“That little girl’s in my care! We’ve been through more together than you can imagine. Anyone who tries to get between me and her — ANYONE! — is gonna wind up dead! You hear me?!”
We’re now into the final stretch as the top 25 rolls along with our top 10 characters. Tomorrow, our list continues the countdown to the #1 male video game character of all-time on Aug. 31.
9) Lee Everett (The Walking Dead) – 4 votes/189 points
Chris: Pitted against the harsh backdrop of survival, Lee Everett truly gets his time to shine. When it’s you against the world and the world is full of flesh-eating zombies, priorities tend to change. Most people in the world of The Walking Dead have lost their humanity — and that includes the ones who haven’t been bitten yet. They become selfish, looking out for no one but themselves and slowly descending into a paranoid, distrustful husk.
Lee is the anomaly. On his way to prison in the game’s opening moments, he escapes when the police car wrecks and stumbles down an unimaginable path. Along the way, his choices affect which of his allies live or die. He makes the tough calls when supplies are low or when new shelter needs to be found. He puts up with Kenny’s obnoxious whining. He develops a small romance with a quick-thinking journalist. All of this despite, you know, the world being a zombie-ridden mess.
But nothing defines Lee’s character like his relationship with Clementine. The two of them have some of the most real and heart-wrenching conversations you’ll ever see in a video game. We’ve seen these situations plenty of times before in media today, especially as zombies have gone from popular to overdone, but never with this level of humanity and authentic dialogue. And the ending…my goodness. If you don’t feel anything inside while going through the fifth chapter, you might as well check to see if you’re a zombie yourself.
Shaun: The ending of The Walking Dead Season 1 is the only game ever to make me tear up. I’m not ashamed to say it. And ALL of that emotion stems from the investment I made in Lee Everett, one of gaming’s most compelling, well-written characters ever.
Lee went to hell and back for Clementine, including hacking off his own zombie-bitten arm to buy himself just a little more time to find her, and wading through a sea of zombies to save her, while simultaneously setting the world record for “Most Zombie Bites Without Dying.”. If you mess with Clem, Lee has no more f***s to give, and he’s coming for you.
This dedication comes full circle at the game’s end. As you sit there, saying your final, tragic, heart-wrenching words to young Clementine, you’re hit with a doubly sobering realization – not only is your hero, who you’ve grown a significant attachment to over the course of the title due to his groundedness and relatability, dying, but with him dies the interactions with Clementine, the relationship that is the heart of The Walking Dead. I felt like I was losing a friend…and then I thought about how it’s JUST A FREAKING VIDEO GAME and that I wasn’t actually losing anyone at all.
Lee, you make me question my very reality, and for that, I love you.
Joseph: Life is hard enough as it is. Toss in some zombies and things don’t get easier. Lee has the misfortune of being saddled with every hard choice known to man. Is every choice between one person’s life or the next? No, but it certainly feels that way when you play him. Trying to think of the possible ramifications of grabbing a hammer vs. a screwdriver can be nerve wracking, and Lee had to stare into the eyes of every one of his companions and say a silent prayer for their souls every time he made the decision to turn left. If he wasn’t cursed with a conscience, it wouldn’t have been a problem. But he felt every loss and died a little with each character.
And on top of all of that, he had the responsibility of training Clementine to survive, whether he used an open palm or a closed fist to do it. I can only hope, in his final moments, he remembered a simpler time. A time when choosing a latte didn’t get someone’s head blown off, and upgrading to high-speed Internet didn’t lead to amputation.
Michaela: Lee’s struggle for survival in The Walking Dead is gripping and his relationship with Clementine is sweet and touching. It’s great that his personality can be fleshed out and defined by the player. Depending on your decisions, Lee can be ruthless and cold, or fatherly and kind. His influence on the other characters is important to the story and their survival, and the finale is brutal and heart-wrenching for both the player and Lee.
Christine: Lee’s best moments in the game are the ones where he’s interacting with Clementine. You really get invested in their relationship and it’s really touching and moving to watch Lee do just about anything for this little girl he only happened to have just met by chance. Lee really cared for Clementine like she was his own daughter. How his story ends still shatters my soft, squishy heart even as I think about it.