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Heroes are often mired in unfortunate circumstances. Specifically, the particular set of protagonists featured in this article have lackluster job performances – they might be heroes, but they suck at their supposed every day jobs. Imagine employing an Italian plumbing firm only to discover they are frequently unavailable to complete contracted work thanks to swanning off on adventures to save princesses from giant lizard kings while under the influence of power-inducing mushrooms. You wouldn’t recommend them to friends in a hurry.

But instead of making us disregard these characters as slackers or bumbling fools, their ineptitude has made each of them a little more intriguing, and even the unsavory characters listed here are rendered somewhat appealing by tragic circumstances or fatal flaws related to their careers.

So here they are, the 10 video game heroes who are actually quite awful at their jobs.

Warning: MAJOR spoilers ahead for several popular franchises. Proceed at your own risk.

1. Max Payne

  • Job: Detective/Bodyguard

Max Payne

At the beginning of the first game, Max Payne is content and quite ready to slip into a quiet, suburban life with his beautiful wife and newborn daughter. Alas, contentedness is a state that, by nature, is temporary—sometimes violently so. Max’s family is cruelly snatched away from him when two junkies high on a drug called “Valkyr”  break into his home and murder them.

He shoots down the invaders and then, at his family’s funeral, requests a transfer to the DEA to fight against the distribution of the drug. It’s during his time as an undercover agent that he slips away from the traditional characterization of a detective as someone opting to use brains over brawn whenever possible. Through the events of the series, Max accumulates a massive body count as he fills gun toting buffoons and mafia caricatures full of hot lead. Max becomes an action hero, albeit a reluctant, brooding one. And even in that role, he performs somewhat miserably, truthfully remarking within the first hour of the second game that, “Like all the bad things in my life, it started with the death of a woman. I couldn’t save her.”

Payne can never save anyone he cares for, except for Raul Passos and Giovanna Taveres, but even that instance feels like a hollow victory in comparison to everything  our poor detective has endured.

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This article was first posted on December 29, 2012