Weakest playable character in an RPG that isn't a joke character?

She's useless, but Roy is worse. He's a Lord who can't evolve that gets temporarily op with the binding blade and if you happen to use all of its uses (30 I think) he becomes useless again.

Speaking of FE, all the jeigans bar Seth and Titania are usually very, very bad. But well, there's a lot of bad chars in general in those games, too many to count. I remember the duo Micaiah Sothe was a mess, specially in a game with Ike and his troupe and all the op animal chars of that saga...
Roy sucks and definitely needs coddling. But, he's not weak. He still dishes out decent damage and completely FUCKS UP the final boss. He's a little Lord that can do big things.

Jagens are actually great units and very useful for large stretches of their games. While some of them are not good for endgame, that isn't exclusive to Jagens and more often than not they can actually be brought to endgame anyway and still swing around strong weapons for a chunk of damage. Just because they don't grow much and aren't viable for the entire game doesn't make them weak either.
 
Edward in IV is the correct answer.

And Kimahri of course.
This. He's barely in the battle long enough to be effective. One hit and he's hiding. Reappears for half a turn then hides again before you have a chance to heal him. I usually just kill him with Cecil so he stop stealing experience from him and Rydia.
 
I never had a problem using Aeris. She was weaker than the rest in attack, defense, and speed but she didn't hold me back or anything. I level grinded her with the rest of them for awhile and I still did pretty well. Plus the healing limit breaks are useful.
 
I'll give a Final Fantasy VI analysis since that's the most recent great RPG I played through with this problem. I'm gonna have to give this award to Umaro, a character so bad I'm not sure he falls into the category of 'joke character' or not. He has practically no story; he's an abominable snowman who wants to kill you, and then once you kick his ass he inexplicably decides he's your friend.

He has pretty good physical damage, however that's it. You can't control him, you can't teach him spells, he's completely unreliable and has no utility. There's moments his shtick is useful sure, like there is for anyone in this game, but they are super few and far between. He's just bad. Sorry buddy.

Runner up would be Cyan, which sucks because unlike Umaro, as a character Cyan is awesome.

He's got a fantastic backstory and maybe the biggest motivation of any of the cast members to really want to give Kefka what's coming to him. He also has a great design too; a chiseled, bad-ass samurai who has mastered the blade and seen some shit with it. The problem is, he sucks. Once you get to the point in the game where you have the option to not have Cyan in your party, you're at the point where he's fallen off a cliff in terms of viability. Bushido seems like it would be cool, but it's just annoying in reality. Wait 12-years to charge your attack to get a super underwhelming move that literally every character in the game can do better damage than instantly, oh boy! Thankfully, with the esper system in FFVI you can give Cyan some utility spells so he's not completely worthless, but boy is he close.
Cyan is far more useless. Takes forever to build up his magic stats to be worthwhile as a magic user, and his Bushido attacks take far too long to charge. Dispatch is the only useful one because it's near-instant and ignores defenses.

Umaro, however, is incredibly useful in the coliseum. Give him a Ribbon and a Rage Ring and watch him dominate.
 
Anyone who says Edward is wrong. He stays for a short ammount of time and can one shot the enemies he encounters. Meanwhile, Edge is pure trash unless you want to throw your whole inventory away.
 
I swear I couldn't find a way to make Dew and Patty useful on Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War. Thieves don't really have much to do in that game and they're both atrocious at combat. If they ever get better I wouldn't know because it wasn't worth the trouble getting them out of level 1.
 
Recently finished TMS#FE and Tsubasa felt like a completely useless character in the main party as you can just use any other character with items that do the same things has her healing & supportive spells.
 
I'll give a Final Fantasy VI analysis since that's the most recent great RPG I played through with this problem. I'm gonna have to give this award to Umaro, a character so bad I'm not sure he falls into the category of 'joke character' or not. He has practically no story; he's an abominable snowman who wants to kill you, and then once you kick his ass he inexplicably decides he's your friend.

He has pretty good physical damage, however that's it. You can't control him, you can't teach him spells, he's completely unreliable and has no utility. There's moments his shtick is useful sure, like there is for anyone in this game, but they are super few and far between. He's just bad. Sorry buddy.

Runner up would be Cyan, which sucks because unlike Umaro, as a character Cyan is awesome.

He's got a fantastic backstory and maybe the biggest motivation of any of the cast members to really want to give Kefka what's coming to him. He also has a great design too; a chiseled, bad-ass samurai who has mastered the blade and seen some shit with it. The problem is, he sucks. Once you get to the point in the game where you have the option to not have Cyan in your party, you're at the point where he's fallen off a cliff in terms of viability. Bushido seems like it would be cool, but it's just annoying in reality. Wait 12-years to charge your attack to get a super underwhelming move that literally every character in the game can do better damage than instantly, oh boy! Thankfully, with the esper system in FFVI you can give Cyan some utility spells so he's not completely worthless, but boy is he close.
Psycho Cyan thou
 
I consistently feel baffled by the people hating on Hope storywise. He is one of the few realistic child characters in JRPGs and has a solid character arc with good development. It helps that he is the best mage in the game and by extension probably the best character.

I remember Chrono Cross having some pretty bad party members notably Sneff, Luccia and Korcha.
 
Garnet in FFIX

Useless MP hog summons that do nothing but crap damage, doesn't have several important spells that Eiko has and at one point she basically gets perma silenced for a while

Why are you even here
 
Shana from The Legend of Dragoon. More of a healer but when you max out her Dragoon spirit levels you get some nasty attacks and she becomes OP.

 
He's Magikarp not really what the OP is saying. The on-foot archers and most of the tinydungeon party members that aren't Karna are what the topic's OP seems to be describing
Kiwi's not a joke character. He's a legit crappy unit.

A Shining Force joke character would be someone like Jogurt.

Kiwi is a really good choice for this topic, though. His only strongpoint is his physical defense. His attack sucks, and once you start getting hit by mages, he'll get OHKOed every fucking time.

Even his promoted form isn't great. He gets a fire-breathing attack that I don't remember being very powerful.
 
Does Hope count as a joke character?
Hope and Sazh are the only logically relatable characters in the whole game


Anyway this is kind of an odd topic because weak RPG characters are typically only weak because they're broken once you level them. But on that note:



Peco from Breath of Fire III

He isn't bad once you level him, but you have to actually make an effort because he starts at level 1 when you obtain him.
 


Not only is he not a joke character, he is the main character.

Roy is so bad in his own game (Fire Emblem 6). He might not be the worst (jury's still out for me lol), but he is the most disappointing. He can't promote and he does nothing., and you are required to bring him along.
 
Crabominable from Pokémon Sun/Moon

It has a unique Ice/Fighting typing, which could be a devastating offensive combo. However, while it does have a high Attack Stat, it is is way too slow, which means it'll often faint due to one of its many weaknesses before it gets an attack in. It doesn't even get any priority moves to make up for this, and it certainly doesn't have the defenses to withstand a hit or two.

For comparison's sake, Weavile (Ice/Dark) has a bit less Attack but has a lot more speed, access to the priority move Ice Shard, and Fighting coverage with the move Low Kick.

It gets even worse. In-game, you can only get Crabominable right before the Elite Four... and due to its typing and slow speed it's dead weight against at least 3 of the fights.
 
Does playing flashback Cloud as he fights a dragon with Sephiroth count? Guy does like 4 damage to it and dies instantly while sephy basically 1-2 shots it.

I wouldn't count it.

All the "fights" are just to show you how awesome and strong Sephiroth is. The discrepancy is just to highlight that even more. Plot device via game mechanics.
 
Quina - FF9

Or maybe it was because I never really understood the blue mage stuff.
I think Blue Magic basically works like the Enemy Skill materia from FFVII or Quistis's limit break from FFVIII. Certain enemies in the game world use BM and will eventually use that spell on you. If you kill the enemy and survive the battle you learn the spell.

If you don't bother to seek out Blue Magic or do the Frog mini-game Quina would seem kinda useless. On my first play through I basically ignored her like she was Cait Sith. On my second run through I was more of a completionist and I actually enjoyed Quina a fair bit. She's quite powerful.
 
Anyone who says Edward is wrong. He stays for a short ammount of time and can one shot the enemies he encounters. Meanwhile, Edge is pure trash unless you want to throw your whole inventory away.
If you're talking about the DS remake, you might be right, but the original version of him was complete crap. The only enemies Edward is one-shotting there are Imps and their 6 HP. Maybe Imp captains. He's somewhat more effective at the end of his arc and as a storyline character. And thankfully, they did him a solid in The After Years and made him worthwhile.

Edge on the other hand eventually got stronger than Kain and second only to Cecil in pure physical damage. He can steal all the Artemis arrows and Firebombs your heart desires, can be effective from the back row with boomerangs early on, can use mid-level all-enemy magic and instant escape magic, eventually gets the Masamune which casts Fast, can equip a large range of armor, and yes, if you so choose, throw your entire inventory away. Or you can buy up ninja stars from Kokkol's shop. He's still one of the most versatile FF characters ever.
 


Lymle from Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Aside from her awful, awful dialogue, she's the slowest character on the battlefield. Her physical attacks are slow and weak, her attack magic is very quickly outclassed by Myuria, and her healing magic is outclassed by Sarah. Even Edge can use basic healing techs, so she's pretty useless once the party expands.
 
Maybe in raw combat terms, sure, but the utility of a thief puts her ahead of a ton of units. Your team is better off fielding a non-fighter with utility over the twelfth kinda-good-fighter any day of the week.

FE has plenty of useless combat units you could list instead, though. Like Clive in Echoes, for a recent example, or to stick with FE6, Wendy.
IIRC didn't Wendy have the best growth rates amongst the Knights in FE6?
 


Sue from Grandia, effectively. There's no point to invest any magic in her, because

she leaves part of the way through the game anyway.
Nice thing about that though is
you get all her magic back and can redistribute to your party when she leaves.

My pick would be Rafa and Malak from the original Final Fantasy Tactics on PS1. By that point in time, you need to have a party that you can kick butt with, so the two new characters end up being too underpowered compared to the rest of your squad to bother with.
 
Pikachu in Pokemon Yellow.

As much as I loved it as a kid, it is god awful...

You can't evolve it unless you trade it. It has the same stats as a Pikachu from R/B, so there's nothing special about it battle wise. Well, being able to learn Thunderbolt is a plus I guess.

But yeah...Pikachu is easily the worst starter Pokemon in the series.
 
I consistently feel baffled by the people hating on Hope storywise. He is one of the few realistic child characters in JRPGs and has a solid character arc with good development. It helps that he is the best mage in the game and by extension probably the best character.

I remember Chrono Cross having some pretty bad party members notably Sneff, Luccia and Korcha.
Probably because the best child character in FF came a game before.