On the Fourth of July, America celebrates the Founding Fathers declaring independence from Great Britain. But let us also celebrate the videogame freedom fighters who risked their extra lives to stand up to evil corporations, governments, mad scientists, and pixelized armies. We nerds salute you.
15. The Chosen One (Fallout 2)
The Chosen One began life as a tribal nobody trying to end a drought. But his belief in every man's right to freedom, regardless of radiation levels and/or mutation, eventually lead him to freeing the West Coast (or what remained of it) from the Enclave. All he had to do was murder the President of the Enclave (don't worry - he was evil. Millard Fillmore-evil) and blow up an oil rig (an evil oil rig. Deepwater Horizon-evil). And with that, the people of the post-apocalyptic land no longer had to live in fear of the evil government - just super mutants, radiation, starvation, dehydration, disease, raiders, slavers, radscorpions, poison, gangsters, thieves, ghouls, rats, and deathclaws. That's called "progress."
14. Abe (Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee)
Abe had the unfortunate role of having to save his fellow Mudokon slaves from the ruthless, horrible-factory-designing Molluck and RuptureFarms. Unfortunately the Mudokons, while good-natured and hard-working, were completely unable to understand that walking into an electric forcefield would probably not end well. This alone should stand as a testament to Abe's dedication to freedom. That, and not having his mindless brethren turned into food products. Something we can all relate to.
13. Christopher Stone/American Resistance (Freedom Fighters)
Once a simple plumber, Christopher would take on the identity of the "Freedom Phantom" (or "Phreedom Phantom," which would have been a lot catchier). Like some kind of super-serious, assault rifle-toting Mario brother, he bravely fought against invading Russian Communists in an alternate-timeline New York City.* In the end, the city is saved, but the rest of the world is still under USSR control. Luckily, I hear the sequel will let you ride a dinosaur and use a cape to finally defeat Comrade Koopa once and for all.
*Maybe this would have been a little more relevant 20 years ago, but whatever.
12. Parker (Red Faction)
Mining on the planet Mars - sounds like a dream job, right? It did to Parker, who soon discovered that being a miner on any planet tends to suck, let alone on an oxygen-free red planet ruled by an evil corporation. Luckily, he joins up with a local rebellion, destroys the corporation, stops an engineered plague, and - most importantly - blows up a shit-ton of walls and caves for absolutely no reason. Thank you, Geo-Mod. We miss you more than any other gimmick.
11. Link (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Link must have been really confused after he pulled the Master Sword out of its resting place. He passed out for 7 years in a dusty temple and woke up having gone through puberty, a change of clothes, and all of Hyrule being taken over by Ganondorf. And, of course, no one else could save Hyrule/waste a ton of time fishing except for him and his metro-ninja friend. Link went about freeing all of the enslaved/frozen/trapped citizens of Hyrule and - as his reward - he got to go back to his childhood, where he would have to go through puberty all over again. That and he couldn't use his bow and arrow. If that came with a receipt, my guess is he would have returned it.