10 Most Tragic Characters In The God Of War Games
God of War is known for its brilliant Greek and Norse-inspired lore, including the most tragic parts. Some of these characters have lived through Hel.
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The God of War games are known for their brutal battles and iconic villains, but the most recent installment in the series has reminded fans of how much work goes into the characters’ stories. It’s common for the main characters in the games to meet untimely deaths, but more often than not, the stories of their lives are just as tragic as their unhappy endings.
The writers behind the series have brilliantly twisted Greek and Norse mythology to create one of the most compelling storylines in gaming. By taking a closer look at some of the characters in these games, players can begin to understand how these stories were crucial to building the grand mythos of God of War. As fans patiently wait for the delayed 2022 release of God of War: Ragnarok, it’s the best time to reintroduce some of the most tragic characters in previous games.
Considered the mother of all Titans, Gaia appears in God of War 2 and God of War 3 as a gigantic being covered with trees. After her son Cronos began to eat all of his children, his wife Rhea hid Zeus inside Gaia’s body to spare him. He would be safe and nurtured there until the time came to take his revenge against the Titans – including Gaia.
Gaia’s motivation for tricking Kratos in God of War 2 is clear – she felt hurt that Zeus started the Great War against the Titans. After saving him and keeping him safe in her own body, she felt betrayed by her grandson whose mission was now to exterminate her race. The fact that she died with Zeus impaled to her heart is a fitting end to her heartbreaking story.
In Greek mythology, Persephone is known as the queen of the Underworld, forced into that position after her marriage with Hades. This is true in God of War too, except this time, she has the opportunity to seek revenge.
As the main antagonist in the PSP game God of War: Chains of Olympus, she’s one of the coolest villains in God of War. What drove her to be so confident about her decision to end the world, however, is a life full of oppression and forced labor. She’s one of those antagonists players can’t help but feel sorry for in the end.
Players first meet in Orkos in God of War: Ascension, where they learn he was conceived by Ares and Alecto to become a powerful warrior and overthrow Zeus. However, Ares ends up disowning Orkos who is then turned into Kratos’ Oath-keeper. After years of servitude to this oath, Orkos realizes how unfair Kratos’ life has been and bravely chooses to help him throughout the game, slowly becoming his friend.
Just as the two reunite for a happy ending, fans learn that before Kratos defeated the Furies, they embedded the oath into Orkos again. To fully break free from Ares’ control, players have no choice but to give Orkos the ‘honorable death’ that he asks for. The heartbreaking scene where Kratos plunges his sword into his friend’s heart becomes one of the defining moments of the game, further fueling Kratos’ anger against the gods.
In God of War 3, Kratos learns from Athena that he must find and open Pandora’s Box to get the power he needs to defeat Zeus. However, Hephaestus reveals that Kratos needs his molded daughter, Pandora, to access the contents of the box.
Kratos gets attached to Pandora as they navigate the labyrinth towards the box together, likely seeing his own daughter in her. This is what makes Pandora’s sacrifice of throwing herself into the flames a heartbreaking moment. What’s worse is that the box turns out to be empty, making Pandora’s entire existence and needless death so tragic.
Often considered the secret boss in God of War 4, Sigrun is at the center of one of the most rewarding side quests in God of War. She was named the Queen of the Valkyries after Freya stepped down, but would later learn that the job was not as honorable as she had hoped.
In Norse mythology, the Valkyries are similarly bound to serve Odin and find worthy souls to send to Valhalla. In the video game, Odin corrupts the Valkyries and causes them to do terrible harm. In Sigrun’s efforts to undo this, she imprisons her own sisters before succumbing to Odin’s curse herself. The only way to regain her honor is for Kratos to kill her after murdering her sisters, freeing all of their spirits in the process.
Athena was a complicated character in the series, appearing in both God of War 2 and 3, and again as an illusion in the 2018 edition of God of War. She’s the kind voice that helps and warns Kratos through his journey, but also the treacherous god that sides with Olympus’ interests.
Despite her questionable intent, Athena’s last moments highlighted what was most important for her. She jumps in front of a furious Kratos and is accidentally killed by a blow meant for Zeus. She reveals that Zeus is actually Kratos’ father, which implies that her motivation for helping Kratos all this time was that she simply wanted to aid her brother.
The main antagonist in God of War 4 first appears on Kratos’ doorstep, pushing him to fight. Players must use all of Kratos’ best skills to defeat him, and even then, he’ll just keep coming back. It’s eventually revealed that Baldur’s invincibility was a gift from Freya – something that he considers to be a curse.
This is what drives him to take revenge on her, even after the curse is lifted. Consumed by his need for vengeance, Baldur chooses to strangle his own mother instead of walking away and living a full life, which forces Kratos to kill him and finally end his suffering.
Freya is a prominent character in God of War 4, as she plays a significant role in helping Kratos and Atreus improve their relationship. However, her own family affairs are a mess, as players later learn that she is actually Baldur’s mother.
After leaving her lover Odin, Freya is cursed to remain in Midgard forever. This means she had nothing else to hold onto but her love for Baldur, which causes her to cast an invulnerability spell on her son to prevent him from ever dying. Freya’s tragedy is that the son she loves so much is the person who eventually strangles her to death in the game. It’s a sad fate she doesn’t fight but rather silently accepts.
Appearing in the very first GoW game, Deimos is Kratos’ younger brother. He is violently taken away from his family after Zeus learns of a prophecy of “The Marked One” who will bring down Olympus. He was tortured by Thanatos for years before Kratos finally rescued him.
Deimos was angry with Kratos as he had no idea why it took him so long to come to his rescue. Right when players finally see the two reconcile and work together to beat the mighty Thanatos, Deimos is killed in the battle. It’s a heartbreaking moment, as Deimos had finally found the resolution to the anger that had consumed most of his adult life before perishing.
There’s no questioning that Kratos has lived a terrible life. From accidentally murdering his own wife and daughter, killing his own father and sister, and having to abandon his daughter a second time, the main character in God of War has been through a lot.
Without a doubt, Kratos is the most tragic character in the entire series, as all of the pain and anguish of the other characters’ stories are inextricably weaved through his own journey. One of the saddest moments in his story is his attempt to end his own life in the first GoW game, but Athena couldn’t even grant him that. They instead turn him into the God of War, which only leads him down the path to more bloodshed and pain.