Over the years, Gundam has provided us with some of the best giant robot fights in all of anime history. Even though it goes against the anti-war narrative that most series push, fans have come to look to Gundam for cool fights between ace pilots, some of whom may or may not be gifted with incredible psychic abilities...to make themselves even better pilots.
But it’d be a mistake to assume every pilot in the Gundam series was even remotely competent. The truth is, there’ve been some pretty terrible ones over the years, and here we look at them all. For this list, we’re including anyone who’s ever piloted a mobile suit and rating them accordingly.
One of the newer characters introduced in Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise, Kazami is the weak link in a group of teammates that already aren’t very good, or even experienced. But while the rest of the group isn’t very good, they at least manage to find a way to pull their weight, while also remaining aware of their skills. Kazami in the early parts of Re:Rise doesn’t seem to be capable of pulling his weight, and isn’t very aware of it either. This is at least understandable in the others, but Kazami’s mobile suit is patterned after the Justice Gundam from SEED Destiny, some of the most powerful suits we’ve ever seen. There’s no excuse for this.
9 KOU URAKI
Kou deserves a bit of a break. People trash him for being something of a sap who can’t match up to the cooler villain that serves as the antagonist of his series, Anavel Gato. But that feels unfair—while Gundam 0083 gives us an older protagonist than the Gundam main series, that’s not really saying much considering most Gundam protagonists aren’t even able to vote legally. Kou’s only 19 years old and he’s put up against a military veteran. ...But having said all that doesn’t make him a better pilot—he’s still constantly getting schooled and looks unimpressive compared to even fellow OldTypes of the UC.
8 LACUS CLYNE
Lacus Clyne can be one of the more polarizing figures from what’s ultimately the most polarizing series in Gundam. Unlike some other series which are largely either loved, hated, or forgotten, both SEED and the characters in it are either really loved or really hated.
Having said that, the pop star turned revolutionary isn’t especially known for piloting Gundams. Still, she briefly hops in the Infinite Justice Gundam to give it to someone else, and obviously was pretty terrible at it. But if this seems a bit of a stretch, know that this was enough for her to be made playable in multiple Gundam titles over the years.
7 KIO ASUNO
The series Kio comes from is pretty terrible, so it’s not especially surprising it produced a character like this. Kio operates in the mold of previous pacifist characters like Relena Peacecraft or Marina Ismail. The difference in those characters is that for the most part, they’re not actually pilots—they stay out of mobile suits because a pacifist’s place isn’t on the battlefield. Kio on the other hand spends most of his time refusing to kill anyone—which would be an admirable goal if humanity hadn’t been at war with another race for decades by the time he was born. It’s not that he isn’t talented, he just rarely puts his talent to use properly, making him one of the worst of all.
6 FA YUIRY
It wasn’t really Fa’s job to be a mobile suit pilot. She had a fairly normal life and would’ve continued it if her friend Kamille wasn’t an idiot who decided to work with a terrorist against the Earth Federation. Because of this, she wound up on the Argama alongside him after her parents were jailed by the Titans. While onboard the ship with Kamille, she’d gradually learn how to pilot to contribute, and would learn how to pilot everything from repurposed GM IIs to the Zeta Gundam. She was never very good, but to her credit she was one of the only people to survive the battle with the Titans.
5 CHRISTINA MACKENZIE
Christina’s one of the few characters on this list who isn’t a horrible pilot that people actually have fond memories of. That’s because the point of Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket wasn’t cool space fights—it was about how war isn’t very cool at all, and how people cope with losing friends, comrades, and even lovers. For that story, Christina is a likable character, because her competency as a pilot isn’t necessary to drive the series’ plot. Nonetheless, as the pilot of the RX-78NT-1 “Alex” Gundam, she’s serviceable at best. She’s meant to be a test pilot, and as a result spends almost zero time in combat.
One of the most sad parts of Zeta Gundam is seeing what happens to Katz. The orphans aboard White Base during the original series are meant to add comedic relief to what is otherwise a relentlessly dark series about a war that’s taken countless lives. Zeta takes place several years later, where one of those orphans decides to fight against a now corrupt Earth Federation.
But as respectable a choice as that is, Katz is...just too stupid. He attempts to pilot the RX-178 Gundam Mk. II and succeeds only in getting the suit wrecked. He joins Kamille in combat briefly, but eventually winds up dying thanks to his reckless and thoughtless behavior.
3 MICHEL NINORICH
The 08th MS Team wasn’t exactly packed with the most talented group of soldiers. That was actually part of the point. They weren’t supposed to be an assortment of ace pilots, they were meant to be a group of grunt soldiers who were just trying to survive in the most dangerous war in human history. Michel spent most of his time working in a hover truck as the co-pilot, but he had an opportunity once to pilot a RX-79[G] Gundam, but he was pretty horrible at it. Unsurprisingly, he went back to serving in a support capacity afterwards.
2 QUATRE WINNER
The Wing boys are generally thought of as fairly talented pilots, which makes sense considering that was literally all they were trained to do as children. Their entire purpose in life was to serve as weapons to help the colonists free themselves from the control of Earth’s governments. But if there’s a weak link in the group, it has to be Quatre. This isn’t precisely a bad thing, as he’s the closest member of the group that resembles an actual human instead of a kid raised to make war. Still, he falls far behind the rest in terms of overall piloting skills, and is lucky to have the Zero System to bolster his abilities by the end.
1 JERID MESSA
The most high profile scrub of them all. The worst part about Jerid was that the series tried to convince everyone he was actually good. He kept finding ways to get back onto the field even though every time he did he just wound up getting spanked by Kamille. It was especially ridiculous as it felt like every appearance he made, he was piloting yet another new mobile suit. It felt like a microcosm of why the Federation was failing: mediocre pilots being given undeserved opportunities with billion dollar machines, wasting untold amounts of money and risking military operations.