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Sadie Walked So Lucia Could Run: A Look At Rockstar’s Strongest Female Character

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at York U chapter.

(This article contains spoilers for Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2)

With the sixth instalment of Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto series on the horizon, fans have anxiously awaited details about the game. However, the news that one of the two main protagonists will be a Latina woman has stirred controversy among fans, with some claiming that Rockstar is “forcing diversity.” 

A playable woman is a first for Rockstar. However, this is not the first time one of Rockstar’s female characters has incited backlash with her mere existence. Red Dead Redemption 2’s Sadie Adler sparked similar allegations of tokenism. Regardless, Sadie develops over the course of the game into a crucial and complex figure not defined by a stock formula for strong female characters. If Lucia is given half the treatment that Mrs. Adler was, GTA VI players should have little to complain about. 

Sadie is introduced in the game’s first mission when she is forced to join the Van der Linde gang for survival after the murder of her husband and the loss of her home. 

She (understandably) spends the first two chapters grieving her husband and avoiding much interaction with the gang aside from Abigail Roberts. 

As time progresses, Mrs. Adler adapts to the outlaw way of life, becoming one of the most essential characters in the Van der Linde gang. Sadie is primarily responsible for saving the lives of the non-fighting gang members after a heist goes wrong, breaking John out of prison, as well as saving Abigail and the rest of the Marston family alongside Arthur Morgan when Dutch — the gang’s leader — refuses to do so. She is ultimately the one to track down Micah Bell in 1907, and plays a major role in his demise to avenge Arthur. 

Mrs. Adler is virtually the only adult character to begin the game as an innocent. However, the desire to avenge her husband and herself corrupts her as the game progresses, a fact she acknowledges and accepts. While Sadie is undoubtedly willing to risk her life to save others, she is also not above risking the lives of others to advance her ultimate goal. Juxtaposed with Arthur, who maintains that “revenge is a fool’s game,” Sadie’s motivations and morality set her apart from the other protagonists. In a story defined by redemption, Sadie Adler is the only hero who does not actively seek it.

Despite a sense of recklessness and impulsivity that rivals even Micah, Sadie is not treated as “crazy” like angry female characters so often are. She is entitled to a moral greyness and complexity that makes her one of Rockstar’s greatest characters. Sadie is selfish, rash, vengeful and abrasive. She is also kind, talented, fierce and loyal, all traits that help her survive as a female gunslinger in 1899.

Given the uphill battle of earning respect as a woman in a male-dominated field (a struggle mirrored by women in the video game industry), Mrs. Adler makes it a point to defy gender roles early on in the story, choosing to wear pants instead of skirts. Sadie is aware of her disadvantaged position as a woman in 1899, but refuses to let it define her, demanding equal rights and responsibilities as the gang’s men. 

What makes Sadie Adler so great is that she is a strong character who happens to be female. Her gendered experiences are not neglected, but she is not defined by them either. If Sadie is any indication of how Rockstar intends on writing female characters going forward, Lucia is in good hands. I, for one, look forward to playing as her. 

Chance Garratt-Dahan is a part-time writer at Her Campus at York University. She writes about topics concerning students such as entertainment and academics. Chance is a second-year philosophy student with a minor in political science at York University. In her free time, Chance enjoys reading fantasy novels, watching stand-up comedy, and caring for her two dogs.