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15 Terrible Character Designs In Comics And Games

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15 Terrible Character Designs In Comics And Games

A very wise entity (Google) once defined laziness as “the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy; idleness.” Whether you forgot you had a book report due, need to meet a listicle writing deadline, or another third scenario, laziness rears its attractive head at nearly every important juncture in life. Sometimes it’s unintentional, like when you spend a day crafting a character only to discover you’ve accidentally invented “Robocop,” again.

RELATED: The 15 Best (and Worst) Superman Costumes

Now, we aren’t saying that these 15 character are necessarily bad, as we love many of these entries. It’s just that their character designs are just sorta… lazy. Whether it’s blurring the line between homage and plagiarism, tracing the lines of character A’s head on character B’s body, or just plain-old racism, these 15 character designs are as lazy as an incomplete simile.

15. THE MORTAL KOMBAT NINJAS

15 Mortal Kombat Ninja


While re-coloring and recycling character models is a common cost-effective tool utilized in video games to help fill up ranks, nobody swipes a palette quite like “Mortal Kombat.” We love the multicolored ninjas of Mortal Kombat — from the super-secret snot-green Reptile to the black-on-black-on-black Noob Saibot — but there’s no denying that palette swapping character models helped fill the rosters for the early MK games cheaply and efficiently. Given that the original Mortal Kombat in 1992 was made by a four-man development team, this is understandable.

RELATED: Every Mortal Kombat Ninja, Ranked

Fortunately, Mortal Kombat Kreators Ed Boon, John Tobias and The NetherRealms Studios team has since fleshed out each ninja, robot-ninja and lady-ninja with their own unique power-sets, history and designs that make every one of them distinct while still acknowledging their recolored roots. Seeing each of these originally bland ninja turn into a one of a kind Kombatant is one of the best things about each new MK game. The newest addition to this ninjutsu-rainbow is “Mortal Kombat X’s” orange earth-bending Tremor. That being said, we always equip our Kombatants with their throwback costumes immediately upon unlocking them.

14. AZRAEL BATSUIT

15 Azrael Batsuit - Wide Shot


The Azrael Batsuit is a deliberate sort of laziness, hence its low placement on this list. When Bane broke Bruce Wayne’s back in “Batman: Knightfall,” Batman elected Jean-Paul Valley to be interim Batman. This was generally considered a bad idea, considering the fact that Jean-Paul heretofore had a problem with the whole Batman-doesn’t-murder thing since Batman had not finished Jean’s murder-cult deprogramming. Also, Nightwing and Robin were, like, right there. Regardless, The Azrael Batsuit is a result of Azrael getting drunk off of the power of Bat-Murder.

This bad design is intentional however, a “be careful what you wish for” kind of response from “Batman” writer and editor Denny O’Neil to fans demanding a Darker Dark Knight. In fact, if you take off the wings and swap the blue out for red, it becomes obvious that Az-Bat is Batman in an Iron Man suit: There are machine gun arms lifted from War Machine, an Arc Reactor style chest window, inexplicable Spider-Man logo-legs on the calves, and the helmet from Iron Man’s stealth suit with tiny ears stuck on. The Azrael Batsuit is so un-Batman, and that’s the point.

13. BI-BEAST

13 Bi-Beast Incredible Hulk 169 JPEG


Wow, that name. Okay, Bi-Beast is an android villain originally appearing in “Incredible Hulk” #169 (1973), designed with two of everything — two heads, two fingers on each hand, two hands, two thumbs, and most likely currently attracted to two different genders if it weren’t an android crafted with zero nipples. Created by the Bird People, but curiously without wings, Bi-Beast’s top head has knowledge of Bird People science, which really seems like an incorrect generalization. Science is in, like, everything, and totally can be utilized to make an atom bomb and/or a Netflix show.

Anyway, the Bird People all died of starvation, which is okay because they had years of winged race wars, with Bi-Beast serving as their bizarre diaper-clad time capsule. So, A.I.M. tries to seize the Aerie, ancient city of the Bird People. Instead of letting Hulk smash, Bi-Beast activates a self-destruct mechanism, destroying himself, the Aerie and all traces of the Bird People. You may recognize this as the exact opposite of what Bi-Beast was created to do.

12. MAN-BEAST

12 Man-Beast Thor 135 JPEG


Man-Beast is a Man-Wolf, which is the literal translation of Werewolf. Are we knocking Werewolves in comics? Absolutely not, as we love that Marvel astronaut J. Jonah Jameson Junior is a werewolf — we’re already drafting “An American Werewolf on the Moon” screenplay, actually. Man-Beast, however, isn’t a werewolf. Man-Beast is a reverse-werewolf created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. See, Man-Beast used to be an ordinary wolf, until the High Evolutionary turned him into a more manly wolf-thing in his initial appearance in “Thor” #134 (1966). A wolf gaining man-like attributes is totally different from a man gaining wolf-life attributes.

More contemporary incarnations of Man-Beast depict him as being a wolf’s head on a wizard’s body, which admittedly sounds pretty awesome. Man-Beast is described as having a scientific mind fifty-thousand years beyond contemporary thinking, yet still calls himself Man-Beast. To make matters worse, Man-Beast is a racist reverse-werewolf, having masqueraded as the Hate-Monger — who was originally a Hitler clone in purple KKK gear — in the awesomely named “Killing Me Softly…with his HATE!” from “Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man” #14 (1978).

11. PAUL PHOENIX

11 Paul Phoenix - Tekken 6


Now, no one is saying that Paul Phoenix from the Tekken fighting game franchise is a bad character and/or fighter. You gotta love a guy that has a one-hit KO special move and whose rival is a grizzly bear trained in martial arts. Have you ever noticed though how Paul is basically Street Fighter’s Ken, with the same tattered karate outfit and everything, wearing Guile’s haircut? Paul’s move set is also coincidentally fire-themed, not unlike Ken Masters. Incidentally, while Paul can’t throw out a hadouken, Paul’s aforementioned power punch, “Burning Fist,” does have a windup animation not unlike a hadouken.

Similarities aside, the producer of “Tekken” (1994) Katsuhiro Harada explains that Paul was inspired by Japanese manga, specifically “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.” Paul’s origins help explain how he has evolved from Ken rip-off to Tekken’s joke character. Besides having an ursine nemesis, Paul’s greatest moment occurs in his “Tekken 5” ending, where he challenges an entire race of alien invaders to fight, and they accept the invitation.

10. MARA

10 Mara - Persona 5 Battle


Is this entry NSFW? Mara isn’t literally made of genitals, but it’s so similar that it’s too blatant to be Freudian, yet well past the point of phallic. Look, it’s a dong chariot, and we’re sorry. Mara from the “Persona” game series is a ludicrously anatomically correct demon, with a ripped frenulum for a mouth, the helmet is its helmet, and it’s kind of the worst monster ever.  In “Persona 5,” Mara rides a chariot whose axels perfectly cradle the veiny orbs that make up Mara’s scrotal feet. In earlier games it’s much clearer that those tendrils are tentacle pubes, which is a solid band name.

Incidentally, Mara has a surprisingly rich backstory. This veiny villain is just Persona’s interpretation of Mara, a Buddhist demon that tempted the Madapma Buddha into giving into his more base desires. Typically, Mara is depicted offering his three daughters to the Buddha. In Sri Lanken Buddhism, however, Mara is sometimes depicted with a slightly phallic helmet trying to stop Siddharta Gautama from reaching enlightenment. We just thought you should have something factual prepared in the event that someone asks why you’re looking at nightmare-porn.

9. COMBUSKEN

09 Combusken - Pokemon X_Y JPEG


Speaking of phallic, we have “Pokémon’s” Combusken, who claims to be the chicken Pokémon, praying that we all forget synonyms for rooster. From the little plume of hair bursting from the tip of its head, the fuzzy egg-shaped legs, to its name being a play on combustion, Combusken is totally genitals. We’re trying super hard not to be juvenile, and early depictions of Combusken have one of its feet raised to make it less obvious, but once Pokémon made the jump to 3D it became impossible to not see. It has to be intentional: the combustion rooster Pokemon that spits fire? Insert your own fire crotch joke here.

Let’s check out Combusken’s various Pokédex entries. From X: “Its kicking mastery lets it loose 10 kicks per second.” Y: “During a battle, the hot flame in its body increases.” A super-creepy entry from Emerald: “Its strong fighting instinct compels it to keep up its offensive until the opponent gives up.” Finally, from Sapphire: “Combusken battles with intensely hot flames it spews from its beak and with outstandingly destructive kicks. This Pokémon’s cry is very loud and distracting.” That’s just unsettling.

8. CLOCK KING

08 Clock King - Green Arrow


Now for an entry that sounds potentially phallic if you say it too many times, the Clock King, aka William Tockman. Mind you, we are not talking about the DCAU incarnation of The Clock King. No, we’re talking about Clock King’s costume when he was in The Injustice Gang, which was just Tockman in his underwear covered in clocks, with a clock for a head. Thankfully, no one called him Clock Head. The original Clock King design was apparently, “Throw clocks at it and let Clock-God sort it out.”

The worst part of the Clock King’s costume is that, despite being obsessed with time, none of Clock King’s clocks correctly tell the time, as they all seem to be set to unique times. Are there minuscule labels for different time zones on each clock? Probably not, because someone would’ve pointed that out. Also you can’t hide from the Batman when your entire uniform is ticking. When Clock King gets a redesign for “Batman: The Animated Series,” all the clocks are abandoned, save for the subtle clock hands on his glasses. This tells us that someone was aware of how overboard they were getting with the clocks.

7. SHAFT

07 Shaft Alternative Youngblood Alt Cover


Take one Hawkeye. Ignore the existence of The Green and/or Red Arrow. Remove the one thing that makes bows function. Claim magnets. Paste the name of one of the most popular African American cinematic heroes ever. Color it red. Congratulations: You’re Rob Liefeld and you’ve just created the leader of 1992’s “Youngblood,” Shaft.

Real name Jeff Terrel, Shaft really is a red Hawkeye. As a boy, Jeff — because it’s hilarious that Shaft is a guy named Jeff — always had his trusty slingshot at hand, quickly becoming obsessed with shooting things. Because “Call of Duty” wasn’t a thing yet, Jeff developed a nigh superhuman/psychopathic level of aim, not unlike one Clint Barton. After college, Jeff joined the FBI, and then joined Youngblood as its only member without powers. Oh, Jeff is also a master swordsman, because swords totally have shafts. Really, Jeff? You get to be an expert bowman (sorry, magnet-bowman) and swordsman? If you sink all of your points into marksmanship, then you have to be crappy at melee combat. That’s basic RPG character creation, unless you’re Legolas, which would also explain why Shaft has two swords.

6. GORILLA-MAN

06 Gorilla-Man Arthur Nagan


So, Marvel has had three different Gorilla-Men: The Gorilla-Man from “Tales to Astonish” #28 (1962) was a scientist that transferred his mind into a gorilla body, because whatever. The Gorilla-Man from “Agents of Atlas” was cursed with being Gorilla-Man for killing the previous Gorilla-Man — basic “The Santa Clause” rules. We’re not knocking talking gorillas, rather we’re talking about the OG (Original Gorilla-Man), a human head on a gorilla body.

Premiering in “Mystery Tales” #21 (1954), Dr. Arthur Nagan was a transplant surgeon who had crafted a serum that allowed for interspecies organ transplantation. Pleased with putting dog lungs into a sheep, Nagan sets up shop in Africa to transplant gorilla organs into humans, most of whom are elderly volunteers trying to prolong their lives. One of Nagan’s experiments escapes, however, somehow convincing a troop of gorillas to transplant Nagan’s head onto a gorilla body. This raises so many questions: Shouldn’t Nagan have the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine? Is there also a Man-Gorilla? Regardless, Nagan became obsessed with trying to replicate this procedure instead of contemplating how gorillas managed to successfully transplant a human head, without any complications or medical training whatsoever.

5. VANILLUXE

05 Vanilluxe Pokemon X and Y


The Ice Cream Pokémon, Vanilluxe is the sort of Pokémon one would invent while on the third day of a diet. Vanilluxe is the third and final form of Vanillite. Vanillite is a small cone who evolves into Vanillish, a waffle cone, at level 35, and at 47 turns into Vanilluxe, a deluxe ice cream float thing. That’s three terrible character designs that could have been stopped at any time. Vanilluxe is the worst of the trio, because who eats an ice cream cone with a straw? Is Vanilluxe a deluxe ice cream cone or an ice cream float? Make up your straw-pierced mind, Vanilluxe.

How does a Vanillite even survive to level 47? Why would God (who is a Pokémon named Arceus) create an animal that deliberately looks like a delicious frozen treat beloved by everyone? If you’re a Pokémon trainer stranded on a desert island — and your Pokémon can’t surf or fly or teleport because you’re bad at this — there’s no hesitation over which Pokémon you’re going to murder/devour first. At least Luvdisc is based somewhat off of a pre-existing tropical fish. Vanilluxe and its frosty forerunners are just ice cream cones with eyes.

4. BRUNO

04 Bruno - Dark Knight Returns Blu Ray


Created by Frank Miller for “The Dark Knight Returns,” Bruno is a Neo-Nazi lady, but you could’ve figured that one out for yourself. Bruno is literally a blonde Nazi wearing red swastika pasties over what has to be the first-ever bullet-proof boob-job, in combat fatigues, thigh-high leather boots and evening gown leather gloves. In other words, Bruno is a Nazi whose hatred extends to shirts. Is this an attempt to awaken subconscious Nazi fetishes within readers, not unlike unearthing kinky Nazi gold? Bruno used to be one of Joker’s henchmen, which seems out of character given the fact that the Joker refused to work with the Red Skull, basically King Nazi, in “Batman/Captain America” (1997) specifically because he was a Nazi.

Oh, apparently Bruno also has a pair of swastikas similarly tatted on her buttocks. While we appreciate that this means Bruno is farting on a sacred Nazi symbol at least 85% of the time, it just seems redundant. If you want to see super-Nazis done right, look at “Danger Girl’s” Major Maxim. We get it Bruno. You’re a Nazi. Oh hey, speaking of racists…

3. TYROC

03 Tyroc Legion of Superheroes


Tyroc was one of DC’s first black characters, debuting in April 1976’s “Superboy” #216, a year before Black Lightning. Tyron was the Legion of Superheroes’ first black member, despite their ranks including blue people. See, the reason that there were no black people up to this point in “Legion of Superheroes” is because black people were all located on an island that only phased into our universe once every 200 years. Yes, the first black Legion member was a sci-fi racial separatist. The descendant of slave mutineers, Tyroc can utilize a variety of abilities depending on how he screams: “EEYYAAHH!” activated his pyrokinesis, while “IRRRRWWWW!” let him manipulate plants. Not quite a “SHAZAM!” on the whole magic word scale.

To recap, the Legion’s first black member’s power was being super loud. Even Tyroc’s outfit is intentionally horrid, as the outfit was a means for co-creator Mike Grell to express his disgust with the lame racist character they were forced to use. As Grell explains, “I gave him a silly costume. It was somewhere between Elvis’ Las Vegas costume and something you would imagine a pimp on a street corner wearing.” Accurate.

2. TRUBBISH

02 Trubbish - Pokemon Anime


Trubbish is a garbage Pokémon. No, we’re not talking about its stats, this is literally a sentient bag of trash. In Pokémon, Trubbish is formed from the unholy union between chemical run-off and bags of trash. Trubbish likes to consume trash, typically preferring to follow litterers, and we assume general degenerates. Trubbish only stops emitting a terrible odor after it befriends you, so it has no friends. Trubbish’s default facial expression is a frown composed of jagged shards of glass, which is understandable when your primary interaction with humans is rejection and having your cranium ripped open to harvest your precious aluminum can organs. Could you imagine how terrible it must be to be the kid whose starter Pokémon is literally garbage?

Trubbish is the kind of creature born on an exhausted artist’s easel at 4:55PM on the Friday before a 3-day weekend. Sure, Slimer/Muk are sentient puddles of slime, but slimes are Monster Manual staples. This is a trash golem. Even Trubbish’s name is lazy — It’s rubbish, but trouble? A rubbish troll? Wait… it’s literally a portmanteau of trash and rubbish isn’t it? Truly, Trubbish is the Kaiser Soze of the Pokémon world.

1. TROLL

01 Troll - Youngblood


From Rob Liefeld’s “Youngblood,” Troll is the avatar of plagiarism: Troll is Logan’s head on Puck’s body. The real tragedy of this character design isn’t that Rob Liefeld thought we wouldn’t recognize Logan’s hair, rather that Wolverine and Puck served together on “Alpha Flight,” meaning that potentially only one image was needed to trace and/or “create” this amalgam character. Troll has three times the strength and endurance of a normal human. Troll has a “mysterious history” (read: none) although he’s a master of every form of combat, because he’s been active since The American Revolutionary War. This really all sounds like Wolverine stuff, who is also often mocked for being short.

Troll’s design reaches Olympic levels of laziness. Troll, real name Bartholomew J. Troll, is a member of the Troll race, who are trolls. Not to be confused with Human, aka James Tiberius Human, of the humans, a character we made up just now. Also, does Troll’s real name sound familiar? It should because it’s the full name of one Bartholomew JoJo Simpson. Rob Liefeld named his troll character Troll after “The Simpsons'” resident non-Szyslak trollkin.

Did we leave out your favorite lazy design? Got an example of a lazy character that isn’t satire? Let us know in the comments!