Sort of. The player characters can have varying personalities depending on your choices, but Ethan Mars takes the cake. Is he a Woobie who's plagued with guilt over the death of his son and willing to do anything to save Shaun, or is he a pathetic loser who's too wrapped up in his own troubles to be any good for his child, resulting in Shaun's death?
It is possible that all the characters are reallylooking to die given so many of their poor decisions.
How one views Scott Shelby as the Origami killer depends on what end scenario you get. In one end scenario, Scott prepares to shoot Ethan even after he had succeeded in the trials, suggesting that he just uses his trauma as an excuse to satisfy his urges. But in another scenario, Shelby lets Ethan shoot him after rescuing his son, suggesting he is either a Death Seeker or that he at least wanted to die gunned down by a father willing to do whatever it took to save his son.
Jason, in a couple of ways. He acts like a child much younger than ten, but the reasons for that are never mentioned; does he have a developmental disorder? Ordinary immaturity? Or just a plain, poorly-written kid? This is largely due to him originally being younger during development, before writers had to make him older to tone down the dark and cruel content surrounding the death of a child.
For most of the game, Madison seems like a fairly empathetic human being. But her behavior in some of the endings such as suggesting to Ethan that she bear him another son, right in front of Shaun's freshly filled in grave—and then, if he rejects her, writing a best-selling book about the whole incident that makes her look like a hero in a blatant betrayal of Ethan's trust make her look a lot less sympathetic than the heroic Intrepid Reporter she seems to have been written as. Whether Madison is in fact a sociopath or just the victim of bad writing is left to the player's judgement.
Angst? What Angst?: If Shaun survives the events of the game, He doesn't seem at all traumatized by the ordeal he's suffered through at the hands of the killer. Also, Madison. As unlike Ethan and Norman, she's not bothered much by the harrowing events she goes through over the course of the game.
Ass Pull: The reveal that Scott Shelby, one of the player characters, is the Origami Killer can come across as this. While it doesn't come completely out of nowhere, and there's plenty of Foreshadowing if you know where to look, some gamers still see the twist as questionable, failing to comprehend how someone who is as overweight and unfit as Scott could set up the trials for Ethan, or how even when thinking to himself, meaning that no one could possibly overhear him, Scott never once lets on his true identity for the sake of a dramatic reveal. Not to mention the scene wherein the clock shop owner is killed and Shelby is panicked and shocked—despite the fact that the twist reveals that he was the one who did it..
Base-Breaking Character: Madison and her playable segments are rather controversial among the audience. One group perceives her as a well written and strong female character who is capable of impressive feats against her aggressors without being portrayed as a damsel in distress, and is independent enough to help Ethan in his quest to save his son, going as far as to put herself in danger to find clues of the child whereabouts. Another group argues that Madison is portrayed as an unnecessary form of fan-service that adds nothing to the story, along with several events where Madison is often attacked by several sexually violent aggressors, such as the nightmares in her debut, Adrian Baker who tries to sexually assault her with an electric drill as she is strapped to a table, and Paco Mendez who forces her at gunpoint to strip naked, which gives the impression that it's all a creepy attempt at Fanservice.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Madison's dream, albeit downplayed. It does drive the story—Madison, too stressed to sleep in her own place, checks into a motel and meets Ethan—but the explanation for it was cut from the final version of the game. The explanation for the nightmare doesn't make a lot of sense either: Madison was traumatized by her time as a reporter during the Iraq war, wherein she failed to prevent an unfolding terrorist bombing. And yet her nightmares are about having her home invaded and then being killed by masked burglars.
Complete Monster: Leland White is the depraved titular Serial Killer of "The Taxidermist" prequel DLC, whom Madison investigates under suspicion of him being the Origami Killer, only to discover that he's somehow much more wicked. Seeming to be a quiet and lonely man, when Madison breaks into his house, it's discovered he murdered about a dozen women, whom he stuffs to preserve their bodies all around his house to keep as "dolls". The player can witness Leland talking to these corpses about new "friends" he has in mind to bring home. If alerted to Madison's presence, Leland will take a sadistic and childish joy in hunting her down, and gloating about adding her as part of his collection. Depending on the player's actions, he can either succeed in killing her (in the non canon endings) or potentially kills himself to avoid arrest should she escape.
Delusion Conclusion: Because no explanation is given concerning Agent Norman Jayden's ARI glasses, players like Geek Remix have speculated that they're a figment of his imagination - partly because Jayden is canonically portrayed as a drug addict who hallucinates in several scenes, but mostly because this theory makes as much sense as any of the other unexplained elements in the game. It's been confirmed that a lot of explanatory scenes were arbitrarily cut from the game, so the explanation behind the shades may have ended up becoming a casualty as well.
Designated Villain: While Lt. Blake is certainly not a shining example of good (see his examples under Moral Event Horizon below) and is a Well-Intentioned Extremist at best, he certainly is not a psychopath to the point of being accused of being the Origami Killer (which he's not, by the way). While this doesn't justify his actions, he has a right to be skeptical, and saving Shaun is still his top priority.
Blake and Jayden by fans who choose to interpret their hostility to each other as Belligerent Sexual Tension. It helps that the relationships actually supported by the game come off as forced and awkward, and are often accused of bad writing.
Also Ethan and Jayden, given the latter only begins his investigation separately from Blake after possibly seeing the lieutenant brutally interrogate and beat Ethan in front of him, or just witness how reckless the man is in his pursuit of Ethan.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: If you lose the pretend swordfight against Jason during the prologue, Ethan will fall down and play dead. Shaun will then walk over to Ethan and kneel beside him as if making sure he's okay. It's uncomfortably similar to the scene that occurs if Ethan gets shot by the police during the last chapter, where Shaun will cry over his father's body and beg him to wake up.
There's one where the nude model of Madison will be in place of a normal clothed one in certain parts of the game.
There's a bug in one of the ending cutscenes of the game where the prompt to shout "Shaun" never turns off, making it possible for Ethan to scream "SHAUN!!" all throughout the confrontation with the killer. Many found it hilarious.
On first meeting Lauren in the unpatched version of the game, she will constantly dart back and forth from the bed at ludicrous speed.
Scott Shelby has a fair number of heartwarming and/or heroic moments throughout the game, all of which become this when he's revealed to be the Origami Killer.
In-Universe, if you win the sword fight against Jason, Ethan will pretend to cut him down while Jason dramatically utters "My life...is at an end..." In the very next level, Jason suffers his Plot-Triggering Death.
Jayden and Blake. Counts as Foe Yay, considering how much they hate each other.
During "Shrinks and Punches", if you stop Blake from punching Dupre, he'll get very close to Jayden's face. A little too close.
"I wonder what hole Blake's crawled into."
"I better watch my back with that Blake guy."
Blake to Jayden: "Was that your first time?" He was referring to if Jayden shoots Nathaniel, but when taken out of context...
When Jayden rescues Ethan from the interrogation room, he strokes his hair while helping him up.
Jayden's awfully good at knotting a necktie from the front...
Hype Backlash: Opinions about the game have become significantly more critical in the years after its release. Interestingly, this seems to have been spurred on by a Let's Play done by Two Best Friends Play, which mocked the game with a critical tone.
Iron Woobie: Ethan, depending on how you play him. Also, Madison.
The Origami Killer may have an understandable motivation, and has grown up with a troubled past. But at the end, when Ethan has succeeded in all his trials and found his son, in one scenario it appears that Shelby intends on shooting him and leaving Shaun to die anyway. For some, Scott's manipulation of Lauren counts more.
Lauren:You killed my son, Scott. Were you thinking about that when you held me in your arms?
Lt. Blake has two potential moments: beating Ethan up to know if he's the Origami Killer, and ordering his death.
Kramer wanting to protect his son at any cost may be somewhat understandable; his completely unwarranted comments about Lauren (if she died) being a whore and the victim being "street trash" (said just as Shelby is walking away) almost seem designed as an invocation of this trope.
The kids' stoic line-readings and inexplicable French accents. John's cries for help when he's stuck in the water pipe stand out the most. He could not sound any more disinterested even if he tried:
Similarly, Scott begging for help in the finale against Jayden before he falls to his death sound like he's incredibly uninterested in actually getting any help.
Several characters mispronouncing "origami" as "arigami" or "ori-gammy", with Gordi Kramer being the worst offender. It's actually pronounced "OH-ree-GAW-Mee" in Japanese.
The same three voice clips of Ethan calling for Jason are recycled every time the "Jason" prompt is available, and none of them sound like he's particularly worried.
Blake's "FUCK-inASS HOOOOOLE!" when Norman pisses him off at the station. He'll say this no matter what option you pick, even if he was calm a moment earlier. If you choose the calm option, Blake says it in that exact manner despite his body language clearly not matching his words. It's as if the developers accidentally assigned the wrong line to play at this point.
The above "SHAAAUUUN" glitch in Good Bad Bugs can turn the entire warehouse scene into a truckload of narm.
The entire market chase. From the amount of ways to fail to some of Miroslav Korda's methods to get away, such as knocking down store things like a child to releasing chickens to bother Norman. Norman adds to the Narm by being annoyed by the chickens. For extra narm points, fail every button prompt. It makes Norman looks like a complete klutz.
Madison's downright hilarious "Nee-Yah!" sound that she makes during action scenes.
The way Jayden pronounces his own first name with a Boston accent ("Nawmen") strikes some people as funny.
The sex scene between Ethan and Madison is awkward enough that even gaming websites took to mocking it due to its stiff animation, poor sound sync and flimsy story justification.
Several of the game's villains are often maniacally laughing during their combat scenes, because attempting to torture and/or kill someone clearly doesn't make them evil enough.
Mad Jack's "Go fuck yourself in the ass!" line reaches into this. It doesn't sound nearly as intimidating as the developers probably thought it does.
Any villainy Paco might have had is completely torpedoed by the fact that he sounds an awful lot like Strong Bad.
Never Live It Down: The diaper-changing minigame is a rather smaller deal than it's sometimes made out to be.
Goddammit, why did Scott Shelby have to be the Origami Killer?
Depending on your actions, there could be several more. Made worse by the fact they're probably all your fault!
Porting Disaster: The PlayStation 4 remaster of the game. While it uses high-definition textures and runs in full 1080p resolution, it suffers from all the same bugs and glitches the original release had, is still locked to 30 frames per second, and uses motion controls that do not always function correctly. It also does not include the downloadable episode The Taxidermist from the original release.
Jason was instantly disliked by many fans because of his incredibly stupid behavior in the prologue, which ultimately led to him getting killed. It's a result of poor writing—originally he was to be a younger character, possibly four to six, who would be more prone to wandering off and wouldn't be so careful on a busy street. To make the story a little less dark, the writers aged him up during development, but they didn't bother revising his behavior.
Grace is detested by the vast majority of players on the grounds of her divorcing Ethan after he put his life on the line to save his son from a car - which is sadly Truth in Television for many marriages that suffer similar tragedies. However, claiming virtually everything he owns save for full custody of Shaun is what does it. There's also a point where Grace somehow believes Ethan could be the Origami Killer just based on pure coincidence and unexplained events, which makes her even more hated.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Beginning to evoke this reaction a scant half-decade after its release. It initially received a fair amount of praise for its dark, intricate story and cinematic gameplay. However, games such as The Walking Dead, Life Is Strange, and Until Dawn have combined its basic formula with tighter writing that makethemorequestionableaspects of the plot harder to ignore today. Several reviews of the PlayStation 4 remastered version made note of this, saying that the writing has not aged nearly as well as the visuals.
Shocking Swerve: Shelby being the Origami Killer. On your first playthrough, you're almost certainly not playing him as though he is, making several of his actions rather odd. And even if you do, he often comes across as trying to sabotage his own killings.
The final chapter in the warehouse. Known for being the chapter where Ethan, Madison, or Norman(or all of them, as well as any 2 characters, depending on your choices) make an effort to stop the Origami Killer, and save Shaun. This leads to many emotional(and unintentionally hilarious) moments. This chapter can also go a less desirable way.
Strangled by the Red String: Potentially Ethan and Madison and Shelby and Lauren. The former is especially egregious, as it happens in a inappropriate and nonsensical sex scene, and the two in question have virtually no chemistry before or after it.
When Jayden investigates the scene at the nightclub, one of his thoughts just emphasizes his woobieness:
Jayden: I am sick and tired of getting the shit kicked out of me on this investigation!
There's also Lauren, a mother mourning the loss of her only child. And there really is no happy ending in store for her: she either dies over the course of the game, or survives only to find out that the sweet private detective she's grown attached to while trying to track down her son's killer is her son's killer. Ouch.Lauren does get a somewhat positive ending, where she kills the Origami Killer herself to exact her revenge.
Poor Shaun, who had to watch his older brother die and his father be put into a coma at the same time. Two years later, he's dealing with his parents' divorce and is having a difficult time in school. You can see that his experiences have had a huge impact on him, turning the once cheerful Shaun into a very somber, quiet child. Then he gets kidnapped...