Thanksgiving is ostensibly about appreciating what you already have as you cram your face full of turkey, stuffing, and pie, but at its heart, the holiday is about family. Our loved ones are the most important thing in our lives, regardless of whether they’re actually blood relatives.
Over the years, video games have seen their fair share of strong, entertaining, and downright bizarre families. Some of them loved each other from the very beginning, while others took some convincing, but all of them were better together than they were separated. We’re taking a moment to remember some of our favorite video game families.
Spoilers for The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid 4, BioShock Infinite, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow to follow!
The Mario Brothers
As seen in: Almost every game with “Mario” in the title
They’re the most famous family in video game history, and with good reason. Mario and Luigi are a dynamic duo capable of taking on anything and everything Bowser throws in their way, and they do it with smiles on their faces. Their attitudes toward direct conflict are different — Mario is whimsical and Luigi is a bit of a worry-wart — but they’re both committed to rescuing Princess Peach and saving the Mushroom Kingdom from total chaos. From a physical standpoint, the two also make a perfect pair, as Mario’s short size makes him well-suited for running while Luigi’s lankier build makes him great for reaching high places.
One question still remains about Mario and Luigi, however: What is their last name? In the 1993 live-action film, John Leguizamo’s Luigi reveals that their surname is Mario, meaning that his brother’s name is, in fact, Mario Mario. Series creator Shigeru Miyamoto has actually gone back and forth on this contentious issue, himself, but perhaps we’ll get a more definitive answer in the future.
BJ Blazkowicz and Anya Oliwa
Very few people can truly love each other without every speaking, but that’s exactly what happened with BJ Blazkowicz and Anya Oliwa in Wolfenstein: The New Order. After BJ had been forced into a coma, Anya took care over him in her family’s mental hospital for over a decade, becoming his sole source of comfort as the world he knew crumbled under the boot of the Third Reich. When he finally woke from his vegetative state, BJ and Anya quickly became lovers, and during the events of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, she is pregnant with twins. It isn’t just their love that makes BJ and Anya such a great video game family — they’re also badass Nazi-killers.
Castlevania: The Belmont family
As seen in: The Castlevania series
If Dracula had it his way, he would have conquered Transylvania along with the rest of the world a long time ago. But the Belmont clan has always been there to stand in his way, foiling his plans and destroying his many underlings in an ongoing battle to rid the world of evil. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Simon, Trevor, Juste, or Richter Belmont, as the entire family is fully committed to destroying the Prince of Darkness.
Joel and Ellie
As seen in: The Last of Us
At the very beginning of The Last of Us, protagonist Joel is forced to watch his daughter die in his arms in an act of senseless violence. Two decades later, Joel is introduced to Ellie, a belligerent and sarcastic girl who seems to be everything his biological daughter was not. Despite these differences, Joel can’t help but become a paternal figure for Ellie, protecting her from harm as the two make their way west to complete a mission far bigger than themselves.
Big Boss and his ‘sons’
As seen in: the Metal Gear Solid series
You can’t technically put clones on your family tree, but there’s no denying that Big Boss and his three “sons” — Solid Snake, Liquid Snake, and Solidus Snake — shared a bond greater than many of us will every experience with our own family, though rarely for the right reasons. While Big Boss became increasingly disillusioned with the world’s governments and worked to establish a sovereign mercenary state, his evil son Liquid Snake seized control of a nuclear-equipped Metal Gear mech that threatened the entire world — until the righteous son Solid Snake put an end to his plans. What was the third son, Solidus, doing during this time? Just being the president of the United States.
The influence of the nefarious Patriots organization extended to the most powerful man in the world, and it was once again up to Solid Snake (and new pal Raiden) to defeat his brother. It would take many, many years for Solid Snake and Big Boss to eventually reconcile, but they did forgive each other just before the eldest Snake passes away.
Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth
As seen in: Bioshock Infinite
In BioShock Infinite, down on his luck gambler Booker DeWitt is sent on a mission to rescue his own flesh and blood, and he doesn’t even realize it until the final moments of the game. Elizabeth, the teenage daughter of the religious zealot Zachary Comstock, is rescued from her prison near the beginning of the adventure, setting the stage with an emotional confrontation with her father regarding her identity and her role in the prophesized destruction of the world.
As it turns out, the answers to her questions are a little more complicated than she had hoped. Both DeWitt and Comstock are actually the same person in different timelines, and Elizabeth’s ability to open rifts between dimensions was caused after she was stolen from DeWitt by Comstock — she’s both of their daughters, and her real name, Anna DeWitt, has already been alluded to at multiple points in the game.