon could just be doing its job as a mom, protecting the egg.
The villagers are usually thought of as nice, innocent people, but some players think they're Jerkass conmen who are trying to swindle you out of your emeralds. Some of them will charge ridiculous prices, like 7 emeralds for an iron sword, and some will charge you more than other villagers for the same amount of stuff.
Minecraft: Story Mode: The Reveal that the Order killing the Ender Dragon was a fraud puts Ivor in this light: did he want to humiliate Gabriel and be the hero himself as revenge for being dropped from the legends, to prove to the world the Order was a fraud, or to give Gabriel and/or himself a chance to kill a REAL monster and become genuine heroes?
The Runners in Mirror's Edge refuse to be part of the unbearably oppressive and emotionless society of The City created by the oppressive surveillance state that began some decades ago, which gets them in constant trouble with the police. But in the game, you only get the runner's word for it, as you never meet or even see any civilians and the only confirmed occasion of police brutally breaking up a riot was over eighteen years ago, when the characters were still young children. While there are no reasons to think that the government is not authoritarian and the corporate executives corrupt, you can't completely shake the feeling that the Runners might get a slightly distorted view of society from their hideouts high on the roofs of skyscrapers.
An Alternative Character Interpretation is even done within the game by Celeste, who tells Faith that survival is meaningless if you don't also live a little bit. It is later revealed that she didn't mean that Faith should losen up a bit and have some fun at times. In fact she secretly accepted a job offer by the government to work as a state employed assassin, which is about the only job her skill and abilities qualify her for. She'd much rather try her luck at rejoining society and have at least some kind of life, instead of hiding on the roofs until she gets shot by the police or falls 80 meters to her death.
Is Sanshi's obsessive devotion to Tamonten a shining bastion of virtuous Undying Loyalty, a hilarious Running Gag, kinky masochistic submission, or way overblown and unhealthy and indicative of his needing to get a life?
Is Ashuku a positive representation of trans women or is her playing Girly Girl tropes dead straight in an attempt to land in with women reinforcing sexist stereotypes?
Is the dōmori a necessary presence in NamuAmi canon, or are they a tired, unoriginal Follow the Leader in the tradition of the admiral, saniwa and librarian that adds nothing to the setting and plot? The fact both the 2016 and anime canons do well without them seems to support the latter.
Even the mechanics can be subject to this. Is the Nobody Can Die mechanic a much-needed Anti-Frustration Feature, or does it take away the challenge and make the game just another strategy card game?
Virtue's Last Reward gives us both answers: in the timeline the games follow, June becomes colder and more calculating the longer she lives and the stronger her ability to see into other timelines becomes. By the time the second game comes around, she's nothing like the girl Junpei knew. And, perhaps even worse, because of the way time travel works in this universe, a person can't change their own timeline, they can only create alternate timelines. There may well be a world out there where the real June is the sweet, optimistic girl he fell in love with... but it's not one we've seen yet.
Word of God confirms that June was being honest when she told Kyle that she wanted to be with Junpei...but she didn't end up doing that, so why? Was she nobly sacrificing any chance at a normal life so she could work to save the world? Did her plans, evil or not, take priority over that love? Was she ashamed of what she'd become? Was she not ashamed, and preferred being Zero over Akane? Or has she actually been working to create a happy timeline- where her murderers are neutralized and Radical-6 is never released- so she can be with him?
Future!Sigma: Was he a essentially good, if socially awkward, scientist who devoted his life to changing history and averting the apocalypse, or a cold, calculating murderer who enslaved sapient beings (Luna and K) in a crazed attempt to atone for his mistakes?
Werner's words at the Gates of Finis about Lyblac can be interpreted in various ways. It could either be viewed as Werner being disgusted by Lyblac's cruelty even with all the blood on his hands. Alternatively, Werner isn't actually repulsed by Lyblac on a moral or ethical level, and it's more "this woman's crazy and I'm going to pay the price if I keep in her company." It can be taken further as Werner could be seen as a tad regretful when he says "perhaps I was mad to serve her so long and bring down a kingdom." Or perhaps it's simply Evil Versus Oblivion since if Lyblac's plan succeeds, there won't be anybody remaining for Werner to rule, which is a main element of his character.
When it turns out that the man who killed Ogen's wife ended up having a wife and son of his own, what does it say about the person in question? Is he a Retired Monster who happens to have loved ones, or did he genuinely turn over a new leaf?
Mercy's canon voicelines depict her as a hopeful and compassionate hero. But because being The Medic is so often fraught with constant mistreatment by incompetent teammates, fanart tends to depict Mercy as an extremely bitter babysitter of her useless team.
Mei, because her voicelines hugely clash with her playstyle. Her canon personality is that of an Adorkable cuddly scientist, but her abilitiesnote creating ice barriers, freezing and headshotting opponents, self-freezing to turn invincible are all oriented towards countering attacks and impeding movement, causing her to be viewed by fandom as the Satan of the Overwatch universe.
Pac-Man is actually destroying the world he lives in. The pellets protect the fabric of his reality and the ghosts are desperately trying to stop him. Upon reaching level 256, Pac-Man has eaten enough pellets that the game crashes and the world is destroyed.
So that may explain why in Pixels, Pac-Man is the only game where the player character is the enemy while the protagonists of the film play the antagonists of the game. Pac-Man definitely causes a lot of destruction in the city.
Paperboy: The default and lightest possible interpretation of the Paperboy is that he delivers newspapers to subscribers and vandalizes non-subscribers for fun or out of spite. A darker interpretation is that it was never about the papers at all and the whole thing is one big protection racket, which his superiors, and the police (who will only charge the Paperboy after he leaves the paper), are a part of. In some of the games, non-subscribers will convert to subscribers if they fall victim to enough vandalism.
Persona 2's Tatsuya: Did he intentionally commit the sin of refusing to forget everything to save Maya and stop Nyarlathotep because he was just greedy or too unwilling to make a sacrifice, thereby deserving the Eternal Punishment? Or did he just commit the "Innocent Sin" in the title and not really deserve any Eternal Punishment?
Philemon: Jerkass god playing a Book of Job-like game with the protagonists' lives; or a caring guardian deity trapped in a Manichean struggle against his equally powerful evil counterpart, giving humans the power to protect themselves, and willing to make the hard decision of sacrificing the happiness of a few to save the whole?
Kanji: A closet homosexual who refuses to admit his sexual orientation to himself or just a teenager who is struggling with feeling at ease around guys, rather than girls, because they simply do not make fun of his "feminine" hobbies?
Rise: A girl that isn't ashamed to show how much she loves the MC and knows she doesn't need to be an idol to have friends or a hypocrite, that keeps flirting with him and becomes a singer again as soon as she can?
There is also Saki's lingering Shadow who said she despised Yosuke all along. Did Saki really hate Yosuke? Since Shadows are exaggerations of someone's true self, was this an exaggeration of Saki's frustration of her situation (working for Junes when the department store is taking business from her family's liquor shop)? Or was her feelings present in a mild sense and exaggerated by her shadow, like Chie's resentment of Yukiko? Another interpretation was that this was all an illusion by Yosuke's Shadow, representing what Yosuke feared she thought of him.
Adachi's Establishing Character Moment was him vomiting after seeing Mayumi's corpse. Was it all an act since Adachi was the one to kill her? Or was it out of genuine shock and horror of seeing her body after he thought he committed the perfect crime and got away with it?
What was the reason that the police dismissed Naoto from the investigation? Was it because she was a female and a teenager and they resented the implication that they needed help? Or was it due to Naoto's occasionally abrasive personality that didn't win her many favours? Or was it perhaps the police had caught a suspect and weren't willing to admit they were wrong?
It happens In-Universe, where the public opinion's divide on whether the Phantom Thieves are unsung heroes dealing with scum beyond the reach of the law or terrorists trying to enforce their own views on society through brainwashing drives a major part of the plot. And more humorously, the protagonist's homeroom teacher is convinced the classic fairy tale The Tale Of The Bamboo Cutter was about a greedy bitch who conned her suitors for expensive gifts before dumping them and running away.
The protagonist/Joker's parents. We know nothing about them except that they passed off Joker on a friend of a friend after he was put on probation. Did they dump their son on someone else because they saw Joker as a burden? Or do they really care about him and thought it was for the best? Players never saw if they even bothered contacting their son during his stay in Tokyo but there is a possibility that they did contact Joker off-screen
While Madarame is an utterly terrible person, did he see Yusuke as nothing more than as another artist to exploit? Did he actually care for Yusuke to a certain extent? Yusuke, despite hating Madarame for what he did, can't help but occasionally look back fondly on old times with his mentor/father figure and see both good along with the bad. However, it's also noted that a lot of the good times Yusuke (and other characters) recalls happened when Yusuke was a child. Did Madarame started as a decent person before he got worse when Yusuke got older?
Seeing how the Conspiracy's victims are not entirely innocent, it raises the question of how involved Futaba's mother was. Was she really a victim or was she complicit in Shido's plans? Keep in mind, the only things heard about her are from Futaba and Sojiro, both who are on good terms with her. It's possible that Akechi saw her as a mastermind responsible for the abuse of cognition or that, like Sae, Futaba's mother was unwittingly doing the Conspiracy's work without being aware of their existence.
Who was at fault for Morgana running away and leaving the Phantom Thieves? Some blame Morgana as he tends to insult and blame Ryuji for everr minor mistake and can come off as wangsty. Others blame Ryuji because he would keep egging Morgana on even if Morgana did not provoke him.
During the buffet at Wilton Hotel, Joker muses that he didn't consider continuing as a Phantom Thief after dealing with Kamoshida, but after seeing Shido, the man who framed him at the hotel convinced him to continue. Was Joker initially reluctant because he wasn't sure it was morally right to change people's hearts? Was it because he was afraid of getting into more trouble? Or after being betrayed by the woman who he saved, left him cynical about helping others? And when he did ultimately decide to continue, was it for the sake of changing the world, helping other people, or eventually getting revenge on the one who wronged him?
Why did the woman who betrayed Joker before the start of the game have a change of heart at the end and testified against Shido? Was it out of guilt over what she did? Did she do it because she believes it would convict Shido? It's possible she did not testify earlier because she was afraid and/or she is doing it now because there is less risk. The fact that it takes the Phantom Thieves weeks to find her indicates that she is trying quite hard not to be found and the question is why.
There are some alternate interpretations of the character Fall-From-Grace in Planescape: Torment, is she an honest defector who found a new philosophy to escape her Chaotic Evil nature? A Baatezu spy? Is her chaste priestess demeanor a real attempt to rise above her former life as a succubus (which she calls "childish and immature") or simply a sign that she's a really good temptress? The game's not telling, and the main information comes from a distinctly unreliable source. Her character sheet alignment really says something different...
Does she hate Chell, or is she just an ass (that does not quite hate Chell)? Does she show possessive affection towards Chell in her own insane way?
The ending of the second game and the lyrics of "Want You Gone" have added serious fuel to this fire. Another question this spawns is, assuming that GLaDOS really does care about Chell, whether it goes all the way back to the first game or is something that developed during Portal 2.
In the first game (seemingly debunked in the sequel): Is she not an AI at all, and simply a sophisticated but buggy user interface, full of pre-recorded statements?
In the sequel, is the facility really in disrepair, and is GLaDOS really mad at Chell, or is it all an act with more pre-planned tests?
Caroline with regard to the cut dialogue: Goofy and victimized assistant of Cave Johnson? Or complicit psychopath who only considered the horrific implications of her work when it came barreling down on her? (If you're skeptical of the latter possibility, remember: Her brain is the basis for GLaDOS.)
Cave Johnson — An honestly well-meaning guy who is simply down on his luck and clueless to how to appropriately use his products in the real world, or a deranged man bent on testing his products as much as possible to sate his curiosity? Nevertheless, one thing everybody can agree on is his obvious lack of sanity.
Wheatley, in regards to how much of his FaceHeel Turn was GLaDOS's programming corrupting him, and how much was him being Drunk with Power. His apology seems to point to the latter; if it was merely programming, why is he so sorry? Either way, most people forgive him.
Is Ratchet from Ratchet & Clank a great hero, saving the galaxy whenever the time needs him or is he secretly an Omnicidal Maniac just using the hero excuse so he can kill innocent beings that get in his way with really big guns?
Easily the former. There are a huge number of venues to legally murder wave upon wave of creature for profit and earn a very good living doing so all around him — that he never partakes in these competitions until he has to (as evidenced by him always being the new unknown challenger) as opposed to doing it professionally shows he's doing it cause he has to, and the player is doing it cause they're an Omnicidal Maniac just using the hero excuse so they can kill innocent beings with really big guns.
Red Dead Redemption has a few, mainly centering around Edgar Ross: outright evil sadist, an overzealous, single-minded Knight Templar too caught up in his own ideals to see his hypocrisy, a decent guy just following orders or just another pawn in the big game of politics and manipulation the characters find themselves stuck in?
Dutch Van Der Linde is fully Ambiguously Evil, with even characters In-Universe having different interpretations as to his true nature. He starts the prequel as a charming, Robin Hood-esque leader who just wants to live without the encroaching civilzation but he becomes more erratic and violent as the story goes on. By I twelve years later, he's much more obviously insane but a bit calmer. This raises the question if he ever was the Robin Hood figure before going insane or was he always a manipulative, brutal psychopath he showed himself to be by the end of both games? And then, did he genuinely care for his "charges," or were they just pawns to him?
Dutch's reason for abandoning and leaving them for dead at different points to John and Arthur is left unexplained. It's possible that Dutch never loved them or loved them very conditionally, having no use for them once they started doubting him. Another possibility is that the traitor Micah was manipulating Dutch's poor mental state so well that they convinced Dutch that John and Arthur were actually traitors and thus, the biggest threats to the gang.
Dutch shooting Micah in the epilogue raises a lot of questions. Was he deeply regretful of Arthur's death and killed Micah in revenge, was it because he finally believed Micah was the traitor, or was it that he did not want to see his remaining son John die as well?
Arguably, the point of Jack Marston. His fate is entirely in the hands of the player, and he becomes either an outlaw hellbent on avenging his father, or starts helping people, taking after his father.
Does Mary from II genuinely love Arthur or is she just using his affection for her to get what she wants? Or is she just a widow with a drunk dad stuck in a bad situation in a time in which women were still considered property making her have to call on Arthur, the only man she can trust? Is it a bit of all of that?
It's uncertain why Bill and Javier continued to stay with Dutch even as the rest of the gang left. Was it out of foolish Undying Loyalty or was it because they were afraid of being left without purpose if they did abandon the man who saved them at their lowest?
Molly O'Shea is either seen as an Alpha Bitch who hates not being the centre of attention and refuses to help and get along with the rest of the gang or a depressed, anxious woman who is clearly in over her head and feels justifiably ignored and despised from her lover and others.
With the reveal that Micah was The Mole, it raises questions about their motivations and actions over the course of the game. While Milton says that Micah became the mole after Guarma, there are still plenty of hints prior that there was a traitor in the gang feeding information to the Pinkertons, such as the Blackwater and Saint Denis heists going wrong the way they did. Did Micah intend to sell the gang out from the very beginning or only did so when things were going downhill for the gang after Saint Denis? Or another interpretation is that there was no traitor in the gang and Milton said that to plant a seed of doubt and destroy the gang from within, and the gang simply had a string of bad luck and the Pinkertons doing their research.
There are differences between John's stories in I and the events seen in II, raising the question if he is an Unreliable Narrator. In I, he constantly downplays the "better" aspects of the gang, claiming he had no friends, that Bill and Javier were worse than they really are and downplaying his participation in larger-scale crimes. This raises the question if John was actively trying to alter the truth or if he was actually in denial, trying to convince himself that he doesn't really miss that lifestyle by focusing only on the negative parts or to make it easier for himself to hunt down and kill his former friends (as evident by John's initial reluctance to shoot first and giving Bill, Javier and Dutch a chance to go with him quietly). One interpretation is that John is dismissing Dutch's last iteration of the gang that consisted of Dutch, Micah, Bill and Javier and those like Arthur, Sadie and Charles who did right by John and left that life are not considered part of that gang anymore. It would explain John's particular disdain for Dutch, Bill and Javier and why he implicitly doesn't bring up other former members like Arthur.
When John told Ross that he'd kill Ross before killing Dutch if he had the option, was he saying that out of anger because of Ross kidnapping his family? Was it because he feels Ross is worse than Dutch? Or does John still hold some sentiment for the man who raised him and never wanted to kill Dutch? John's inability to shoot Dutch before Dutch's suicide seems to suggest the latter.
A lot of Wesker's actions in Resident Evil 5 could be interpreted as him having an obsessive Villainous Crush on Chris Redfield. Him using a brainwashed Jill against Chris instead of just killing the former, barely acknowledging Sheva's existence, his backstabbing of Excella Gionne and his refusal to kill Chris even when he has a gun to Chris's head. It even explains his lack of shirt during the final boss fight.
Gehn of Riven. Some feel that his tragic backstory — losing his father and civilization at the age of 8, running away from home at fourteen, his beloved wife dying of childbirth while they were still in their teens - doesn't justify his A God Am I tendencies, but makes him somewhat more sympathetic.
Rune Factory 3 has Shara. Sweet, innocent girl who cares only about your general well-being? Or manipulative bitch who has her family guilt trip you into marrying her? The fact she gets kinda nasty at times after you marry her doesn't help her case.
In 7 Days a Skeptic, the events of the game show er, John trying to warn everybody about the supernatural phenomena, but in 6 Days a Sacrifice, it shows John, aka Malcolm killing several Welders, Yahtzee implies in the commentary that everything was all Malcolm's story, and he killed everybody he hasn't confirmed, though.
And the most interesting part is, there is a bit of evidence supporting the possession, in the game, Malcolm constantly sees the ghost of Serena, for no other reason than to screw with your head, and also the fact the first death in the flashback in the last game is "The Welder" being impaled, and every death shown afterward. This, again, could be reinterpreted, as the first death in 7 is the captain, who is found impaled on the same device you later use to kill the Welder, though the pose of the body is wrong.
Saya no Uta: Yousuke is a calm, quiet family man who enjoys his calm, quiet life, until Saya causes him to hallucinate the same way Fuminori does and he immediately becomes a violent psychopath whose first instinct is to kill the "monsters", his wife and daughter, and rape the only girl he can find, Saya. This happens in a matter of minutes. Considering how long it took Fuminori to sink that low, it begs the question of just how sane was Yousuke, really? Did he really go insane, or was he always two steps away from being a lunatic and Saya just happened to bring it to a boil by messing with his brain?
Maria: Although in the main scenario she seems to be the product of James' delusion created to seduce him, remind him of his guilt, or even to punish him, she is shown in different way —more human, independent and having her own will— in the "Born from a Wish" scenario. It suggests that Maria is rather a tragic character, not an evil creature. Also, her outcome depends on player activity during the game.
James, as all the information regarding him is provided either by him or products of his delusions. How much did he really love his wife? To what extent did her illness affect him? Did he kill her because of mercy? Anger? Frustration? Desire? Even his fate is left to interpretation, as Word of God states that it is up to the player which of the four Multiple Endings is the "real" ending.
Did the real Mary emotionally abuse James until he put her out of her misery, or does he just tell himself that to ease his guilt? Laura would claim the latter, but she seems to be a manifestation of childish spite herself, and if she really believed that, would she willingly leave Silent Hill with James?
Silent Hill 3 offers an in-game alternate character explanation from Vincent: "They look like monsters to you?" He very quickly backs off from this, claiming that he was kidding, but given the Mind Screw nature of the game in general, you have to wonder...
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories may be this in regards to the first game of the series, interpreting everyone in different ways. Is Harry really a Papa Wolf, or is that how Cheryl wants to see him as, was he nothing more than a lecherous ass? Cheryl gets this too, interpreting her as slightly not right in the head after her dad dies. In fact, one theory is that the entire first game was imagined up by Cheryl. This being Silent Hill, we'll never be sure...
Sinistar. Villain or tragic character? When he arrives he tells the player to Beware, and to "Run! Run! Run!," before finally being overtaken by evil, letting out an angry and sorrowful shout before giving chase to the player.
The title character of Slender. Is he really a demonic creature seeking new victims or is he a lonely monster wanting someone to hang out with?
Multiple movies and games do have Slender to be the former, but other games aren't clear about what he would or could do to the player.
People find Purge from Space Channel 5 Part 2 to be a villain, but in reality he was just trying to make people happy. He probably went insane though...
Roger Wilco of Space Quest. Bumbling, lazy idiot who only manages to succeed through sheer blind luck, or underestimated (though unmotivated) hero who manages to get ahead by using his cunning and resources to save the day? Big Bad Sharpei of Space Quest VI feels it's a bit of both, that Roger is a bumbling idiot but he couldn't have survived the way he has without some degree of genuine capacity.
Spelunky, a discussion on the Fridge section brought this idea: The Shopkeeper has a lot of health and items. The only way for most players to get similar levels of power is via Kali's temples, which always seem to have fresh blood on them. So the Shopkeeper is probably conducting Human Sacrifice. However, the alternative alternative character interpretation is that with Kali's temples willing to take any sacrifices regardless of morality, he might have been culling the bad guys before you came along. And that because of opportunistic little jerks like the player running around, he's had to adopt the "Shotgun at the first inkling of trouble" policy lest these "heroic" adventurers try to steal from or murder him.
Arcturus Mengsk: power-obsessed sociopath with a God complex or trying to unite the Terrans of the Koprulu sector in order to ensure their survival?
"I will not be stopped. Not by you, or the Confederacy, or the protoss, or anyone! I will rule this sector or see burnt to ashes around me!"
The Confederacy: Corrupt and despotic or just politically (and tactically) inept?
The UED: imperialistic aggressors or defenders of all mankind? This one's pretty clear-cut: They're canonically the former via A Nazi by Any Other Name, but it's quite literally All There in the Manual and you probably wouldn't know if you never read it.
The Protoss: shining beacon of hope for the galaxy or arrogant, self-righteous bastards that give a shit about other races? This is actually an in-universe issue, as in the first game quite a few of the Protoss leaders were clearly the latter, while Tassadar was one of the few who was unarguably the former.
The Dark Templar: tragic heroes or manipulative bastards?
James Raynor: shining hero or moronic drunkard messing around with things that are a few numbers too big for him? Or an Average Joe trying to do the best he can in a conflict that's way over his head?
Nova. She may be one of Mengsk loyal assassins, or just someone who was brainwashed into serving the Dominion. With the ghost programing which includes Mindwipe as part of its training, she may not know who exactly she's working for.
The Nova 'Covert Ops' mini-campaign seems to simultaneously clear up the matter and also add fuel to its fire; thanks to periodic memory wipes, Nova isn't even entirely sure what she's been up to herself. She seems to be loyal to the Dominion.... but only the Dominion itself, and not any particular set of ideals; she serves the idealistic Valerian Mengsk just as faithfully as she once served his evil father.
Tychus Findley: Amoral bastard only looking out for himself or conflicted friend willing to commit Suicide by Cop?
Theoretically the main reason for the Federation-Klingon War is that the Federation is heavily infiltrated by the Undine. However, in the KDF storyline the Undine aren't even mentioned until you get to the "Cloaked Intentions" episode (where the Fedside fiasco on P'Jem gets a throwaway mention while you're decoding some Tal Shiar files). Couple that with the war having actually started when the Klingons decided to return to their conquistador days and started attacking Federation colonies, and one starts to wonder if the Undine infiltration isn't really just a convenient Pretext for War.
Is D'Tan a genuine reformer who is doing what he feels is best for his people and honestly wants friendship with both of the remaining Alpha/Beta Quadrant superpowers (the official interpretation), a traitor to the Romulan way of life, or a particularly shrewd manipulator who is Playing Both Sides to improve the Romulans' situation?
You escaped the programmed dreams somehow, you fucked things up along the way, accidentally, the AI looking over the dream ran wild because it wasn't programmed to deal with all that, Dr. Pierce had to fix it all but had no idea how, and you somehow managed to find a way to wake up on your own. All that rant by Pierce on how they planned it all to help and blah blah? Bullshit to cover up and avoid you telling the world about how badly they fucked your therapy up. Because if you do believe his rant, then his rant is the truth. And thus, your treatment was not a failure at all.
Or another alternative on that last bit: The Dr. Pierce in that last part of your dream was just your mind trying to wake you up by making you feel something other than helpless and confused - what the screw-up doctor should have done from the start.
Team Fortress 2, having an Excuse Plot and paper-thin characterization, can support a variety of interpretations, though beginning with the recent WAR update each major revamp has started to fill in the backstories a bit more. Some fans attempt to stay within the framework of the information provided, others throw all of that out the window and create a number of Sailor Earth-types who are more or less just "my character, as this Class".
Azazel from Tekken. In the franchise, he's the ultimate evil. In MasterOfNintendo's MLP fanfiction series, he's the powerful, loyal, truly good husband of Celestia and king of all Equestria.
Terraria: There has been discussion about whether the player character is a Villain Protagonist. After all, while there are bosses who attack without provocation (like the Eye of Cthulhu and the three mechanical bosses), most bosses need to be summoned with an item. Others, like Queen Bee or Plantera, only attack after the player destroys their progeny. Are they truly malevolent, or just victims of a Blood Knight who destroys everything in his or her path?
An awful lot of people are convinced that Lara Croft is a Sociopathic Hero due to her willingness to violently gun down not just criminals and monsters, human and non-human), but also endangered animals and even security guards and police officers (though they do attack her), and also her apparent lack of respect for the ancient sites she raids. Robot Chicken even parodied this in one of their sketches.
Touhou Project needs to get special mention here. Beyond the absurdly high fanon-to-canon-material ratio meaning there's a ton of this to begin with, UFO's A and B paths not only affect the characters abilities but their personalities as well. So Reimu is either driven primarily by a need for money or out of genuine concern for people, and both versions are equally canon.
When she was first introduced, Kaguya was seen as a heartless Manipulative Bitch who toyed with men for her own amusement — in other words, how Fujiwara no Mokou views her, though her perception is a bit jaundiced because her own father was one of Kaguya's rejected suitors. Then the semi-canon gag manga Inaba of the Moon & Inaba of the Earth came along and revolutionized the fanon portrayal of Kaguya by showing her as sheltered and naive but ultimately kind-hearted and well-meaning. And then there are the fans who interpret her as a lazy, apathetic NEET who spends all day playing video games.
ZUN himself commented on Reimu in her character profile in Strange Creators of Outer World, saying that this applies to her in-universe. Notably, in the games she looks far more noble since she's "on the clock" and actively protecting Gensokyo from whatever threatens it; meanwhile in the canon manga like Wild and Horned Hermit she's "off the clock" and is portrayed as lazy, money-grubbing, and forever pursuing Get Rich Quick Schemes. Since there's never been a story told specifically from Reimu's perspective, everyone has a different idea on who Reimu is, causing her to have drastic changes in personality.
Toriel is the first non hostile friendly monster you meet in the underground and she solves some puzzles for you while making sure you're not hurt. After arriving at her house, she is not only overjoyed that she has company again in a long time, she even has a room set up for you and lessons prepared to educate you. If you try to leave her so you can return to your home with the humans, she blocks the way and attacks you to see if you're really capable of standing up on your own two feet. Is Toriel an extreme case of My Beloved Smother or is she just really worried about the player character's safety and doesn't want anything bad to happen to them? It's only during the true pacifist route where you discover that Toriel and her husband had two kids of their own- one biological and another adopted- that died at the same time before the game started.
Sans and Flowey, due to their Walking Spoiler nature, are subject of rampant speculation about their motivations, their pasts, the actual nature of their powers, their relationships with other characters, and even their real personalities.
Another Walking Spoiler character, W. D. Gaster is subject to this due to being Dummied Out and every little references to him still remaining in the game are both ominous and ambiguous. Was he an arrogant Mad Scientist whose erasure from reality actually benefited the Underground? Or was he a relatively harmless scholar who poked too much into things that monsters weren't meant to know and unwittingly paid the price?
Is Chara a monster who manipulated their family and friends into a plan to massacre humanity and destroy the entire world, or an abused and frightened child with a love of chocolate, dogs and silly puns who truly cares for their adoptive family or the player themselves?
Is Asgore a genuinely good person who was simply put in a bad situation and did what he had to do? Or a schemer who got away with several murders and planning the destruction of mankind? Or a coward unable to go back on an extremely bad, wrath-induced decision because he cannot stand up to his own subjects?
On that note, his motives regarding making his plan. Did Asgore actually want to take the surface back for monsters? Does he simply want to give the monsters a source of hope after the tragic loss of the prince? Or is he lying to himself and revenge against humanity was part of motivations all along?
Lord British is a genocidal cult leader who who conquered the planet by ruthlessly crushing all who oppose him and enforcing a state religion of his own devising
The Avatar is an Ax-Crazy psychopath who acts as British's attack dog, and is allied with him only so he can murder everyone around him with impunity and royal sanction
Due to the nature of Umineko: When They Cry, it practically breathes this trope. What really happened in 1986? Was there a real culprit, or was everything just magic? Are Shannon and Kanon real people, or actually Yasu in disguise? Is Beatrice one person, or several? When considering who's real and who's not, you can end up with an endless array of mystery/fantasy stories. But the most important question, which drives the whole plot and is never truly answered, is "Magic or Trick"?
There's a whole lot of this in-universe, especially between Battler and Ange's perspective of characters. The final game was created by Battler specifically to remind Ange of the loving family who had fun together, rather than the worst characterizations that the Wild Mass Guessing 'Witch Hunt' fanatics speculated.
Nathan Drake of Uncharted is presented as an unlucky everyman. However, people have taken issue with this to varying degrees, with his alternate characterization ranging from merely too skilled to be an everyman to a murderer, but one you'd buy a drink for in a bar to a mass murderer to a full-blown sadistic sociopath. Nate stays jokey almost the whole time he kills the numerous mercenaries after him and sometimes seems a bit too eager for violence. For instance, there's a museum infiltration level where Nate says he doesn't want to kill anyone, but his non-lethal takedowns still include neck snaps and he throws an unaware guard over a hundred feet down into the ocean, in a series that usually averts Soft Water. You can see the guard swimming away, but even the developers admit this is a cop-out. In Drake's Deception, Marlowe actually brings this up, claiming he gets off on violence, before completely discarding that line of thought.
In Until Dawn, this can be applied to many of the characters due to the game mechanics and story.
The amount of involvement Chris had with Hannah's prank is unclear. He may have known nothing about it, knew about it and let it slide or just let it happened, even getting Josh drunk so the others could pull off the prank.
Hannah's crush on Mike was doomed from the start but there was the fact that she knowingly went after her friend's boyfriend and openly pined for him, so she could be seen less sympathetic and innocent as claimed.
Ashley potentially condemning Chris to die. Many fans see her as vindictive and heartless, leaving Chris to be killed by the Wendigo because Ashley felt betrayed by Chris's potential earlier actions to save himself rather than her. Another occasion was when Emily was bitten by a Wendigo and Ashley wanted to throw the former out to certain death. Is she a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who is only concerned about her wellbeing and shifts the blame to others? Or is she an anxious Nice Girl placed in an extremely traumatic and stressful situation and sincerely sorry for her actions?
A subtle one is Mike, should the player choose to kill Emily out of fear that her Wendigo bite was infectious. If the player checks his Character Traits after the deed, his "Funny" and "Honest" traits oddly go up. Was Mike amused that he had just shot someone, his ex-girlfriend to be exact? Or was he writing it off as a joke to cope with the mental trauma?
It's left up to interpretation whether or not Mike and Emily were having an affair and cheating with their respective partners. They are Amicable Exes and their relationship stats are surprisingly high and they remain rather friendly and close with each other. Some say they aren't cheating but aren't entirely over each other. Others say they did cheat but by the time Ashley saw them hugging through the telescope, they decided for the sake of their new relationships to move on. While Mike is coping with it well, Emily isn't, hence her picking a fight with Jessica.
Josh's motives for the elaborate prank on his friends are unclear. He first claims it was revenge on them for his sisters' disappearance, but then talks about how it was done for the sake of becoming famous by uploading the prank online. He also says it was done to get his best friend Chris to confess to his crush Ashley.
There is also his reasoning for picking on Sam, Chris and Ashley for his prank - the three characters who were the least involved with his sisters' prank. One interpretation was that Josh chose Sam and Chris in particular because they were the closest to him and he felt most betrayed by their potential involvement of the prank. A different interpretation was that Josh simply meant to prank everyone and was getting the people least involved done first. Another popular interpretation was that Josh wanted to make Sam and Chris the heroes if the prank was uploaded and went viral, while simultaneously projecting his own self loathing that he couldn't help his sisters onto Sam and Chris.
Another argument was that Josh legitimately thought his friends wouldn't take the prank seriously and they would just laugh it off with him. It's difficult to tell, due to Josh's warped perception of reality, whether Josh genuinely wanted or intended to hurt his friends versus him honestly believing it was all a game (with the intention to still hurt his friends).
Faldio's motives. Did he shoot Alicia because it was the only trump card he had and nobody else had any better ideas? Or was he just plain power-hungry and jealous of Welkin?
Faldio: irredeemable asshole who jumped at the chance to shoot his best friend's girl as much out of jealousy as patriotism, or the only person with the guts to choose the many over the one when his back was against the wall? It's usually a matter of how you feel about the romance plot.
There's also Welkin: the game plays up the idea that he's a cute, well-meaning nature-nerd who only wants to save his country so he go home and be a teacher, but some fans speculate that he's got a nasty Jerkass streak, and isn't actually that smart — mainly that he seems very comfortable with ignoring Alicia's existential crisis until it's time for him to save the day, he physically assaulted Faldio because he couldn't argue with his logic, and anyone with any kind of deductive reasoning could have told that the river was shallower where there were plants growing up out of it.
Welkin in general. Is he the sweet, good-hearted biology genius the story makes him out to be? Or are the conspicuous lapses in his intelligence hinting at something darker under the surface?
Jaeger. Renegade lone wolf cooperating with his oppressors just enough to keep them off his back, or opportunistic Karma Houdini out for his own best interests?
Warcraft fans like to make these up. Bringing them up on a forum can cause Flame Wars, so beware.
The Night Elves: From the Alliance perspective, a peaceful, beautiful, spiritual race; purple Na'vi with magic and big ears. From the Horde perspective, however, they're a bunch of reclusive, omnicidal, xenophobic snobs.
Thrall: The Jesus of Azeroth, a power-hungry, warlike despot who just fools people into thinking he cares about the orcs' traditions and freedom to keep his power, or a weak, naive fool, who lets himself be manipulated by the true evils of Azeroth, such as the Forsaken and the Blood Elves? This seems to be breaking up facets of his "canon" self—a competent leader who wants to find peace in the world and is willing to work with morally ambiguous people because his race was no better—into the dominant trait.
The Forsaken and the Blood Elves themselves are open to debate as well. When it comes to the Forsaken, are they just defending themselves from a world that already viewed them as monsters, even before some of their more vile actions, or have they taken their ideas of self-preservation too far and become little better than the Scourge? Meanwhile, with the Blood Elves, do they deserve to be pitied for all the suffering they have endured and should it be believed that they are truly seeking a "cure" for their magical addiction, or have they already gone past the point of no return, and not only will their addiction eventually destroy them, but everyone else as well?
Well as of Cataclysm's announcements, anything is up for debate now. Point in case, Night Elves are getting mages and delving into Arcane Magic... which is the thing that they got shitty with the High/Blood Elves over to begin with. This does soundly say that the Night Elves can shut up their preaching about the evils of Arcane Magic though.
Arthas (before his FaceHeel Turn): A spoiled, overzealous and vengeful brat who never would have made a good king anyways, or everything a paladin and prince was ever meant to be, or someone who was doing the best he could and wound up breaking down under the pressure? The human campaign takes place in a VERY short period of time. In Warcraft III, Arthas wasn't given more than a few days of rest between the first mission in which he meets the Scourge, the one in which his forces are nearly overrun by undead, and his attempt to nurse his ego and "cleanse" Stratholme. It would seem Ner'zhul thought that if he had the time to retreat and take council with his father, things would have turned out differently. Also, the "let's destroy the beasts!" line from the first mission and the "I should be king" line from clicking on him enough sort of proves that the paladin training hadn't really taken root very deeply - not yet, anyway. The real question would be how Arthas would've reacted if given a chance to grow a bit - or to consider his options.
Now with his death the question remains: did he truly die with his humanity restored or was he unrepenant to the end and what he said were intended to show disappointment in his failure and dread of actually dying? Word of God seems to deny that he was redeemed in any way, but given the myriad interpretations of his final words along with some of the quests that relate to his passing (the one with Jaina's locket) it could only be Metzen's interpretation and not an official one, we may never know...
During his undead life, was he a Bad Boss or a Benevolent Boss? He's shown to be both, with sending the death knights out on a suicide mission, caring very little for some of his soldier's deaths yet he mourns troops who couldn't keep going on during the third war, Thought of Kel'Thuzad as a friend instead of a servant and declared he wouldn't let his followers get killed by the rebels.
Illidan: Was he a hero who was willing to go to extreme lengths to save his friends, family, and the world? Was he an Anti-Hero who still ultimately did the right thing? Was he a Well-Intentioned Extremist who didn't realize his own evil? Or was he just a power-mad loner who did a couple of good deeds to justify it to himself? Notable in that the writing of the games have slowly slid from the first to the last in the way it portrays both his current and past actions over time.
A little of both. He's clearly addicted to power and is extremely ruthless, but isn't completely heartless. He did sincerely love Tyrande, and he didn't get into any of the "force her to love me" routine. For the most part, however, his motives to appear to selfish. Legion and its supplementary material, in particular, posit that all of these interpretations are valid to some extent, and In-Universe various other characters lean in one direction or another over him (the split between Kayn and Altruis being the most obvious).
Orgrim Doomhammer: A tragic hero who wanted the best for the orcs, even if it meant the destruction of the humans, or a murderous, backstabbing warlord? (It's entirely possible, using the demonic corruption backstory, that it was first one, and then the other.)
One of the reasons Orgrim is up to so may interpretations is the number of retcons relating to him; originally he decieved and ambushed Lothar (greatest human hero ever); later this was retconned into killing him in an honorable, on on one fight — something a lot of people didn't like. Also, he was known among the orcs as "The Backstabber" for usurping the position of Warchief from Blackhand. A lot of people took this to mean he stabbed Blackhand in the back in a cowardly assassination attempt; it was never clearly stated in the original lore and was someone in line with his behavior, like ambushing Lothar. It was later explained that he killed Blackhand in a fair fight— he was called the backstabber because Blackhand was popular. From there, Orgrim was mainly doing what was best for the orcs even if it meant wiping out the humans.
Daelin Proudmoore: A prejudiced, violent psychopath who couldn't let go of the past, a noble but tragically short-sighted hero who couldn't let go of the past, or a hero who was betrayed by his own daughter?
Jaina Proudmoore: A philanthropist who is trying to avert pointless tragedies, or a traitor and appeaser who refuses to see the big picture? Her actions willfully condemned her own father to death and later denied the Alliance a golden opportunity to decapitate the Horde's leadership: was she saving lives or ensuring a longer, bloodier war later on?
And that's not even getting into the theories that her support of Thrall (and thereby the Horde) may have a deeper motive.
Or she's just plain evil. Two of her boyfriends and arguably her father have gone insane, she manipulated Thrall into bumping off Daddy, and everything which happens seems to consolidate her powerbase. Now in Cataclysm, Alliance forces (presumably under her command) have invaded the Barrens.
Sylvanas Windrunner: has she, as an undead horror, retained any of her former heroism and nobility, or is she a twisted, irrevocably corrupted mockery of everything she was in life? Interestingly enough, this particular one is occasionally discussed in-game, especially among the Blood Elves in Quel'thalas to whom Sylvanas has offered her protection and sponsorship. There are more than enough hints of both a genuine sadness and a merciless, ruthless streak, as revealed in various events that emphasize either her bitterness or her melancholy, though currently she seems slightly closer towards good than evil. (The RPG books listed Sylvanas as Lawful Evil, but they're a bit out of date in the timeline, and Blizzard seems to love teasing players with this one.)
The Lament of the Highborne and The Lady's Necklace quests seem to support the genuine sadness part. However, after you finish the quest, she yells at the player character who was thinking she was weak and holding on to the past. Maybe she's just kidding herself?
She also becomes increasingly ruthless in Cataclysm, raising undead for the Horde and using the same New Plague that was used at the Wrathgate. One interpretation is that having accomplished her goal of revenge against the Lich King, she has lost sight of all other goals she once had. Another is that the incident and the Horde bailing her out solidified her loyalty to the Horde and that she's trying to help them against the Alliance while refusing to accept that they don't like the assistance that they're getting.
She also essentially blackmails the Blood Elves into joining the Horde's war against the Scourge by threatening to cut off all Horde support (Forsaken included) in their lands in Lor'themar's short story, In The Shadow Of The Sun, implying she doesn't care much for her old people either.
Furthermore, even later novels set during the third war show that her We Have Reserves strategy extends to when she was still alive.
Rexxar: noble defender of a threatened people, uncaring wildman, or bloodthirsty tool of Thrall's tyranny?
King Varian Wrynn: A proud and noble ruler who stands up for what he believes in and refuses to let anything harm the Alliance ever again or a hotheaded, barbaric racist looking for an excuse to declare war out of revenge for what happened to him? Or is he just human, a person who tries to be a good king and father, but is held back by his Lo'Gosh persona and personal failings?
Garrosh Hellscream: violent and insane berserker who wants power at any cost (usually goes with Messiah!Thrall) or the only one who can run the Horde efficiently (usually goes with Naive!Thrall)?
The short story "Heart Of War" asks us to make another decision on Garrosh; Is he an honorable person who is trying to protect his people from the Alliance's aggression in the only place they can call home, or is he too afflicted with Moral Myopia and unfamiliar with the past conflicts to think that people have reason to hate the Horde, and whose "standards" are a way of seeming better than his enemies?
During the final mak'gora with Thrall, which ends in Garrosh's death, Garrosh accuses Thrall of leaving him the responsibility of running the Horde, even though Garrosh wasn't ready for it. Does Garrosh have a point, meaning that Thrall was partly responsible for his misdeeds, or is he blaming others for his own mistakes? Furthermore, consider that the last time Thrall and Garrosh met, Garrosh arrogantly dismissed Thrall as no longer a true orc, and accused him of weakening the Horde even as Garrosh's allies turned against him. Did Garrosh come to regret his actions, or does he still think that he's a better Warchief than Thrall?
Grom Hellscream: father of the above character, subject of similar interpretations, even in-universe. Revered as a hero of the Horde by Thrall for his Redemption Equals DeathHeroic Sacrifice, most members of the Alliance would rather remember what he did during the previous wars. Mercilessly mowing down people with his giant axe, that's what he did. Including an elven demigod, after he was supposedly redeemed the first time and corrupted again.
Notably, some members of the Horde, such as Cairne and Varok, are grateful for what he did for the Orcs, but also acknowledge his misdeeds.
Kael'Thas Sunstrider: Well-Intentioned Extremist trying vainly to save his slaughtered kin and their addiction to magic... or fallen power mad Prince in service of those that slaughtered his people? There's a lot of Lore Rage about Kael... and Illidan...
Tyrande Whisperwind: Noble and respected leader of the Sentinels during the Long Vigil who did what she had to do to defend her people or disobedient, racist, and unfaithful woman who justifies the manipulation of the men who love her and unleashes a great evil on Azeroth with her goddess?
Malfurion notes upon emerging from the Emerald Dream and seeing her for the first time in 1,000 years that she's different than he remembers, and she notes that it's because she has been fighting for her people all this time. It's possible that she started out as a kind person, then became colder as a result of fighting alone against many enemies for a millennium, but after being reunited with her beloved Malfurion, learning the value of cooperation in the battle on Mount Hyjal (she tells Jaina, "Your plan is a bold one, girl. Perhaps I have misjudged you outlanders") and joining the Alliance, opened up to others again.
Malfurion himself: Is he a wise and noble leader who recognizes the pointlessness of Alliance/Horde conflict, or a useless hypocrite who refuses to stand up to the Horde when they attack the Night Elves?
Murlocs: Demon fish-people who slaughter other races for fun and profit, or noble souls forced from their deep-sea homes and trying to survive a world of hate?
In Cataclysm, Donna, a young girl in Stormwind who had previously been chasing William to get her doll back, steals William's Grindgear Gorilla and runs off with it. Is this meant to teach William a lesson, or does it show that she is, deep down, as much of a jerk as he is?
Obviously this is a very deep statement by Blizzard on the nature of the PvP system. One side attacks the other, then the attacked side responds in kind. Then everyone respawns and we do it all again, day-in day-out. No one ever "wins the war" and no one is ever on top for very long. It's an odd statement for Blizzard to make, given that they're the ones who set up the faction system in such a way that conflict is the only way the two sides are capable of interacting.
Or maybe we're overthinking it.
Another Cataclysm example: Trade Prince Gallywix: Callous Jerkass who represents traditional Goblin Values and is the best representation of a leader for their race? Or a callous Jerkass who have done so many horrible things that he is hated by everyone for good reason and is unfit to lead the goblins?
The Twilight's Hammer Cult: opportunists in search of power? People driven to what they believe is the only path available by the dark times? Victims of Old God brainwashing?
Emperor Lei Shen? A tyrannical, fascist, Social Darwinist and Knight Templar that only sought absolute power to enslave those he deemed inferior under the delusion of doing the "work" of the Titans? An Well-Intentioned Extremist who had to commit these actions to survive and rid the Mogu of th curse of flesh? Or a visionary who brought order to Pandaria after disunity and protected it from the Mantid despite the high loss of life? Or all three? Or just a pawn of the Zandalari in their attempt to resurrect their empire?
At the end of "Dark Heart of Pandaria," Grizzle Gearslip and his goblin workers have finished their mission, with many casualties, and Malkorok gives Grizzle only a fraction of the promised payment. Grizzle protests, but Malkorok says "the Warchief does not compensate the dead", and they should see an honorable death as its own reward before launching into a "The Reason You Suck" Speech against Grizzle's greed. Is Grizzle trying to get Malkorok to abide by the original terms of the contract (albeit for not completely noble reasons), only to get cheated out of his payment due to Malkorok and Garrosh's racism against goblins who died doing a dangerous job for the Horde? Or is Malkorok simply acting out of a principle of loyalty and honor (albeit which compel him to do terrible things at times), and rightly calling Grizzle out on his trying to make money off of his dead workers?
In the Tol Dagor instance of Battle for Azeroth, Korgus, overseer of the prison, risks Lady Ashvane's wrath by refusing to flood the lower levels to deal with the rioting prisoners. Is this because of (possibly misplaced) faith in his men's ability to do their jobs, or does he find this act so reprehensible that he'd rather risk being killed for his failure than stoop that low?
The World Ends with You (or It's A Wonderful World) has many of the characters being easily able to be Alternatively Characterized, and in fact has an extra chapter where it does just that, expanding on many of the traits already visible in the main story.
Joshua's ambiguously gayness, having the ambiguous part taken out. This can even be further alternatively characterized as him simply messing with Neku, and in fact being straight.
In the end, was Joshua a Smug Snake, Magnificent Bastard who enjoyed forcing people to play games and in fact knew he wouldn't destroy Shibuya from the first day, or was he inspired by Neku's refusal to shoot him?
Shiki is either cheerful and positive because she's pretending to be more like Eri, or because that's how she is, but she's too shy and unconfident to show it.
Neku either genuinely hates people, or can't bear to be close to them, afraid he'll get hurt (the second seems more likely, though, given what his exposition about his old friend as he climbs up Pork City reveals). He could also be afraid that he'll hurt them, indirectly.
Does Neku have a romantic interest in Shiki, or is it simply the first person he's opened up to that she becomes his fee for the second week? It's implied that Kitaniji made her Neku's "entry fee" to cover up the fact that without the Composer, he couldn't bring anyone back to life, which would mean Shiki doesn't necessarily have to be most important to Neku, but Neku never doubts that she's that important to him after hearing the news.
Is Beat so stupid he doesn't notice what's going on, or is he so driven by his goals he doesn't notice?
Kariya is either too lazy to get promoted, or he enjoys Uzuki's company so much he doesn't want to leave their partnership.
Or he's perfectly aware of how corrupt the higher-ups are and has no intention of joining them.
Another Day does a number on Rhyme. Is she a genuinely pure, wise little girl, or is that just a façade to obscure her cruel, manipulative nature?
The Walking Dead has this on a wider scale than most games due to the fact that, while most characters core traits remain, the way they treat you is often determined by your choices.
In Season One, Kenny can be either a loyal friend of Lee's who goes through things no man should have to experience but still supports Lee to the end, or a redneck asshole who gets angry at Lee for weeks because Lee wouldn't help him murder a pensioner or for other stupid reasons, and unable to take any criticism. This continues in Season Two, where he's either a determined leader who still suffers much more than others and occasionally vents his anger on people who don't deserve but is overall the most helpful member of your group, or a self-centered man who once again cannot take criticism, fails to see the error in his ways, constantly looks for someone to take his anger out on, and ultimately tries to murder the only other survivor left in your group. Regardless of what choices you made, it can't be denied that Kenny Can't Take Criticism, but also cares about more people than most others in your group.
Depending on a single choice, The Stranger can be either the Hero of Another Story who lost everything because Lee took everything he had left, has suffered just as much as anyone else, and had no bad intentions until you showed up, or he can be a lunatic who lost everything because of his own stupidity, chose to blame it on Lee despite Lee having nothing to do with it, talks to a decapitated zombie head, and thinks he can raise a child better than Lee despite all his problems starting off when he lost his own child.
Jane in Season Two. Is she an unreliable ally who only sticks around if she feels it's necessary, cares only about herself and puts AJ's life in danger while at the same time Indirectly but intentionally killing Kenny, or is she a friend who simply doesn't know how to handle being in a group, but still helpful, pragmatic and willing to make the tough decisions?
Bonnie is an odd one, and a HeelFace Revolving Door to boot. She's either a lackey of the Arc Villain who tries to convince Clem that it's not so bad being a prisoner, but eventually gets cold feet and helps you escape - only to soon turn out to be fairly useless without someone to tell her what to do, unable to take responsibility if she gets Luke killed, and eventually gets cold feet again and tries to make off with all your remaining supplies, or she's an innocent young woman who's somewhat oblivious to the world she lives in, leading her to change sides, but again unable to take the strain the world puts on her.
Arvo — Either a crippled young man who gets robbed, loses his entire group when they try to get revenge, becomes a prisoner, harshly beaten by Kenny, and may have died off-screen in Season 2 Episode 5, or a survivor who helped turn a gang of Russian thugs against you over a little mistreatment, disrespected the only people in your group who were nice to him, came close to getting himself killed a few times, and was last seen holding the gun that shot none other than you no matter how nice you tried to be to him.
Lee and Clementine, as the player characters, are completely decided by your choices. They can be moral, pragmatic, kind, self-centered, assholes, or simply mute.
Common in anything made by Zap Dramatic, chief among them the player character(s). Since none of them are really defined, some people just like to pretend its the same guy every time.
A popular interpretation of Helen from Ambition is that she is the only sane woman in a world full of pretentious idiots. Her actions in "The Tryst" are interpreted as the result of years of putting up with this taking a toll on her psyche.
Wilhelm from Xenosaga get a fair bit of alternate interpretations. Is he a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is underestimating humanity or a somewhat cold man who is nonetheless working for the greater good? Depends largely on if you believe Eternal Recurance was a means or an end. It could be both, considering his main goal was to prevent the collapse of the lower domain (our universe). And when the alternatives are our universe getting destroyed and the upper one staying around or BOTH getting destroyed. Considering both ways end up with the lower domain still around either by resetting everything or the collective unconscious evolving enough to prevent or reverse the dispersion that would have lead to said destruction. And since doing something like THAT is by no means easy, he really skirts the line between Well-Intentioned Extremist and Necessarily Evil.
Wilhelm may have been trying to become God (or really was him, thus making it a case of God Is Evil) himself. Not only does he have some subtle A God Am I like moments, he also can make people immortal, see the consciousness of anyone he likes, and is able to keep the time-loop he had going. Also, he can do whatever he wants, whether it's transporting gigantic robots with the snap of a finger or force choking someone. He also acts more like God than what the official explanation is. He claims U-DO is God and that the two Abels are it's observation vessels, but knowing Wilhelm, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that he had something to do with that too. This is the guy who was behind the U.M.N. Another thing is that we never really saw what happened to him and Kevin. It's assumed that he dies along with Kevin, but they never show them actually disappearing (like they did with Caanan and Voyager) nor do they mention it after the last boss fight. This leaves me to believe he just went to a different dimension (most likely the Upper one) during the Zarathustra battle. I mean, I find it hard to believe that he'd give a Testament the power to kill him, let alone create just one key to activate Zarathustra. He probably just went elsewhere to plan. Not that we'd ever find out anyway, thanks to the series being canceled.
Warframe has many, many examples due to leaving several plot points vague so that it can expand on them in later quests and events.
The Lotus has many examples - is she truly a loyal mother figure to the Tenno, or was she brainwahsed by the Orokin to fulfil this role to make hte Tenno more pliable. Did she willingly return to the Sentients or was that also a result of brainwashing.
The Perrin Sequence wanting to share their wealth with the system could be seen as being genuine charity or simply Pragmatic Villainy, as their peaceful way of seraching for profit would entice more followers and avoid the wrath of the Tenno. "The Glast Gambit" indicates that their leader, at least, genuinely believes that charity is something that should be done for its own sake, but it never specifies whether this is the majority view of his associates.
New Loka may want to restore Earth and humanity to a pristine state, but due to the sheer amount of genetic divergence among humans in the Warframe universe, their obsession with the pure human form makes them come off as A Nazi by Any Other Name.
The Tenno themselves, due to their nature as Heroic Mimes and an overall lack of story, initially came off as this, with it being ambiguous if the Tenno were fighting the various powers of the system because We Help the Helpless or because they were Punch Clock Heroes. The introduction of the Syndicates put a wrench in this idea, though, and the appearance of Soalris United ultimately did away with this entirely, cementing that the Tenno really do help others for the sake of helping others.
Thanks to the game's intentionally vague plot and the ambiguous nature of its setting, Yume Nikki is subject to a lot of this. Because there is essentially no dialogue, speculation about the player character and the other figures seen in her dreams can run wild. Popular interpretations range from the likely idea that Madotsuki is a hikikomori who lives almost solely in her dreams, through to bizarre and apocalyptic scenarios where she is trapped in her apartment by an Eldritch abomination. The latter would be easy to dismiss as Wild Mass Guessing, if it weren't for the fact that a similar scenario is canon for the game's manga adaptation. Even her age is difficult to know for certain, because of the game's 8-bit graphics.