As some families celebrate Mother’s Day, there should also be a well-deserved shout-out to the motherless. The people who find family not in blood, but in the people they choose. Speaking of, some of the most loveable, adoptive companions can be found with a controller in your hands. So, let’s take some time to talk about the best found families in video games.
Dragon Age II – Hawkes and Friends
There’s an argument for any Dragon Age or Mass Effect game to be on this list. However, we chose Dragon Age II because, without the Kirkwall crew, Hawke never would have survived physically or emotionally.
The Inquisitor and Shepard tend to have a few favorite companions and a professional distance from some of their other crewmembers. Meanwhile, the Warden’s relationships, though deep, were made under extreme duress while solving the dilemma at hand.
The Kirkwall crew came together over multiple years and had fights, reconciliations, crises, and losses. They’ve all lost most—if not all—of their original families. Collectively, they’re all lonely, lost, angry, and heartbroken. Hawke’s Kirkwall companions are a dysfunctional family, for sure. But when a group of people like them comes together, a family is bound to be made. If only the fall of Kirkwall didn’t send them in different directions.
Final Fantasy X – Orphans of Sin
The backbone of every Final Fantasy game is a ragtag group coming together to fight a great evil. Few were ever as family-focused, though, as the Final Fantasy X crew. Every single member of Yuna’s entourage was somebody who lost someone they loved to the great, cyclical monster, Sin. Tidus’ father. Wakka’s brother. Yuna’s father. Lulu’s love.
As the group travels around the world, they become each other’s family, and are the first heroes in decades to choose to protect each other over sacrificing themselves to save the world. They stop the cycle.
Raised to sacrifice herself, this new found family teaches Yuna to cherish every life, including her own. No wonder in Final Fantasy X-II she decides to lead the rest of them to ends of reality to get Tidus back.
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Nier Automata – Circuitry and Veins
In technical terms, androids and robots don’t have blood relatives. Family isn’t a concept they should care about. However, that hardly stops the heart-wrenching characters of NieR from forming feelings and creating their own families.
Obviously, 9S and 2B become their own little family unit, with 2B going through loop after loop to try to protect and save 9S. There’s a reason NieR: Automata’s story is famously beloved and tear-jerking.
Meanwhile, the robots themselves also build so many found families. Pascal’s village. The circus. The Forest King. Even in a world where the concept of family wasn’t supposed to be relevant, those without it fight to create their own bonds. The characters of Nier: Automata prove that friendship, community, and any other kind of love can build into a meaningful family.
Ace Attorney series – The Wright Anything Agency
Okay, this one might lean on a surprising edge of professionalism, much more than other found families in video games. But when Mia Fey started the Wright Anything Agency, she started something special. A place that attracted people with the same ideology.
From Mia to Phoenix, Apollo to Athena, this collection of lawyers and support staff will do anything to uphold the law and help one another. It becomes such a tight-knit found family that Phoenix even adopts a helpful little girl, Trucy, and she becomes the next generation of honorable Wrights.
The Wright Anything Agency often lean hard on each other, supporting one another through every single trial and tribulation that comes their way. Through their undying support of each other, they become their own sort of family, coming together to excel at the work they all love.
Tales from The Borderlands – The Reluctant Treasure Hunters
Though this game is full of laughs and absurdity, this self-centered motley crew of main characters does eventually see each other as a family. Yes, Fiona and Sasha are already sisters, but even their origin story is rooted in adoption and found family.
Tales’ adventure is zany and bloody, but along the way, Vaughn, Sasha, Fiona, Rhys, Loader Bot, and Gortys all fight to finish their story together, not apart. They don’t always agree (they actually often disagree) but they will always hunt each other down, save one another, rebuild, and take the next steps together.
While the game may have ended on a cliffhanger, there’s no doubt these treasure hunters will cross the galaxy if it means finding each other again.
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Tales of Vesperia – The Knights of Brave Vesperia
There are few more classic found family stories than Tales of Vesperia. A handful of people from different backgrounds who’ve all lost their own families. Then, a threat to their world emerges. Together, they try to stop the worst from happening and, over time, become more than a crew—they become family.
The characters of Brave Vesperia even fall into familial roles on their own accord. Raven and Karol act as father figures, and Yuri fulfills the big brother role for the younger members. This group will do anything for one another and even at times abandon their initial goals to commit to the team.
The best part? Unlike a lot of the bleaker endings, the Vesperia crew has a true happy ending for their family. After their hardships, they choose to continue adventuring together.
The Last of Us – The Millers
We’d be in trouble if we didn’t put this famous clicker-fighting duo on our list. There are few more iconic found families in video games than Ellie and Joel. A sarcastic teen girl used to losing people. A grumpy smuggler who still hasn’t gotten over the loss of his own daughter. Can they find solace in each other? (Spoilers: yes, and it’s beautiful.)
As far as found families in video games go, Joel and Ellie are like the blueprint. The classic that inspires others. After losing so much, Joel and Ellie come together to create a new family that chooses each other, even if it means facing the worst dangers of the world. All that matters is that they’re together.
They also probably share flannels once Ellie grows up, which is queer family goals.
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The Witcher – The Family of Surprise
At first, Geralt of Rivia had no interest in being a parent. However, after the events of ‘The Witcher’ book series and his memories returning in The Witcher 3, Geralt steps up to be the father that he was meant to be. Yes, Ciri and Yennefer of Vengerberg of were both quite the surprises for Geralt.
But even if you’ve only played The Witcher video games, Geralt’s bonds with these two magical women are irreplaceable. Once Geralt finally reunites with Ciri, it’s clear that there’s no other family out there for him, even among other Witchers. She, and Yennefer, are it for him.
Moreover, with Yennefer as her mother and the great White Wolf as her father, Ciri has a better found family than anything Emperor Emhyr could have ever given her.
Undertale – Monster Mom
Yes, we’ll admit, Undertale’s found family didn’t start off so well. When the player character, Frisk, and Toriel first meet, she makes them a pie and offers them a home. However, she also tries to keep them trapped in said home forever.
After you escape and learn her backstory, though, Toriel becomes a lot more complex. After losing her last chosen family, she just wanted to protect Frisk. While she did it wrong, she made her choices out of a powerful, genuine, aching love.
If you choose to fight for the pacifist ending, you and Toriel can reunite and become the found family you both need. In a cute game that turns surprisingly dark and heartbreaking, there are few things better than getting to start your life all over again with a kind, loving monster mom.
Want to read more features from Press SPACE to Jump? Check out Kristi’s article on Persona 3 Portable’s FeMC. Looking for something more personal? Read Steph’s piece about the nine games that’ve made her cry over on our sister site, Game Sandwich.