Undertale is a game unlike any other. A roleplaying game (RPG) where you don’t have to kill a single enemy, and can simply talk your way out of every encounter by showing mercy. It also happens to be one of the most loved stories ever crafted.
As with pretty much every game in existence however, it’s not just the interesting story or the unique gameplay that makes it so memorable—no, it’s the iconic characters you meet along the way. And Undertale has some of the most beloved characters ever to grace our screens. But which ones are the best, and why? Join us as we count down the top ten.
Chara is the first human to fall into the Underground and therefore the catalyst for the events of Undertale. Bearing a striking resemblance to the player character, Frisk, Chara gets taken in by Toriel and Asgore and treated as their own child, along with their son, Asriel. After consuming a yellow buttercup—deadly to humans—Chara became terminally ill and died, their soul merging with Asriel’s.
Chara, in control of Asriel’s body, carried their own corpse across the barrier between the human world and the Underground, and wanted to use their new power to destroy the humans who were attacking them. Asriel resisted Chara which ultimately led to the humans killing the fusion of the two souls.
The only time Chara makes a physical appearance in the game is if the player completes the genocide route by killing everything in their path.
Asgore is the king of the Underground and leader of its denizens, the monsters. He is also the ex-husband of Toriel, father of Asriel and adopted father of Chara as well as the penultimate boss of the neutral route.
While not evil or malicious, even shown as a nice monster during certain parts of the story, Asgore is one of the main antagonists due to his plan to capture and kill seven humans in order to use their souls to break the barrier which traps the monster in the Underground—he’s a complicated guy.
Having lost his family many years ago, and having to do terrible things for the sake of his people, he regrets it to such a degree that he can’t even look you in the eyes while fighting you. He is the most powerful monster in the Underground, but holds back against you. Yet, despite his terrible story, he still is still very much a wholesome character and is constantly trying to repair his relationship with his former partner Toriel.
Frisk is the player character of the game, and while they are the protagonist you play as, they are not the character you are asked to name at the beginning of the game.
By having an ambiguous personality, this allows the player to project their own personality onto them. Because of this, Frisk very much becomes the lens through which you experience Undertale. Be it genocide or pacifism, your actions decide what kind of person Frisk is.
Toriel is one of the first characters you encounter upon starting Undertale. Taking you in much as she did with the first human she adopted, she looks after you until you decide to leave the ruins in order to get back home.
Before the events of Undertale, she was married to King Asgore and had a son, Asriel. When the first human fell into the Underground, she adopted them as their child. When the deaths of their two children pushed Asgore to declare war on humanity, Toriel became disgusted by his actions. She left him, retrieved the first human’s body so she could give them a proper burial, and remained in the Ruins.
When fighting Toriel to leave the ruins, if the player chooses to spare her over and over again, her attacks begin to purposely avoid the player, showing her unwillingness to cause harm to them, a sentiment she instilled in you when guiding you through the ruins.
Alphys is an adorable, shy and awkward scientist who the player character meets once reaching Hotland. Alphys is known for watching far too much anime, and most notably for her huge crush on the leader of the royal guard, Undyne, creating one of the most beloved lesbian couples in modern fiction.
Appointed as the royal scientist by Asgore after her predecessor disappeared, Alphys created the ultra-popular entertainment robot Mettaton, which leads us nicely into our next entry on this list.
Mettaton, probably the most flamboyant character in Undertale, is an entertainment robot created by Alphys and hosts many TV shows to entertain the Underground’s inhabitants. Despite his showbiz personality, Mettaton has also been programmed to kill humans in order to capture the souls needed to escape the Underground.
Mettaton is also one of Alphys’ experiments to create a soul from scratch, but only real human souls contain enough power to break the barrier. It is revealed later in the game that the only reason Mettaton was trying to kill the player character was so Alphys could save them, thus making her feel more important and growing closer to the protagonist.
Met at the very beginning of the game, Flowey is a yellow flower that pretends to be your friend before trying to kill you.
Actually the reincarnation of Asriel—Toriel and Asgore’s late son but lacking a soul—Flowey is the final boss of Undertale and is essentially able to control the game, saving, loading and erasing everything on a whim. While definitely the evilest character in the game, Flowey’s story is possibly the saddest too, because at the end of the day, he is just a sad, lost child who wants to feel something again.
Everyone’s favourite angry fish lady, Undyne is captain of the royal guard, in charge of capturing humans. She is loud, impulsive and scary, with your first encounter involving a stress-inducing chase sequence. However, after completing the neutral ending and attempting the true pacifist run, we see Undyne’s true colours, where her feelings for Alphys are revealed and a scene plays where Undyne kisses Alphys on the cheek, causing her to blush profusely. Wholesomeness at its peak.
The coolest skeleton in the Underground, Papyrus is a member of the royal guard, although not very good at his job. All of Papyrus’ text is written in the papyrus font and he is loud, active and very much full of himself, but in an endearing way.
Papyrus means to become a full-fledged member of the guard by capturing a human to please his superior, Undyne. He believes completing this goal will finally make him popular and allow him to have friends. A lover of puzzles and spaghetti, Papyrus provides much of the game’s comic relief and is a key character in the plot of the game.
The only Undertale character that could be number one on this list, Sans is known by just about everyone on the internet. Like his brother, Sans is named after a font, namely comic sans, which fits his personality perfectly, as he is a lover of bad puns and practical jokes. He aids the protagonist during the neutral and pacifist runs, and is the final boss and heroic antagonist in the genocide run.
Known primarily for his iconic battle music ‘Megalovania’, Sans is the subject of many memes, mostly involving this piece of music. Fanart of Sans and his brother Papyrus has caused controversy on the internet in the past, with many artists depicting them in a romantic, sexual relationship, and many fans shipping them together, seemingly promoting incest. In any case, with his silly humour and infuriatingly hard boss fight, Sans the skeleton is well deserved for his spot at number one.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, when the indie video game sphere had the mother of all bombshells dropped on it. On a cold September day in 2015, Undertale was released and changed the face of gaming forever.
Its fandom exploded overnight, with fanart, alternative universes (AUs) and just general love for one of the most unique games of its time. Before we dive into the fandom however, we should first mention what Undertale is actually about.
Undertale was released on 15 September 2015 on PC. Developed by American video game developer Toby Fox, the game follows a young child who has fallen down a hole in a mountain, landing in the Underground, a place where monsters had been trapped after a great war with humans. From there, the child meets many eccentric and unique characters on their journey to escape this strange land.
What really set Undertale apart from its competitors is the fact that it took the role-playing game (RPG) formula and flipped it on its head. A typical RPG has you fighting monsters to level up and progress in the story—not Undertale. The game implemented a ‘Mercy’ system, in which instead of fighting, you could talk to your enemies, and if you said the right things, you could ‘spare’ them and avoid a fight altogether. Wholesome, right?
This unique battle system completely altered the way the game panned out and gave way to three different unique kinds of playthroughs available to the user. Regular, where you spared and killed however you saw fit. Pacifist, where you spared every single enemy you came across, even bosses. And Genocide, where you killed every single monster you encountered.
These choices gave the game great replayability, and provided players with different interactions and a hoard of unique fights and character encounters depending on the route they decided to take. The world hadn’t seen anything like it, and Toby Fox had the gaming world in the palm of his hand.
Now you’re up to speed, let’s talk fandom. There are fandoms for almost every kind of popular culture, and some are more inviting than others. For example, the League of Legends fandom is a place most people want to avoid, particularly because of the game’s prolific reputation for being incredibly toxic.
Unfortunately, Undertale has a similar myriad of issues. Problems began to arise after the game’s release, when countless YouTubers such as jacksepticeye and Pewdiepie posted full playthroughs of the title, all of which were overall well received. Unfortunately however, this was the initial breeding ground where Undertale fans began to gain a reputation for being internet bullies.
Popular gaming YouTuber Markiplier began his playthrough of the game in the November following its initial release, but then suddenly quit after only two episodes. It turns out that this was due to fans complaining about how he gave Sans, a very popular character, a redneck voice and fans generally harassed the YouTuber about the choices he made during the course of the game
For example, Markiplier wanted to do the Genocide run, irritating a lot of fans as most consider the Pacifist run to be the ‘truest’ path through the game. The online gamer started receiving threatening comments, and the sheer volume of Undertale fans sharing their increasingly harsh thoughts and opinions discouraged Markiplier from playing it altogether.
However, some time later, in 2016, he returned to the game and live streamed the whole thing, speaking to viewers about his past experience with Undertale. “Everyone was disappointed in the way I was playing it, and ordinarily I would just be like: ‘Y’know, I’m doing it my way. I’m gonna do this’,” Markiplier explained.
“But unfortunately, it was so pervasive that it made the entire experience not fun for me. It was literally just a moment where I was like: ‘I’m not having fun making these videos because I know that no matter what I do, everyone will think I’m wrong’.”
To make matters worse, the discourse surrounding which route was ‘correct’ grew even more malicious over time. Discord user and Undertale fan BabyCharmander told Kotaku, “I was seeing people being 100% serious when they compared people who played that route to child abusers and murderers. As someone who actually played the Genocide route and felt immensely guilty for doing so (the game does a pretty good job at making you feel like an absolute monster), I felt even worse after seeing posts about things like that.”
If you think that’s bad, things began to really escalate in December 2015. Just three months after its release, it won GameFAQs ‘Best Game Ever’ contest, knocking the previous title holder The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time off the prestigious podium. Undertale even managed to beat other classic beloved games such as Pokémon Red and Blue and Super Mario 64.
While it undeniably blew its competitors out of the water, many online gamers were upset, accusing fans of brigading and using bots to get more votes. Others believed the game was too recent to be eligible for such a title, some even claimed that it lacked originality due to its obvious Earthbound influences.
Finally, the issue of shipping needs to be addressed. For those of you who may not be aware, shipping is the act of pairing up fictional characters who you believe should be in a romantic and/or sexual relationship. The issue with this within the Undertale saga springs from the usually sexually explicit depictions of Sans and Papyrus, who are brothers, as well as the characters Frisk and Chara, who are litteral children.
Many fans have worked hard to combat the toxicity of others in the fandom, actively speaking out against “Fontcest/Frans,” as the ships were known, and discouraging others from participating in the problematic discourse.
Despite all the evidence against it, it could be argued that Undertale has some hope left for it. Fan of the game Manuela Ito-Loidl spoke to SCREENSHOT to share her experience in the infamous fandom. She was first introduced to the game by her son, who showed her videos of it on YouTube: “There was a video that showed the encounter with Sans and his brother Papyrus and I loved the puns and the humour.”
The fandom, despite its reputation, has a huge amount of creativity, as Ito-Loidl discovered. “The fandom is so creative. New AUs are being created every other day, even after seven years the fanbase is still alive and kicking,” she explained.
“Recently, Sans was elected ‘Tumblr Sexyman’ on Twitter and even the creator tweeted about it.” Despite its age, it seems Undertale developer Toby Fox is still engaging with fans—making for a very heartwarming online interaction. With the release of Deltarune Chapter 2—the second part of Fox’s follow up game Deltarune— released almost a year ago, there is still plenty of content for fans to get creative with.
Since its initial craze back in 2015, the Undertale fandom has calmed down considerably. It is a much more inviting space than what it once was. It has successfully squashed a majority of the toxicity, replacing it with a more inclusive, creative, and less elitist space. If you have somehow avoided the spoilers for all these years and haven’t gotten around to playing it, I highly suggest you do. It is a heartwarming, wonderfully quirky title that every gamer should have under their belt.