Let me begin
Back in my college days, I was forced to take a speech class in order to complete my degree. Being that I didnt have any great fear of public speaking, I figured this would be a simple class I could easily breeze through. The professor I ended up with, however, was one of the tougher ones in the school, and expected State of the Union Address-style perfection from all of us.
Needless to say, the class was much more stressful than I had anticipated. Years later, I still harbor some negativity toward him. And, since letting go of baggage is nothing but a good thing, Ive decided the time has come. The time to exorcise these demons once and for all. How? By passive-aggressively diverting my insecurities elsewhere and grading the speeches, sayings, and mantras of characters in video games.
“May the Night Mother wrap you in her cold, dark embrace.” The Dark Brotherhood (The Elder Scrolls)
10/10 This salutation shared between those of you within the Dark Brotherhood is easily one of the most chilling things said in video games. It fits perfectly, allowing one to be cordial with a fellow killer-for-hire while still reminding one another of your true purpose and method of making a living.
Cold, macabre, and eerily effective, theres something awesome in the way its shared between Brothers that gives it the ultimate badass edge so many others strive for. Truly, the greatest shame is that none of your victims will ever fully appreciate the lengths to which your badassery goes before taking a dagger to the throat.
“Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” Ezio Auditore da Firenze (Assassins Creed: Revelations)
Full speech: “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. To say that nothing is true is to recognize that the foundations of society are fragile, and that we must be the shepherds of our own civilization. To say that everything is permitted is to understand that we are the architects of our actions, and that we must live with their consequences, whether glorious or tragic.”
6/10 While its a beautiful breakdown of the Creed, Ezio, I dont know if this reaches quite the same heights of badassery as the others on this list. Rather than being a badass statement, its a little bit more of a philosophical lecture on the mindset and beliefs held by the Assassins. Plus, in this explanation, were supposedly talking about a group of people who dedicate their lives to perfecting the killing arts. This sounds like the initiation speech of a really pretentious fraternity. I will give you this; the poignant way in which you deliver it gives each word a nice punch, but its not the skull-crushing blow it needs to be to stand out on this list.
“Spartans never die. They just go to Hell and regroup.” Spartans (Halo Series)
8/10 Allow me to be frank with you, Halo. Although it sounds a bit like the grumbled, jingoistic military nonsense spoken by Colonel Quaritch in Avatar, I do have to admit this saying has a nice ring to it. The Spartans themselves are tough as a bear raised in a barbed wire forest, so its fitting for them to have an equally tough mantra used to help assuage the emotions of those mourning their MIA comrades.
As any good commanding officer will know, its important to keep morale high during times of war, especially when that war is one waged with ancient alien races looking to blast lasers through the midsections of unsuspecting humans. So Halo, as much as I dont love campy military dialogue, I cant fault you for evoking the image of immortal soldiers as a way to keep everyone motivated to finish this fight.
“Amonkira, Lord of Hunters. Grant that my hands be steady, my aim be true, and my feet swift. And, should the worst come to pass, grant me forgiveness.” Thane Krios (Mass Effect 2)
10/10 Thane, everything about this prayer serves as a nice summation of who you are. You are, in my mind, one of the ultimate badasses, a gentleman killer who is fully aware of his power and feels no need to broadcast machismo to the entire world. The mere fact that you do this so well is nothing short of impressive.
Humility and loyalty are two of your most important traits, and this prayer to Amonkira shows it. Whats more, this prayer very delicately asks for success in killing someone and forgiveness in the event everything goes wrong, all delivered in one cool, reverent breath. If I were one of your targets, Id be hiding under the blankets of my bed, completely terrified. Well done, sir. Take a bow.
“When we hunt, we kill. No one is safe. Nothing is sacred. We are Blackwatch. We are the last line of defense. We will burn our own to hold the red line. It is the last line to ever hold.” Blackwatch (Prototype)
9/10 I wont lie folks; this is a pretty solid creed. Death is promised, safety is denied, and you pretty much establish yourselves as cold-blooded pragmatists that will do anything to ensure the success of your mission, including sacrificing your own people for the sake of your objectives.
The only thing that counteracts this is that youre essentially proven worthless against one man who has the ability to transform himself into a hideous writhing monster in varied forms. Youve successfully contained entire viruses before, but youre not able to stop a single dude who looks like the bass player of a late ’90s punk rock band. You might want to spend a little less time reciting badass creeds and start working a lot more on your combat performance.
“I am matter. I am antimatter. I can see your past. I can see your future. I consume time, and will consume you.” Culex (Super Mario RPG)
9/10 Culex, the most devastating part of this entire saying of yours is the fact that you pretty much simultaneously declare yourself anything and everything all at once. That sets up pretty lofty expectations, which is exactly what the ultimate badass needs to be fully realized.
Where you run into trouble is the continuity thing. You start off declaring that you are both everything and nothing, that you see the future and “consume time,” and then immediately jump to consuming your foes. Which, you know, thats fine, but the two arent really connected per se. A minor critique, but one you might want to keep in mind the next time you decide to emerge and wish devastation upon unsuspecting plumbers and their friends.
“My name is Ultima. I am power both ancient and unrivaled. I do not bleed, for I am but strength given form. Feeble creatures of fleshyour time is nigh!” Ultima Weapon (Final Fantasy)
9/10 I really do have to applaud your brash confidence and self-esteem, Ultima. You obviously think highly of yourself, and it shows in this amazingly badass declaration. It also doesnt hurt that youre a massive, terrifying dragon monster in almost all of your varied forms.
The only issue you run into here is that youve appeared in a number of Final Fantasy games and have been defeated time after time by its different characters. The fact that you have proven yourself so vulnerable sort of robs this statement of its ultimate badassery. After all, why fear a villain with an amazing and ominous declaration of power such as this when you know its possible to defeat him? Plus, your adorable chibi form in Theatrhythm honestly does little to leave me quaking in my boots.
“We will be reborn in the cold womb of the ocean.” (BioShock 2)
9/10 To the Rapturian vandal who decided to scrawl this on the wall in BioShock 2: well done. Yours is a ruined city plagued with insanity and run by the unstable, and yet, like the diehard fans of a horrible sports team, theres an undying sense of hope within its citizens that things will one day return to their former glory.
Thats why this creed is so powerful; its direct in its message, a declaration that things will one day be good again. That one day, people wont have to walk down hallways and see blood smears on walls or damaged corpses lying awkwardly on the floor. Of course, we all know how things eventually turned out for the once-Utopian underwater paradise, but heyits good to dream.
“The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world. So wake up, Mr. Freeman. Wake up and smell the ashes.” G-Man (Half Life 2)
7/10 Heres the thing, G-Man: when you deliver this quote, its done in a way that implies you know things are about to get crazy. This makes things even more unsettling and mysterious, because we know next to nothing about you other than the fact that you enjoy speaking cryptically and have a penchant for fine mens wear.
Its really the way you deliver this line that robs it of some of its ultimate badassery. At the best times, you have a very creepy, unhinged way of speaking that is nothing short of unsettling, but its undercut by words you sometimes brokenly deliver like an old man in a nursing home asking for a bowl of oatmeal. You dont have a deep, sinister voice, so playing up the creepiness of your mysterious nature will go a long way in helping you achieve badass actualization in the future.
“God: the title suits me well.” SHODAN (System Shock)
Full speech: “In my talons, I shape clay, crafting life forms as I please. Around me is a burgeoning empire of steel. From my throne room, lines of power careen into the skies of Earth. My whims will become lightning bolts that devastate the mounds of humanity. Out of the chaos, they will run and whimper, praying for me to end their tedious anarchy. I am drunk with this vision. God: the title suits me well.” SHODAN (System Shock)
10/10 Ill be honest, SHODAN: things simply dont get any more terrifying than this. Your haunting, distorted voice delivers each of these lines slowly, savoring them like a fine wine while casually condemning humanity. Whats more, you kind of hit on all the points necessary to qualify as a horrifying villain: promise of death and destruction to humanity, descent into utter madness, omnipotence, and that whole difficult-to-stop thing that keeps people from ever fully being able to defeat you. Well done, SHODAN. Well done.
What say you?
There we have it. Badassery was expressed, chilling dialogue was delivered, and weve hopefully offered our heroes a bit of constructive criticism that will one day transform them into the pinnacles of badassdom they all aspire to be. Have any critiques youd add? Any other quotes I might have missed? Share them in the comments below, and we might add them into the article!