The concept of the "silent protagonist" can be divisive. Some argue that the protagonist is silent in order to serve as an extension of the player. Others believe they are mute to better characterize those who join him or her on the adventure. Others still look at the silent protagonist as a simple means to an end for the story. Most don't really have an opinion either way, and just want to play a great game. Oh, and of course some people just think the silent protagonist is a dumb concept (you can stop reading now if this is you). Silent protagonists can often be found in the RPG genre. I love RPGs for many reasons, but one that resonates very strongly for me (and many others) is how these works of fiction have storylines, settings, and characters that allude to the people and places in the real world. Such are the inspirations for this list.

I have chosen to focus on silent protagonists from standard RPGs only. I can't tell you how badly I wanted to represent my boy Alundra on this list (hey, I'm doing that right now). Sorry Link. Sorry guy from GTA III. Sorry Jak. Sorry Gordon. Oh, and sorry Fire Emblem.

So for the sake of my list, what do I consider a silent protagonist? I am glad you're still reading because it may prevent certain arguments from being raised. So I'll spell it out in simple, bullet form:

-Rule 1: A silent protagonist may respond to a question, in which you (the player) must select one out of two or more "answer" options in a textbox, which serves as the protagonist's response:
Example 1:
NPC:
Will you please deliver this package to the innkeeper?
Protagonist: ...
-Yes
-No
Example 2:
NPC:
So? What do you think of my outfit?
Protagonist: ...
-You look amazing!
-It looks like you threw up on yourself.
-Your outfit doesn't concern me.

-Rule 2: A silent protagonist may suddenly have a line or three. This extremely rare occurrence might come as a surprise to you. You may not have even noticed that the person who just spoke was the protagonist.

-Rule 3: Someone may respond to a silent protagonist's "implied" words, as if he/she said something, when the protagonist didn't actually have a textbox showing what they said. Example: "Hey, what are you doing here? .......Oh, I see. So your friend went missing. I'm sorry, but they are not here."

-Rule 4: "Influence of choice" protagonists are disqualified. What I mean by this is if the main storyline and subplots are seriously impacted by frequent decisions the protagonist (often a player-created avatar) makes as selected by you, the player, then they will not be on this list. Fallout and Elder Scrolls are two popular ones, though there are others.

-Rule 5: Grunts, groans, pants (the noises that come out of the mouth, not the kind that you wear), and more. Any battle outcries (ie., "Explode!" or "Take that!" or "Hi-YA!") do NOT disqualify a protagonist from this list. This is not based on battle lines.

-Rule 6: Does this protagonist make you laugh? Cry? Get angry? Ask questions? Can you, in some small way, relate to this character? These are qualities that made so many good contenders for this list... and disqualified many others.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of rules.

SPOILERS FOR SOME GREAT RPGS FOLLOW

Wilt thou change this world... Or wilt thou change thyself? Wilt thou live on with thy mother planet... Or wilt thou turn thy back on the planet and treat another path?

In your lifetime, have things ever spun out of control in the blink of an eye? Has something ever happened to you that you never would have imagined? It happens to all of us to some degree. Whatever the situation, that complete lack of control creates a feeling that is too intense and overwhelming to describe; a harsh feeling that what's done is done, and that nothing you can do will change it. It is horrible, and Serge experiences it throughout his journey in Chrono Cross.

Our time with Serge begins with his mom waking him up. Serge meets up with his friend Leena at the beach. They start to reminisce about growing up in their small village of Arni, when Serge suddenly hears a voice calling his name. Before long, Serge passes out. When he wakes up, Leena is gone and the entire world he knows is completely changed.

What is going on? Did Leena spontaneously combust? He returns to Arni and finds Leena alive and well, but she doesn't recognize him. In fact, nobody in Arni recognizes Serge anymore! What's worse, the people of Arni are telling Serge that a boy of the same name died ten years ago. This is confirmed when Serge sees his own gravestone. Hopeless and alone, Serge doesn't get a chance to gather his senses when a group of knights try to take him away. Thankfully, a mysterious girl named "Kid" comes to his rescue and they are able to fend off the kidnappers.

Thus, Serge's adventure truly begins. If you've played Chrono Cross, then you know all too well that Serge getting thrown into Another World and hearing that he's been dead for ten years is only the beginning of something much greater. Would you believe me if I told you he's the center of the universe? He sure doesn't act like it. He could completely dismantle the space-time continuum if he wanted to, given the proper tools. He also finds out later that the person who killed his "other" self as a child was none other than his father. And, as if the poor kid isn't dealing with enough, an evil demi-human named Lynx has plans to disrupt time and space by using Serge as his catalyst. Lynx is so evil, in fact, that he switches bodies with Serge to make things easier for his evil scheme but nearly impossible for Serge. After this switch, Serge witnesses Lynx, in his body, murder the girl who saved him earlier in the story.

So, Serge can't catch a break. His fate was set before he was even born, and he loses everything he cherishes, including his own body. Can't a guy just hang out with his girlfriend at the beach? In the midst of this sadness and confusion, Serge becomes very special to the player. Since he is capable of convincing over 40 people to join his cause, he must be doing something right. He saves the necks of people in places high and low, all the while confused as all get-out as to what his purpose in life is. When Serge finally succeeds in Chrono Cross, you might be scratching your head during the confusing ending. But one thing is for sure: you will be proud of Serge. I'm sure Schala would be, too.

Wow! You're THE Mario? I know all about you! You've got more JUMP in you than a box of frogs!

Well duh, of course! Being Mario is reason enough, but Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is filled with so much satire and whimsy that if none of it was related to Mario at all, the main character would still be a strong contender to be listed here. Not only is it fitting for Mario to poke fun at RPGs, and silent protagonists in particular, but it is justified. Mario RPG is an outstanding game in its own right. Leave it to the joined forces of Nintendo and Square to create something so refreshing and hilarious.

But how does Mario actually work as a silent protagonist in an RPG? Well, first of all he has all of the typical Mario attributes. He jumps a lot, mostly on top of or over things. This tends to cause him some trouble, particularly in a bakery setting. It also can confirm his identity (because the outfit and mustache don't give it away) to the Mushroom Kingdom residents who idolize him.

Mario's reactions to others' comments are also amusing. He is surrounded by quirky, comical characters of all shapes and sizes, so Mario uses his design as a cartoon character to really express to the player how he feels based on what's going on around him. "Statue" Mario is quite a treat whether you're successful at it or not, for example. At another point in the beginning, Mario is asked to catch up the Toads on what has been going on with Princess Toadstool and Bowser. Not one to fail his role as a silent protagonist, Mario busts some moves, falls off the screen, and even transforms into other characters to bring everyone up to speed - all without uttering a sound!

The proof in the pudding comes when Bowser, now a strong ally in Mario's cause, considers leaving the group. After some convincing amongst those who do speak, Mario gives Bowser a pat on the shoulder! If a supportive shoulder pat for his arch-nemesis doesn't make Mario a great silent protagonist, then nothing does. Bowser certainly appreciates it, and I know the players do, too. Good old Mario. What a guy!

Let's be positive!

In most settings - your job, your school, social events - someone either officially or unofficially takes the role of a leader - maybe you, maybe someone else. But the title of "leader" doesn't automatically denote responsible leader. We've all had incompetent bosses and teachers, right? They may know their job, but they don't have the people skills to manage those below them. Groups will fail without fervent, positive leaders. While many of the characters you see on this list are forced into their leadership roles, Maya is a natural leader and takes the position with confidence. And she is a good leader, unlike her boss at her magazine's publication office. Maya knows how to listen to her followers and take their advice, and she works hard to make sure everyone is on the right track. Best of all, she does it with a smile on her face.

Maya appeared in two consecutive games. In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, she joined Tatsuya on his mission. With Tatsuya, Maya was the opposite of a silent protagonist. In fact, she was one of the most chatty, outspoken group members. She had an optimistic outlook on life, and at times it was a little beyond the reality of Innocent Sin's dark storyline. Sadly, at the end of their journey, Maya is fatally stabbed. She passes away with a smile on her face after cracking a heart wrenching inside joke as her friends helplessly watch. But thanks to Tatsuya, Innocent Sin ends with Maya coming back to life at the expense of her and her comrades' memories of each other. Oh, and the world is made safe again.

In Eternal Punishment, Maya's silence will come as a surprise. Still, you can feel her positive attitude emanate from her actions and the different responses you can choose when she must make a decision. Although she doesn't remember anything from Innocent Sin, she learns of the events that took place in it. By the time Tatsuya is able to explain what happened on the "Other Side" in Innocent Sin, she understands that she played a critical role in the group, and how things would have fallen apart without her. Even now, with Tatsuya's horrible memories intact while his friends' are spared, Maya's support is the reason he is able to tear down his emotional walls and bring everything to light.

Early on in Eternal Punishment, her role as a natural leader reaches its fruition. Her new group in this story undergoes hardships that test their wits and emotions just as her previous group did, and no matter what she makes it her goal to help the team arrive at a solution. She gets scared, she gets hurt, and she gets angry, just like anyone would. The difference in Maya is that she doesn't let these emotions stop her; she does her best to carry this burden on behalf of her peers.

Perhaps it is not what happens within the events of Persona 2 that connects us so strongly with Maya, but rather the characteristics that make her a "normal" person. She has professional goals for when she finishes school and enters adulthood. At the beginning of Eternal Punishment, we find that she is overworked and underappreciated with the amount of time she devotes to her school's publication. Maya does not experience the typical "character development" we expect from our protagonists, largely because she is so mature and responsible to begin with. Rather, her development comes from the connections she builds with the people around her. This is proven upon the game's deceptively beautiful ending in a brief exchange between Maya and a rookie reporter we met in the game's opening. He tells her something all aspiring leaders wish to hear: someday, he wants to become a respected and accomplished reporter, just like Maya. She smiles at him, gives him a supportive pat on the shoulder, and heads to her annoying boss's office for a meeting.

Grrr! I feel ill! I'm going to spew! Why must I, the most powerful Evil King on earth, be subject to such ridicule?! You, slave, say something!

The other day, my Uber driver went on and on about the New England Patriots, and why they were his favorite team in the NFL. I had no idea what he was talking about, and was flabbergasted with how much he knew about every player, their history, their stats, their social security numbers, their moms' maiden names, and everything else related to the team. I would have liked to talk his ear off about Chrono Trigger and why I like to have Robo and Lucca in my fight against Lavos, but he would have had no idea what that is - and surely wouldn't have been as open to listening to me rant about it. Everyone watches football! But Chrono Trigger? What the heck is that? Weirdo...

I digress. I'm going to speak for a lot of us when I say this: gamers like us, we don't really "fit in" all that well. I'm not talking about the "gamer" who buys Call of Duty once a year. I'm talking about you and I, the people who actually know what an RPG is. My point here is that Ari, from the hilarious Okage: Shadow King, doesn't fit in. Ari is "weird," kind of like a lot of us (or, ahem, me). He doesn't go on and on about his life to strangers, but they will happily talk his ear off - and he lets them, because he just kind of... stands there. People ask him questions a lot, but the answers they expect are more for their own benefit and in no way help Ari. In the rare instance when a character learns a little tidbit about Ari, they ignore it, or (in so many words) tell him he's, well, weird. And they're right, because often times the choices you can select for Ari's response aren't usually what an average person would say. Hence, the "normal" people don't typically acknowledge Ari after they've met him. That said, Ari's journey is difficult since nobody really pays attention to him. His name isn't even in the Classification books held at his townhall! Ari is always overshadowed by those with talents, eccentricities, good looks, social skills... you name it, Ari don't got it!

And when I say "overshadowed," I mean it literally too. See, Ari is enslaved by an evil king named Stan, and his shadow has been replaced by Stan himself. Evil King Stan needs a slave to help him defeat other evil kings and reach his goal of world domination, and Ari picked the short straw. Now, Ari must go on an adventure, with Stan popping up behind him as his shadow at every turn to shout demands at his slave and bicker with the locals. Stan will go on and on about his interests in becoming more powerful and Ari will just kind of stand there and deal with it. People think Stan popping up and yelling is a weird - but pretty neat - trick that Ari has, much to Stan's chagrin. Perhaps if Stan had a cooler slave instead of this oddball, people would fear him instead of laugh at him. Some of these people eventually join Ari, but they mainly join him because of Stan--to learn more about him, to eventually face off against him, or maybe even because they admire him! But Ari? They don't pay much attention to him. Well, there is one exception: Princess Marlene joins Ari so he can be her servant - making Ari both a slave to Stan, and a servant to Marlene.

Other than serving Stan and Marlene's personal interests, Ari might as well not even be there at all. Sadly, this "invisible man" syndrome turns literal towards the latter half of the game. All of a sudden, people can't see or hear Ari--not his party members, not his family, not even Stan! It is as if he never existed, and the world has been completely changed. Panicked, Ari travels far and wide to find someone who can see him. After working through some self-confidence issues, Ari is able to come back and the world returns to its previous state--the party members rejoin him, and he soon learns why he is so overshadowed. The fact is, Ari really shouldn't exist. But because he does, he is disrupting the plans of the world's creator, Beiloune. Every single person, even Stan, has a Classification according to Beiloune; a role to play in this world... except for Ari, who shouldn't be here in the first place. Beiloune simply wants a nice world, in his image, for him and Marlene, his daughter, to enjoy.

Of course, Ari and company won't stand for this. They are able to defeat Beiloune and remove any "Classifications" that were originally forced upon them. Ari's party members leave him alone shortly thereafter, and without any Classification to begin with, Ari returns to his old life as normal with his family. However, there is one small difference... Marlene is waiting for him at home with his mom, and they are ready and willing to cook him dinner. Oh, and even Stan starts to miss Ari! He can't stay away from him for too long, because who else is going to torment the poor kid!

Nice to meet you, Dad.

Is your father an important part of your life? If so, I suggest sitting down with him at some point and asking him about his life story up until the day you were brought into the picture. Chances are, his father will play a big role in his story as well.

The Hero in Dragon Quest V is an unusual case in that we follow him throughout his life. As you may know, the man stays busy, and not by choice. As you may also know, the poor fellow loses a lot of valuable years because of the hardships he must endure (roughly 18 years total, give or take). The Hero's journey begins as a dream--that he was born to a king and queen, and that he is a rightful heir to his throne. When he wakes up, his father assures him that it was nothing but a dream, since after his mother's passing father and son have been leading a life of adventure. The Hero, only a child at this point, knows no better than to believe his father.

Eventually, the Hero learns that his father was misleading him, though it was all in the Hero's best interest. His mother had been alive all this time, and their travelling had actually been the means to find her. At one point, his father is killed and the Hero is sold into slavery. Ten years pass after this tragedy, ten years of slavery as a child, and the Hero finally is able to break free from the slavers. More adventures ensue, and his tragic past serves as inspiration rather than as a detriment for a bright future. As you play through Dragon Quest V it is easy to tell how much of a people-person the Hero is. Folks are simply drawn to him and take an instant liking. Upon reaching his home town after years of absence, his uncle willingly relinquishes his title as king to give it to the Hero, who is the rightful king. In addition, our Hero eventually undergoes the two greatest adventures of all: marriage and parenthood!

Since the Hero also happens to be the one chosen to vanquish the evil of the world, being married with children comes with some unusual setbacks. Right after becoming parents, the Hero and his wife are both turned to stone. Another eight years of this man's life are lost in a petrified slumber, along with his wife's. They miss out on the first eight years of their children's lives after they are sold at an auction as decorative statues. Once the children finally find their dad, he willingly takes them along on his adventure, as his father did with him, in order to find his wife and their mother.

Long story short, the Hero's wife is found, and the adorable family of four decide to adventure together. The goal of finding the Hero's mother is finally reached at long last, and it turns out she has become a protector of the planet, though her power has weakened. The reunion is cut short as his mother passes away, however the Hero and his family are able to finish what she started and bring peace back to the world.

The commendable duality of the Hero being both a family man and a strong warrior is most likely attributed to his father. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, and the player is given the privilege to witness the Hero develop in a much different light from all the other heroes in the Dragon Quest series. By the time his entire party is formed, you realize his party is actually his family. The Hero is the leader of his game of course, but he is also the glue that makes his family so strong together.

If they could have destroyed us all in an instant, why didn't they kill us?

Despite taking place in such a fantastical setting, Ryu's personal journey is surprisingly allusive to the real world. A grand scheme to wipe out an entire race for some sadistic cause is something we unfortunately read about in our textbooks and daily news. History shows that people with power are capable of manipulating the commoners below them by instilling fear and a sense of danger against their targeted community. Breath of Fire III encapsulates this notion in its beautifully told fantasy tale.

Ryu's journey begins with him waking up as a baby dragon in a mine deep underground. When the miners find a living dragon, they panic and try to kill him. Being a dragon (baby or otherwise), Ryu's self-defense easily wipes out anyone in his way. In a brief moment of distraction, the miners take advantage of an opening in Ryu's defenses and tranquilize the dragon. When he comes to, he finds himself in a cage on a moving train. Destination unknown, Ryu breaks out of the cage and eventually is found in his human form by a kind stranger who takes him in.

Ryu's adventure is wrought with self-discovery and family history. Throughout much of the game, he seems to have a target on his back for being a dragon. But who is Ryu, really? This desire to know his ancestry and purpose is what keeps him going. Paired with a naive kindness (and adorable cluelessness), his motivation is also what brings many others along with him to uncover these truths. Eventually, Ryu meets Garr, who has made it his sole purpose to eradicate dragons. When the confrontation finally happens between the two, Ryu easily wipes Garr out. Ryu has a chance to finish him off, but refuses, transforms into his most powerful dragon form yet, and flies away in a confused panic.

Years pass, and after reuniting with his friends as an adult, Ryu learns more and more about his ancestors. Dragons like Ryu were once a prominent and great race. They had the power to cause massive destruction, but they never had any intention to use this power and were actually very peaceful. Yet an ill-intentioned god named Myria rewrote history in order to ensure that all dragons were exterminated, claiming that people like Ryu were dangerous to the greater good and, perhaps worst of all, believing that she was doing the right thing. Centuries later, Ryu is one of the few survivors. Sadly, at one point he is left with no choice but to kill one of his own kind--one who has succumbed to the influence of Myria. It is heartbreaking to learn that the gentle Ryu is the last among a peaceful race that was wiped out and forgotten, and then to witness him reluctantly kill one of his few remaining brethren.

Like the Indian Removal Act, the African Slave Trade, or the Holocaust, Ryu's journey brings the many catastrophes of race in the real world into a poignantly woven fantasy story. And just like Osceola, Harriet Tubman, or Elie Wiesel, Ryu shows us the powerful messages that one single person can make for an entire people.

It is because of you, Rudy, that we were able to believe in the future. Please don't think that you don't belong to this world... We need you in this world...

Rudy Roughknight embodies the feeling of loneliness. If you have ever been rejected or ostracized for being different than the mass majority, then you will empathize with Rudy very early on in Wild Arms. Even through his simple sprite-based character model, you can see and feel this young man's loneliness.

We are introduced to Rudy as a "drifter" who has found a new home in Surf Village. As the world of Filgaia has been slowly dying, Surf Village serves as a microcosmic example of this fate. Rudy arrives as a small relief for the townspeople, since he has been willing and able to lend a helping hand in maintaining its grounds. His quiet nature and strong work ethic have helped him make a name for himself in Surf Village, and the modest lifestyle fits him well.

It is hard to forget the Berry Cave. It functions as an introduction to Wild Arms, but the final outcome of this "beginner's level" is so unexpected and painful that its generic name serves as a ploy. Despite this unassuming name, the Berry Cave is actually quite dangerous, since it houses violent monsters and an unstable foundation. When word reaches town that a child wandered into the Berry Cave, Rudy is the first to rush over to get him out. Rudy finally finds the child, but they are both attacked by the biggest monster in the cave. Rudy defeats it with his ARMs, which is an extremely rare ability that allows him to synchronize his body with deadly weapons. During the battle, the citizens of Surf Village were able to catch up to Rudy and witness this power when he defeats the beast. After Rudy rescues this boy from certain death, the villagers thank him by essentially calling him a freak. They return to Surf Village and unanimously decide to kick him out. Without argument, Rudy leaves the people who initially welcomed him.

This is only one small piece of Rudy's sadness. As you play through the game, you find out he is made up of similar physical characteristics as the terrifying Metal Demons that threaten Filgaia. His species is by and large extinct, but Rudy was adopted by a man who raised him as a human. Shortly after the Berry Cave, Rudy meets Cecilia and Jack, who seek Rudy's aid in vanquishing monsters in a nearby tomb. As this small mission turns greater and greater, Cecilia and Jack begin to look at Rudy as a loyal friend with no regard to where he comes from or the powers he holds. Through actions rather than words, Rudy inspires both of his allies to further discover the history of Filgaia, and the team work together to bring the dying world back to life. In his travels, Rudy learns what it means to have people in his life who truly care about him. All the while, he becomes the people's sole example for the importance of saving and preserving the planet that has been destroyed.

In the end, Rudy and company are successful in their mission to save Filgaia, and our final moments with Rudy show him doing what he's come to realize is his purpose: travelling the world with his friends--only this time it's different. Once a dead world that rejected him, Rudy now travels a Filgaia that is flourishing because of him.

You dummy! You wouldn't believe what we had to go through for you!

I have a very close friend, let's just say his name is Stu. Stu doesn't talk much, and when the gang gets together he is usually a wallflower. One time, it must have been 1:00 in the morning, I realized that I'd lost my keys. I felt helpless, but Stu offered to drive me home and helped me look around for the lost keys. We searched for over an hour that night. It was rough, but I'm glad Stu stuck with me the whole time. Stu went out of his way to help me. He's so quiet that I sometimes feel we all take his amazing friendship for granted. I can't imagine what we would do without our dear friend, Stu. I just hope he knows how much we all care about him. Similar to Stu, Crono, despite being so quiet, is quite the social butterfly. As you play through the renowned Chrono Trigger, six people eventually follow Crono wherever he goes. Chances are you already know why Crono is so special.

Our time with Crono begins with his mom waking him up (is that written elsewhere on this list? Anyway...). The Millennial Fair has finally arrived, and Crono had been planning on checking it out. His cat follows him to the front door of his home before longingly watching Crono run towards the Fair to a fate that challenges time and space itself. Crono himself doesn't have any special, preordained "destiny." He's an ordinary kid who stumbles into this dangerous adventure. He bumps into a strange girl named Marle and the two of them take part in an experiment created by his close friend, Lucca. This experiment goes horribly wrong, and Crono and Marle find themselves sent back in time hundreds of years. This is the beginning of Crono's mission to stop Lavos, a gargantuan parasite that idly sucks the planet dry. He doesn't have to take this mission on, but he does so without asking any questions or getting scared. Past, present and future depend on Crono, and in these time periods he will motivate many other people who also realize the high stakes. When he finally confronts Lavos with his friends, he is killed and lost in time. But never forgotten.

See, Crono is the type of friend a lot of us have in our real lives--the kind whom we don't truly appreciate until they are not there. You understand how special Crono is once you don't have him with you, and thus your first goal after losing Crono is to get him back. His friends search high and low for a solution to bring Crono back, and when they are finally successful, their reunion is full of joyful tears and embraces. Recovering Crono is not required and you can defeat Lavos without him by your side, but it will not feel right if you choose to do it this way.

On top of saving the world and its history, Crono is a pretty cool guy in general. He can chug a beer like no other (jealous!), is pretty creative with his white-guy dance moves, and he is a natural with the sword. I think I'd be Crono's friend--wouldn't you? One not-so-cool thing about Crono is that he never feeds his cat, which he may regret in the final moments of the game.

You and I were a lot alike..... We were both aiming for the same thing, but I just...

It is unbelievable how our trajectories can change in the blink of an eye from the actions taken by those around us. Loss, betrayal, even small disagreements can have life changing repercussions. If anyone could preach about this, Riou would be an excellent choice. Adopted at a young age with his orphaned sister Nanami, the struggles Riou endures throughout Suikoden II - and the ways in which he handles them - are what make him such an admirable hero. Most people wouldn't be up to the tasks that Riou must face, but he does so with patience and dignity. Raised poor, Riou and Nanami were targeted from a very early age. One day, a boy named Jowy, raised in an affluent household, stood up for Riou when he was getting bullied, and since then Riou and Jowy were inseparable friends.

Challenge after challenge hits Riou. In the very beginning of the game, a man he looks up to betrays him, resulting in Riou and Jowy witnessing the brutality of the Highland Army's leader, Luca Blight, as their friends are slaughtered. Riou and Jowy manage to barely escape. From then on, Riou must quickly mature. He is wrongfully imprisoned, convinces dozens of warriors to join him, and somehow comes between various allied kingdoms lead by some very incompetent rulers. All the while, Riou often finds himself arriving at the remains of one of Luca Blight's massacres, too late to save anyone.

The challenges don't end there for Riou, as things soon get personal. Jowy, whom he has been with since childhood, suddenly turns on him midway through the journey, takes Luca Blight's side, and even marries Luca's sister in order to rule Highland (crediting this betrayal to "destiny"). After Jowy's initial betrayal, Nanami and Riou are at a loss and consider giving up on the war to follow a secluded life. Ever the realist, Riou understands that such a life would be impossible, since Luca Blight's ruthlessness would find them eventually. Though Riou is eventually able to defeat Luca Blight by gallantly commanding armies against his forces, the war is still not over as long as Jowy rules Highland.

When the tense confrontation between the two former friends finally ensues, it is interrupted by a third party's foolish attempt to thwart both Riou and Jowy's causes. In the confusion, Nanami is fatally shot with an arrow. Jowy vacates the premises during the chaos, while Riou is left to hold his dying sister in his arms. By the end of the game, the two friends must fulfill their fates and face off against one another... or so Jowy believes. But Riou? As you'd expect, he wants to take the high road. Such resolve is what ultimately brings Riou and his empire to peace, and may even show Jowy the error in his ways.

Suikoden II is an arduous, emotional game. It is impossible not to understand how Riou is an ideal rags to riches story. Abandoned as a baby, he should have died before being able to crawl. Ambushed in the middle of the night, he never should have survived that first encounter with Luca Blight--let alone his jump off a cliff in his escape. Thrown in jail, he never would have imagined commanding armies and becoming a diplomat. Abandoned by his most trusted friend, he could have easily given up on his quest for unity. But Riou endured. He pushed forward with grit, resourcefulness, discretion, intellect, and fervor. He made countless friends and allies along the way, and entire nations turned to him as their last hope for peace. Most of us do not need to unify countries, but we all face hardships like Riou, and in turn we are all capable of turning those hardships into victories. Riou is an extreme example of turning catastrophe into an earth-shattering achievement. Beginning at the lowest low, he ends on the highest high.

Everyone is waiting for you, Lucas. Waiting to throw rocks at you, spit on you, and make your life Hell. Who's 'everyone'? ...everyone you love.

What is your favorite thing? If your answer is Love, then you cannot be more correct.

I don't usually self-disclose on GameFAQs, but I want to express why Lucas is so special to me, and I'm sure, to many of you. I was a shy kid. I didn't talk much, and for most of my childhood I didn't have a lot of friends. I was always picked last at neighborhood baseball games. I was pretty good at sports but no one recognized that because I was so quiet. I've missed out on big opportunities because my introverted and humble nature wasn't as loud as the person next to me. I don't like to brag about myself, I don't want people to notice me everywhere I go, and I showcase humility. Above all, I am caring. Helping people is my passion. As a male, this sensitivity is often looked down upon. Men are not supposed to be sensitive; they are supposed to be loud, proud, and tough. This entry is not for the "golden child" or the "all-star." It is for anyone who understands the value and prominence of introversion, whether they fall into the category or not.

Lucas, our hero in Mother 3, deals with this "advice" on "how to be a man" throughout much of his story. Adults and children alike constantly point out how often he cries, how he should be stronger, how he should be more like his brother Claus. And yes, he begins his adventure as a timid crybaby. But he concludes his adventure as a sensitive hero. In the beginning chapters, we find that Lucas's family is very close-knit, and they enjoy their peaceful life in their small town of Tazmily Village. Lucas is quiet, gentle, and loves nothing more than his family, his dog Boney, and his hometown. He has a twin brother, Claus, who is much more talkative and adventurous, and is also very protective of his family, especially his more vulnerable twin.

A family tragedy changes Lucas's life forever. The forest near his home is burned down by a mysterious group of people wearing pig masks. The pig masks also take control of the animals in the area, turning them into fighting chimeras. In the mayhem, Lucas's mother is killed. Obviously, this event changes the family forever. Lucas goes into a deep depression and cannot be dragged away from his mother's grave. Claus, on the other hand, turns angry. He gets so angry, in fact, that he runs away to get his revenge on the people who killed his mother. Most of our time with the opening chapters of Mother 3 focuses on Lucas's father, and by the time Lucas becomes the official protagonist, a few years have passed. Claus's whereabouts are unknown and he has probably been dead this whole time, while Lucas has learned how to control powerful psychic abilities. Sadly, Lucas has been getting used to growing up with his unspeakable bonds to his mother and twin severed.

In the years since the tragedy, the evil pigmasks have taken over, and for some reason they confuse Lucas with their coldblooded leader, the elusive "Masked Man." Lucas learns that he alone must pull the Seven Needles from the ground, which will awaken a dragon that will either restore or destroy the world. This becomes his sole purpose, though the Masked Man will be after the needles as well, as ordered by none other than Porky, from Earthbound. When Lucas finally has to pull the Seventh Needle, he finds out that the evil Masked Man was none other than his long-lost twin, Claus. Lucas has no choice but to face off against his soulless brother, who he learns was taken in and altered by the pigmasks into a killing machine when he went missing years ago. After a heart wrenching battle, Lucas refuses to inflict any more pain to Claus, and after some ephemeral words from their passed mother, Lucas witnesses his twin brother electrocute himself to death to escape the pain once and for all. Lucas is unable to mourn for long, as he must pull the final Needle and awaken the dragon. He is successful, and Lucas's world is returned to its natural state.

A crybaby is able to accomplish all this? We love Lucas because he is like so many kids out there who don't get the recognition they deserve. The world is a hard place for introverts like Lucas--kids who don't like to brag, who want to do good things without needing anything in return. In fact, Lucas won't even take the credit for saving the world, and instead gives credit to you, the player. Lucas is a kid who, despite all he sees and does, never grows up too much by the end of his story. He turns from a crybaby into a hero, but his reticent demeanor and quiet love for his family, friends and community never change one bit. I think many people love Lucas so much because they see a lot of themselves in him--a small, quiet kid with huge, resounding potential.

Special thanks to Crazyguy105 and Croc425 from the Persona 5 board! Your ideas were very helpful!

I can't tell you how long I spent on this list. I played and replayed some games, and watched video walkthroughs for others. What a joy to share these amazing games and heroes with all of you! One thing all these silent protagonists have in common: they are genuinely good people. While fictional, they are all the types of people we can admire and strive to be like.

I need to list some honorable mentions, too:
Yu Narukami - Persona 4
For being so cool, he gets to talk on his own TV show!
Chocobo - Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon Wii
For being iconic and, well, so darn cute!
Ryu - Breath of Fire IV
For being the "better half."
Demi-Fiend - Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
For representing that ominous "blank slate" in all of us.
Vahn - Legend of Legaia
For his badass one-two combos... and fire!
Mouse - Ephemeral Fantasia
For swooning you with his mesmerizing music.
Isaac - Golden Sun
For holding the rock-skipping record (he does it with his mind!).
Adol - Ys
For breaking hearts, wrecking ships, and beating bad guys (over and over and over).
Ness - Earthbound
For getting payback on an annoying neighbor.
Serph - Digital Devil Saga
For alluding that an AI world takeover could actually be great!
Frisk - Undertale
For pacifism.
Pokemon Trainer - Pokemon
For catching 'em all.
The Prince - Suikoden V
For leading the Loyalist Army

Thanks everyone!

Peace,
Iga


List by Archmonk Iga
(03/03/2017)

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