4 Times NPCs Were Unexpectedly Thankful

With Thanksgiving upon us, I started thinking about how NPCs in video games rarely really thank the playable character for things that they do. It always feels scripted, forced, or perfunctory. But no, there had to be someone who was truly and unexpectedly grateful for the things that you do for them. And there are, because, as we all know by now, NPCs are secretly real. So here’s the short list of video game characters who were unexpectedly grateful for your actions (or, once, the actions of others).

4. The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The Boss is a talented and fierce warrior, and a motherly figure to Snake/Big Boss, but no one seems to truly know anything about her. She keeps her personal life tightly locked away behind strict military training and a grim expression, but The Boss is still human. At the end of the game, she opens up to Snake about her past and tells him about the child that was stolen from her by the Patriots. After she finishes her monologue, The Boss cracks a shy smile. “I’ve never talked about myself this much before.” She looks away, touched and almost embarrassed. “Thanks… Thanks for listening to me. I feel… content.”

the-boss

You can never know how thankful a person will be for you truly taking the time to listen to them.

4. Midna from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

I originally was going to talk about Midna’s final moments in Hyrule, with her comments that she seemed intent to make sound off-handed, but a pivitol moment in Midna’s character development is after Zelda chooses to sacrifice herself in order to save Midna. Midna, the usurped princess of Twilight, had, up until that point, been flippant toward Zelda and concerned only for her triumphant return to her kingdom. But with her dying breath, she beseeches Zelda to tell them how to rescue Link from his curse so he can save Hyrule. After a lengthy conversation, Zelda eventually passes her life force on to Midna in order to save her life. Midna is shocked, touched, and motivated to now save Hyrule, regardless of whether she is ever able to return to the Twilight.

“Zelda…” she murmurs to the empty room in Hyrule castle. “I’ve taken all that you have to give… though I did not want it.” While Midna never exactly says the words “thank you,” her gratitude at the second chance is evident as she begins to truly act in Zelda’s stead, defeating Zant/Ganondorf once and for all and freeing both Light and Twilight Realms.

midna-and-link

You can never know how thankful a person will be for a second chance.

2. Jack from Mass Effect 2

Jack’s the “psychotic biotic” of the crew, and she can be absolutely abraisive. She’s a convicted criminal, charged with murder and kidnapping, among others. She challenged Shepard to become a pirate, and comes across as ungrateful toward every nice – or even polite – gesture Shepard makes toward her. When Shepard takes a genuine interest in learning more about the enigmatic woman, she is met with a slew of insults. But as Shepard finishes the conversation and prepares to leave, Jack drops this on you:

“Hey, Shepard, no one’s ever asked me about this sh-t. It’s strange to talk about. So f-ck you.” Her tone changes as she adds, “…and thanks for asking.”

jack

You can never know how thankful someone will be when you don’t let them push you away.

And my number one unexpected instance of gratitude goes to:

1.Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins

Honestly Morrigan gets the top spot because the first time I played Origins and gifted the gilded mirror to Morrigan (one of her “special gifts”), I expected the perfunctory gratitude of an NPC, followed by the necessary snark from Morrigan. But that didn’t happen. Instead, after being assured it truly is a gift, given freely, she says this:

“I have… never received a gift, not one which did not come at a price.” Her voice wavers in an uncharacteristic way, and she sounds unsure. “I suppose I should say thank you… for the gift. ‘Tis most thoughtful. Truly…”

Dragon Age™: Inquisition_20150220084311

This is why Morrigan takes my top spot. She has no experience with friendship, love, or any semblance of true, kind, human connection. She is unsure what to say and her words come off as stilted, but she gives up the swaggering, brash tone of the Witch of the Wilds in favor of the stammering, uncertain, and tentative gratitude of someone who is only beginning to think that there are people worth trusting in the world.

Because sometimes, it’s not the most eloquent or grandest expression of thanks that is the most true.

What do you think? What other times have video game characters been unexpectedly grateful?

Happy Thanksgiving, and see you soon!
~Athena

PS I didn’t intentionally leave out male characters, but I honestly couldn’t think of any instances where male NPCs were as surprisingly thankful as their females counterparts (and THAT could be a whole post by itself…). But if you know of any, let me know in the comments!


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13 comments

    1. Thanks! Yeah this is a topic that kind of snuck up on me, as well. I was talking to a friend about why I like Morrigan so much, and that scene came up. It got me thinking why it “mattered” to me… I think gratitude in general is something that we don’t always notice, because we’ve been so hardwired to say “thanks” (which isn’t a bad thing!), but I guess when we stop and think about it, gratitude is a very profound kind of interaction with someone else… hm… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. At the end of Mass Effect 3, before his death (Spoilers? Sorry.) Captain Anderson expresses to you (Commander Shepard) feelings of gratitude like none other. It’s so incredibly touching in an otherwise tense and terrible moment.

    Your inclusion of Midna here is really perfectly. I was remarkably touched by her story, and seeing her transformation at the end of the game nearly brought me to tears. After seeing her be so standoffish and, at times, rude to Link throughout his adventures, her turnaround in gratitude was a little shocking, but it was also very welcome and happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (gasp!) You’re right! I don’t know how I forgot about Admiral Anderson!!! You’re SO right; that’s such a wonderfully touching and heartbreaking moment, and, while I didn’t exactly find it “unexpected” (its inclusion, I mean), Anderson definitely went above and beyond what I expected a CO to say. It/he created an incredibly powerful moment.

      And thank you! Midna’s character arc is one of my favorites from the Zelda series, because her complexity is just so well conceived and executed. Her journey from snarky imp to transformed (mentally and physically) hero had me rooting for her by the end, and I was heartbroken when she left Hyrule and destroyed the Mirror of Twilight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to skip over ME 2 because I’m currently watching a Let’s Play of it, but I’ll definitely have to come back when I finish! What a unique post. Hm, I’m trying to think of any over grateful or just grateful NPCs, and I’m coming up blank. They usually just give you your reward and go on with their day. Wait…in Final Fantasy IX if you choose to save a Burecian soldier during the Alexandrian raid, later on, you meet him again with his family in Lindblum, and both him and his wife are utterly grateful that you allowed him to continue living. I’m probably fudging the details of this a bit since it’s been a while since I played FFIX, but I remember the gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s another good example. I’m embarrassingly not up on my Final Fantasy games, but from what I do know they are wonderful stories with great characters. And apparently, ones who show appreciation, as well! It’s nice when characters really respond to the things you do, especially if you do something exemplary. By making these kinds of relationship real, it makes the whole experience that much more realistic, as well.

      Like

  3. *gruff voice* “Men can’t be grateful! The only way a man should ever say ‘thank you’ is with a too-hard slap on the shoulder!”
    It’s interesting to think about, from a storytelling perspective, what a game character would need to do in order to express genuine gratitude. Not something that’s ever crossed my mind before, but very compelling.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I stand corrected, then! haha

      Yeah, this actually came from a conversation I had with my friend about Morrigan, and we sat thinking for a good long time about characters that really, truly seemed grateful. It seems strangely lacking in games, especially if the games you play are predominantly RPGs! If you think of any more, let me know!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Definitely yes to Morrigan! After I killed Flemeth for her, I was shocked when she said she considered my Grey Warden a sister. She was raised in isolation for a purpose, so it makes compete sense that she wouldn’t understand the friend concept. The Alistair Voodoo Doll is probably my favourite gift for her, haha.

    I would also have to say Princess Ruto from Ocarina of Time. She is so spoiled and entitled, even making Link carry her through Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. After you beat the dungeon, and rescue her, she is surprisingly appreciative and willingly gives Link Zora’s Sapphire (though that comes back to bite him as an adult… tee hee)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The look on Link’s face when she tells him in the Water Temple later is hilarious!! Good thing she’s the Water Sage and doesn’t have time for the marriage thing, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

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