For me, it’s almost always a character that’s gray-area and makes a lot of mistakes that can’t really be just explained away. Or one that you can’t think back on and find more meaning than you thought was originally there.
Generally it’s a character that has interesting flaws or is generally imperfect. Also that are neither obviously good or bad people. I find this is the case with most of Terry Pratchett’s characters like Rincewind or Sam Vines.
You also see this a lot with the characters in the Ice and Fire series.
Specific to interactive mediums though is a character that I’ve really felt I’ve created or impacted through meaningful choices. The ones I remember are the ones where I was torn over what to do and felt invested in their causes. Tali in ME or my robot in choice of robots are the two that stick out most there.
Flaws are important. While it’s not necessary, I also have a particular love for characters who are self-aware and possess a great deal of agency; if a character just passively waits for the main character to do things, they’re much more likely to simply fade into the background. As such, I really like npcs that are willing to challenge the MC’s positions on things by making strong points of their own. Characters written to serve the plot are far less memorable than characters who are written to serve their own ideologies.
As far as archetypes, I really like redemption stories, particularly if the npc has flaws (as above) they need to overcome in order to turn the corner. Prodigal from the Heroes Rise trilogy was a good example of this.
Soul… with that I told you everything. Flaws, imperfections, perspetives… points of view all of it, I want them to be self aware.
In my book I have two character that are always trying to make their point with the MC, one honorable but reckless, while the other is cunning but levity. Even though both make their arguments in certain perspective that seem correct; the MC, beside of what this one believes, will find that those around him will either understand this point or denie it according to the way MC explains it. Just like any other human being, without good arguments your words weights nothing.
Archetypes! I am more of a baroque style… the always seek for purpose. The flaws you make according to your personality and the consequence of your actions. That all!
For me, the most memorable game character of all time will forever be that dog from Duck Hunt. I haven’t played Duck Hunt in almost 10 years and I still know every pixel on that dog’s smug, sniggering face.
Also Cedric “Graham Watch Out” the Owl. “No, Graham! Don’t!” Thanks, Cedric.
I guess the lesson I’ve learned is that there is more than one way to make a character memorable. (“Hey! Listen! Hey! Listen! Hey! Listen!”)
To weigh in, I find that there are several ways to make a character memorable, everybody’s different I suppose but for me a character stands out if they are in contrast with their world. If everyone else in your story is a gritty, anti-heroic group of embittered and scheming ne’er-do-wells, introduce a Captain America style moral rock for them to rally round. Or vice versa of course.
And not to espouse an opinion that will guarantee nobody takes me seriously ever again:
I liked Navi the fairy.
I will accept whatever punishment this Tribunal sees fit to bestow upon me…
There isn’t such punishment for such… nameless crime… I fear you will have to live your entire life span with this shame you bring upon yourself without being able of redemtion, I’m so sorry.
Moreau knew that he was no longer welcome in the lands of men. Tired of the hatred, the violence, the hiding, he decided to travel to the forgotten lands of the East.
Nobody knows whether he found the answers he was looking for, or whether before his end he found some measure of peace.
It is said amongst the peoples of the East that there once lived a man, a lone wanderer who travelled from village to village, setting things right that once went wrong.
And apparently his Z-Targeting skills were legit.
But now, no one would say “hey” to him. And no one would listen.
A character is memorable to me if the author/writer makes me as the reader start to care about them as if they really exist.
A character that provokes questions. That has an impact regardless of it being good or bad.
Most of my favourite characters are hiding something about themselves in creative ways. Nothing more satisfying than discovering those answers or speculating what they are and being right!
In villains I like to see moral ambiguity, I’ve always thought a moustache twirling bad guy is meh. Personal preference on villains though.
well the main way to make a character memorable is if the reader can make them memorable
For me its when a character isn’t too morally straight, they’ll do some good and some bad if the situation really calls for it, they’re able to flow with different ideas and aren’t easy to hurt. The vampire (can’t remember his name) from Way Walkers is a good example, I liked how he was loyal to the MC throughout both of the games even if you denied him a lot or didn’t agree with his choices, he just seemed a bit more realistic. I’m pretty sure there’s a way to make him not so loyal but I haven’t found it yet.
A character who you can feel a real connection to, somebody who will play big role not in the story but for your character on a personal level. The two of you take care of one another, you do a task for them and they do a task for you, heart to hearts, cover one another when mistakes are made. Sometimes there’s a special bond unique only to the two of you. It really makes the character feel human. I’m not talking about romances either, I’m talking companionship and friendship.
And if they’re not a friendly NPC, a satisfying rivalry between the two of you. Respect and honour is expressed to you both and when the time is needed, you team up and become the epic badges duo for a short time.
Jenny Yu (Heroes Rise)
Emma (Zombie Exodus.)
Commander Hawkins (Mecha Ace.)
Ashleigh Wakefield (Deathless.)
Small imperfections make characters memorable especially when there ashamed of them or they try so hard to get over them and fail.
the golden evil also does the same. examples would be lex luthar from comics he is dark hurts so many and yet to the public he is a saint.
Aside from that dog, here are some video game characters that have stuck with me, off the top of my head:
Memorable characters whose personality seeps into the environment, so you feel their presence even when they aren’t there.
- Achenar (Myst)
- Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2)
- Andrew Ryan (Bioshock)
- SHODAN from System Shock should probably be here too, but I never got very far into System Shock.
Memorable characters that provide a unique twist to an old archetype
- GLaDOS (Portal)
- Minsc and Boo (Baldur’s Gate)
- The Nameless One (Planescape)
Memorable characters with carefully developed emotional depth, whose emotions emerge out of interaction with the player’s character
- Ellie (Last of Us)
- Dak’kon (Planescape)
Characters that scared me as a child
- The ogre and his wife (King’s Quest IV)
- Chaos (Loom)
- The ghost in the mirror (Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession)
- Evil Otto (Berserk)
Before there was Pyramid Head, there was Otto.
For me a memorable character is someone I can connect with whether it be by loving or hating them or them being similar to me in any way
Hmm, it’s not easy to say.
I suppose, for me, what makes a character special is if they’re not really one of the good guys. If they have their faults and have maybe done some terrible things, but are still somehow relatable and likable. I like villains who have their reasons for what they do - they don’t have to be noble reasons, just reasons that make sense.
Good guys tend to think too much in black-and-white for me.
(Ultimately, I think I just told you what makes me LIKE a character, not what makes a character memorable. Maybe it’s the same thing, though.)