Overwatch’s Roadhog, the wheezing, porcine tank from Hell, is my favorite video game character of 2016. The rush of visceral win I feel when I hook an enemy and blast scrap metal in their face is unparalleled. I love it all: the way his Scrap Gun bounces up and down when he lumbers to the objective; his full-throated, hacking cough; his maniacal laughter throughout his Whole Hog ultimate move; even his tacky stomach tattoo of a pig on fire.
But despite my love for Roadhog, I’ve still feel like I don’t quite know him. To fans, Dva is a Cheeto-snacking gamer brat, Zarya is an emblem of homosexuality in Russia, Soldier 76 is the absent father and Tracer is.... butts? What is Roadhog, or what could he have been?
Recently, I dug into Roadhog’s cannon and discovered that his true name is Mako Rutledge, and he has a lot of baggage. An Australian, Mako’s country was ravaged by omnics, Overwatch’s robots, displacing himself and his family. He decided to rebel against the omnics along with the Australian Liberation Front. When the Australian countryside was again ravaged, but this time by a chemical explosion at an omnic factory, he lost it. That’s when he put on his mask, found his motorcycle (“hog”) and got the hell out.
What we know about Roadhog’s personal life is limited, but we do know that he’s quite close to the hero Junkrat, a crazed, cackling explosive fiend. Roadhog agreed to be his bodyguard and, together, they embarked on an international robbery and destruction spree.
Before Roadhog became a “one-man apocalypse,” before the omnics destroyed his home, he had to have been someone else. There must have been some humanity in him. That’s probably why fans have extrapolated on what we know—he has a ponytail and tattoos, suffered a hard life and is close to Junkrat—and turned him into a gay emo high-schooler. As Roadhog says, “Life is pain, so is death,” a line easily recognizable from, probably, a My Chemical Romance song.
Beneath Roadhog’s terrifying spiked armor is a molten core of sadness. An Overwatch fan named Yazzdonut searched that molten core for vestiges of Roadhog’s humanity and unearthed emo, teenaged Roadhog, complete with black nail polish, gagues, dyed hair, hoodies and his twiggy boyfriend, Junkrat. After their headcannon proliferated widely throughout the Tumblr realm, other fans followed, clearly resonating with emo, teen Roadhog. Below is a sampling of fans’ darling, one-man apocalypse, never again to be taken seriously outside of Warped Tour.