Bleak is the real villain of Elden Ring
The Elden Ring is full of crooks, serial killers, and tyrants, but by far its worst offenders may actually be player characters.
Elden Ring is full of characters with gray moral codes, but its real villain might just be the Defiler. Elden Ring is set in a world where life is at stake and safety is uncertain. Most characters put their own needs first, out of a desire for power or outright need. The player character and protagonist, Tarnished, are no exception - but their acts of violence are often motivated more by ambition than survival.
Most of the Elden Ring characters are not what they seem, often disguising themselves as Tarnished allies before exposing their selfish motives. Others are downright sinister, destroying defilers or simply attacking them when they see them. But even alongside the Elden Ring's toughest bosses and most menacing foes, the Tarnished can be the greatest criminals, as their actions have the most far-reaching and disastrous consequences of any Elden Ring character.
Elden Ring's Tarnished Is The True Villain Because Of Unnecessary Violence
The events that kick off the Elden Ring storyline begin with Queen Malika's shattering of the Elden Ring, plunging the world into a long war between the demigods. The feuding demigods have reached a stalemate when the player takes control after 5000 years. The player then carves a violent path through The Lands Between, resurrecting a Otherwise it may be a forgotten war. The demigods may have let it come, but the Defiler slaughtered countless others: the neutral Raya Lucaria students, the Elden Ring's two different types of wanderer Albinaurics, the isolated Fire Giant. Even if the player tries to keep the peace, many innocents must be killed to make progress, leaving the Defiler with blood on their hands.
Every Elden Ring Ending Still Makes The Tarnished A Villain
Elden Ring has multiple story paths, but no happy ending. Tarnished can choose to defile the world, or burn it all to the ground. They can choose to break the curse of immortality, causing more deaths than they already have. Or they can simply restore the old, chaotic order and do nothing. Tarnished can also help Ranni succeed Marika as ruler at the end of Age of Stars. This is often seen as a "good" ending to Elden Ring, but it's not quite as boasted. Ranni vows to create a world cold and lonely and uncertain, where all life is as far away as the stars. No matter how the game ends, the world will not be better off by the Defiler's meddling.
Elden Ring suggests that the Defiler's misconduct may have been guided by the machinations of an omnipotent god. The Great Will, responsible for creating the Ring of Elden and the Graceful Directions that drive the Defiler's course of action, sends its message through two fingers, imploring the Defiler to restore the Golden Order. Many in the Lands Between resent the Greater Will's rule and feel that the Two Fingers have lost their authority since the shattering. For this reason, many Tarnished brethren stand in the path of the player characters, accusing them of being blinded by unchecked ambition.
The final ending option further illustrates the dangers of ambition. If the player completes the Golden Mask quest, they can choose to end all conflicts in the Age of Order ending. However, this comes at the cost of all divine and human ambitions - except those of the player character, who continues to rule as Elden Lord. Whether the Tarnished's wrongdoing was the result of Greater Will's invisible hand, their own ambitions, or a combination of the two, the results were disastrous for nearly every main and supporting character in Elden Ring, making The player character Elden Ring becomes the real villain.