Characters can be so much more than their end goal. They have personalities, unique traits and there is no one else like them. So many characters are held back from being great because of stereotypes or tropes that the writers put them into. It’s a bottomless pit that they can’t climb their way out of.
My first example is Mad Moxxi from the Borderlands series. Moxxi is stuck in the stereotype of a slut that she opens her legs for anyone and has had many husbands. But, so many crucial details are missed if you think of Moxxi this way. She’s a caring mother and only tries to make the best for her children when she is left in situations where her children are unsafe. She’s not a slut stereotype at all. Instead, she’s a caring mother and a woman that’s just trying to find love on Pandora.
Another example that can be made of another Borderlands character is Tiny Tina. Children are often thought of as weak and fragile, but Tiny Tina breaks the mold and becomes an independent, cool 13-year-old determined to torture and kill the man who killed her parents.
On the less extreme side, there’s Ellie from The Last of Us. She shows her independence and willpower when forced to take care of Joel during a section of the game. She does get captured at one point, but it doesn’t take her long to escape. You also have to consider the time she had been taking care of Joel that was at least a month, which was covered in the Left Behind DLC. For a 14-year-old girl, that’s quite a lot to deal with. Her emotions are human, but many perceive her as a weak companion and not competent. Many let’s play-ers have made comments on how she wasn’t good enough or she even sucked. I disagree, since in order to make it through the whole story of The Last of Us, she had to be brave and fearless.
I think one of the obvious ones I’m going to bring up is Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite and the Burial at Sea DLC. In Bioshock she is no more than an ammo, health and salt resource, but she knows so much more. She read plenty and could have been way more of a companion than what she was. In Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea, she shows her skills and what they should’ve done with her character in Bioshock Infinite. She’s by herself and altogether a better and more interesting character.
It’s not only girls that get pushed back into stereotypes and tropes like Ezio from the Assassins Creed games. He has a charming personality, but he gets pushed back into the stereotype of going for revenge. There were many opportunities for him to use his charm in other ways to get revenge without doing mindless assassin work.
Characters start as a pile of clay and the writers develop them into humans with emotions. But, putting the character into the obvious stereotype is boring and overdone, I could play 500 other games with the same story. If you, the reader, ever become a game developer or a writer, please be unique. It’s much more interesting for everyone.