Nathan Drake (character)

Nathan Drake (character)
Nathan Drake
A video game screenshot of a young man standing resolutely and holding a gun by his right side. He is wearing a dark shirt, unbuttoned slightly so that a white shirt is seen underneath, blue jeans, and a brown belt with a silver buckle. He has leather straps around his shoulders and a leather band around his left arm. His hair is black, he has a slight beard. Behind him is a well-lit room with some indistinct appliances and scattered items, as well as a chair and a large window letting in light.
Nathan Drake as he appears in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Series Uncharted
First game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (2007)
Created by Amy Hennig
Voiced by Nolan North

Nathan "Nate" Drake is the fictional protagonist of the Uncharted video game series, developed by Naughty Dog. He is a playable character in Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and appears in the motion comic prequel series Uncharted: Eye of Indra. He is voiced by actor Nolan North, who influenced Drake's personality by ad-libbing segments of the character's dialogue.

Naughty Dog based Drake's appearance and personality on daredevil Johnny Knoxville, actor Harrison Ford, and the heroes of pulp magazines, novels, and films. To make him relatable, the character was outfitted in jeans and a t-shirt, and given an "everyman" persona; he is strong-willed, and often jokes and quips. The designers focused on giving him realistic reactions to his environment; for example, he stumbles while running, barely clears objects during leaps, and recognizes the absurdity of the situations in which he finds himself.

Nathan Drake has been called the mascot of the PlayStation 3 game console, and is increasingly identified with the platform. His design and personality have drawn comparisons to other video game and film characters, such as Lara Croft and Indiana Jones. Many reviewers have called Drake a likable and believable character, and have noted that he is a rare example of a physically attractive character who is not exploited by designers as a sex object.


Character design

Illustrator and designer Kory Heinzen worked on pre-visualization, concept and character design on the video game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, developed by Naughty Dog.[1] Heinzen's initial concept differed little from the finished character. The production staff drew inspiration from the pulp adventure genre when creating the video games in the Uncharted series, and based Drake on the stereotypical characters of adventure films and novels, giving him wit, resourcefulness, and strong principles.[2] Naughty Dog wanted to highlight Drake's personality through his interactions with the environment during gameplay. To do this, they developed a wide range of animations for Drake, allowing him to display reactions and his snarky disposition in context.[3] These animations were designed to be fluid and believable; they removed any animation that did not promote this fluidity or took a large amount of time to execute.[4] The blended animation system in the game, with more than 30 animations comprising one movement,[4] was implemented to make Drake a more relatable character.[4]

A man, wearing a white shirt and black jacket, looks towards the camera. His hair is combed back and stubbles of hair are on his chin and above his lips.
Daredevil Johnny Knoxville served as the model for Drake's appearance.

The Naughty Dog staff looked to several sources in creating Drake. His appearance and charisma were based on actor and daredevil Johnny Knoxville.[5] Lead game designer Richard Lemarchand wanted Drake to reflect the "coolness and goodness" he saw in Knoxville.[6] Series writer Amy Hennig described Drake as a gritty, charming mixture of actors Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis,[7] with additional influence coming from romantic action-adventure heroes, including Cary Grant:

... we even went back to the earliest movie serials, movies from the '30s and the '50s, and the more recent revivals of the action-adventure genre in the '80s, and even recently with movies like National Treasure. There are certain traits that a lot of those characters have in common – that irreverent, roguish sense of humor, that charm.[8]

Lemarchand listed comic characters Doc Savage and Tintin, as well as Die Hard protagonist John McClane, as inspirations for the character. Drake's physical prowess was modeled on that of Savage, and his personality inspired by the vibrant color and globetrotting identity of Tintin.[9]

Naughty Dog wanted Drake to embody the everyman archetype. E. Daniel Arey, former Naughty Dog creative director, stated that "there is a fine line between jerk and lovable rogue", and that they developed Drake to be more human and accessible. "If a hero constantly shows their human side," said Arey, "we relate and forgive any seeming overconfidence because we’ve all been there."[10] Neil Druckmann, lead designer of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, explained that Drake was meant to react to situations in the manner that the average player might.[11] Hennig commented:

... when we set out to do Uncharted, we decided we wanted to tackle one of these beloved action-adventure games in the spirit of this whole tradition. We knew that in order to pull it off, we had to have a hero who was completely relatable, just a regular guy. So when people saw him and said "Why do I want to play a guy in t-shirt and jeans" that was a deliberate move on our part, to say look, he's just a guy. He's just like you and me.[12]

Josh Scherr, leader of the Drake's Fortune story sequence team, said that they created Drake as an "ordinary guy" with no special powers. Instead, Drake became visibly nervous at times, barely cleared objects while jumping, and stumbled while running.[13] The characterizations were meant to show Drake as a frail character.[2] He is not a master of hand-to-hand combat, and throws punches without style or skill. Sam Thompson, producer of Among Thieves, described Drake's martial arts abilities as "fallible."[14] Sony Entertainment of America line producer Sam Thompson mused that Naughty Dog had created iconic characters before, including Crash Bandicoot. With Nathan Drake, however, the company wanted to produce a more average character, one who did not possess the same amount of confidence and who was more realistic and humble.[15]

Nolan North, the voice actor who played Drake, had a large role in defining the character's physical and vocal reactions. In the Uncharted series, the actors were used for motion capture, and acted as if performing in a movie. Motion capture was done on a soundstage, and the dialog recorded during this process was used in the game.[16] North was allowed to ad-lib dialog and insert aspects of his own personality into the character.[17] In naming the character, the development team considered many different choices, including Ethan, Samuel, and John. Matthew Drake was seriously contemplated, but received a poor reaction from those it was presented to. Eventually, Naughty Dog settled on the name Nathan for its ability to be shortened to Nate, and the perception that it sounded historical.[18] Drake's character design changed little between Drake's Fortune and Among Thieves.[19]



Drake has a distinct personality, as the creators did not want him to appear as a caricature or "cardboard cutout".[7] Hennig constantly elaborated Drake's personality through in-game dialog and interactions with other characters, rather than exclusively through cutaway scenes. Drake reacts to events in a human-like way, often commenting on the absurdity or difficulty of his situation.[16] While traveling through levels, Drake frequently makes sarcastic quips and taunts.[16] Matt Casamassina of IGN commented on the character's interactions during gameplay that reveal Drake's nature: "it's lighthearted and amusing, but it also demonstrates that Nate is aware of how absurd his predicaments sometimes are. It's a small, unimportant communication, but it makes sense that the two would behave exactly as they do."[16]

Drake says what he is thinking aloud, a feature designed to correlate with the likely thoughts and reactions of the player.[8] Amy Hennig called Drake a "Die Hard guy that gets in there and just takes care of the situation; 'the fly in the ointment'."[20] Drake's voice actor North was instructed to imbue his own personality into the character.[21]

Outward appearance

Drake's outward appearance is fairly generic,[15] consisting of a simple white shirt and blue jeans in the first game,[22] and a brown henley in the second. He was deliberately costumed in a simple shirt and jeans to provide a "blank slate" on which the everyman persona could be imposed. The programmers designed a layered-animation system to make Drake's motions realistic by blending multiple poses and reactions together.[2] This allowed a complex facial and wrinkle mapping system, which provided Drake more human emotional reactions.[2] Drake's physique is fairly fit, but not overly muscular.[23] Drake's appearance underwent minor changes in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Hennig stated that Drake was skinnier than intended in the first game, and thus the designers bulked him up for the second.[20]

Drake's shirt is always tucked into his pants on only one side, an attribute which commentators have labeled the "half-tuck".[24] The term, first coined by video game designer Tim Schafer, led to Naughty Dog altering Drake's appearance to have his shirt almost tucked in from the front, and half tucked in at the back, an inside joke Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells labeled a "three-quarters-tuck."[24] The half-tuck was part of a larger effort to ensure Drake's design was asymmetrical.[24] Tim Schafer commented "It was all super next-gen, but the most next-gen thing about it to me was Drake's shirt. Check it out: Somehow it's tucked in, and yet not tucked in, at the very same time. Of all the technical marvels contained in Uncharted, this was the one that really mystified me."[25]


Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

A bearded man, wearing green shirt and doublons, stands with his hands on his hips. The sea is visible in the background. A cuirass (metal armor) protects his upper torso.  He is also wearing a green hat with a red rose and a white ruff on his neck.  A rapier hangs ready at his left hip.  Behind him on his right, a man is walking by, carrying a laden rucksack over his shoulder.
Nathan Drake is portrayed as the descendant of explorer and buccaneer Sir Francis Drake.

In the 2007 video game Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Drake tracks a treasure located on a remote tropical island. As the game opens, Drake, accompanied by reporter Elena Fisher, recovers the coffin of his ancestor Sir Francis Drake, which he located from coordinates inscribed on a family heirloom: a ring Drake wears around his neck.[26] The coffin contains Sir Francis Drake's diary, which gives the location of El Dorado. Pirates attack and destroy Drake's boat, but Drake's friend Victor "Sully" Sullivan rescues the two. When Sully and Drake follow the diary to the indicated spot, they learn that El Dorado is a large golden idol that the Spanish had tried to remove from the island centuries ago.[27] After finding a U-boat, mercenaries led by Gabriel Roman intercept Drake, Fisher and Sully. Sully is shot but Drake manages to escape to an island where Sir Francis Drake's diary claims the idol is located.[28]

On the way to the island, anti-aircraft fire forces Elena and Drake to bail out of the airplane and they are separated. Drake heads toward an old Spanish fort to find Elena. Though briefly captured, Drake and Elena reunite and flee to the old customs house on the island. There they find that Sully has survived his gunshot wound.[29] Drake discovers that the idol is located near the custom house, and finds and rescues Sully. Drake realizes that the idol is cursed, and that it turned the Spanish and Kriegsmarine searching for it into zombified monsters.[30] Drake attempts to stop Roman from removing the idol from the island, and arrives in time to see Atoq Navarro, a man hired by Roman, find the statue. Navarro tricks Roman into becoming cursed.[31] Drake then jumps onto the statue and rides it as it is airlifted onto a boat in the bay. There he defeats Navarro and manages to sink the idol to the bottom of the ocean.[32] Sully arrives and Elena and Drake leave the island with several chests of treasure, after displaying affection towards each other.[33]

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Drake returns as the protagonist of the second game in the series in 2009. A wealthy benefactor hires Drake, Harry Flynn, and Chloe Frazer to steal a small lamp from a Turkish museum. Following the first game, Drake and Chloe develop a romantic relationship. Once in the museum, Flynn betrays Drake and Drake is imprisoned. Drake theorizes that the true goal of the theft was to discover the location of Marco Polo's lost fleet.[16] Flynn brings the information obtained from resin found in the lamp to his employer, war criminal Zoran Lazarevic, who seeks the Cintamani Stone that the fleet was supposedly transporting. Once Chloe and Sully secure Drake's release, Drake follows Lazarevic, and discovers that the fleet did not possess the stone, but had clues to the location of Shambhala.[34] Drake travels to Nepal to find the next clue, although Lazarevic has initiated a civil war in the region in order to find the temple containing the clue. In the city, he finds Elena and her cameraman Jeff, the latter of which is executed by Lazarevic.

Drake pursues Lazarevic and then discovers the key to Shambhala, but the train they are traveling on explodes, leaving Drake stranded. Drake loses consciousness after finding the key (a Kīla) and awakens in a Tibetan village. Here, he finds Karl Schäfer, a German who had led a Schutzstaffel expedition to Shambhala, though he had killed them all to stop the Nazis from obtaining the power in the city. Tenzin, a man who speaks no English, leads Drake through an ice cave, where they are attacked by giant horned monsters. Lazaravic attacks the village, kidnapping Schäfer. Drake and Elena track Lazaravic to a monastery, where they find the entrance to Shambhala. Once inside, they discover that the monsters are guardians of the city. Drake and Elena are apprehended by Lazaravic but escape him when the guardians attack. Drake confronts Lazaravic at the Tree of Life, the sap of which comprises the Cintamani stone.[35] Drake wounds Lazaravic, leaving the guardians to kill him, and returns to the village, where he and Elena kiss and begin a relationship.

Uncharted: Eye of Indra

Uncharted: Eye of Indra is a 2009 prequel series of motion comics. Their events occur before the first game, but the series was released after the second. In order to raise the money to find Sir Francis Drake's coffin, Nathan Drake works for an American turned Indonesian crime boss named Daniel Pinkerton.[36] Drake seeks the fabled Eye of Indra in India, where he meets Eddy Raja – who appears in the first game – and Drake becomes romantically involved with Raja's sister, Rika Raja.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

2011's third installment of the franchise, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, focuses on Drake's relationship with his mentor and father figure, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, and has him searching for a legendary lost city that will ultimately take him to the Arabian Peninsula and the vast wasteland of the Rub' al Khali Desert, also known as the Empty Quarter (Said legendary lost city has been known by various names, including “Iram of the Pillars” and the “Atlantis of the Sands”).

Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Drake returns in 2012's Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which will be released on Sony's upcoming PlayStation Vita. The game's events will take place sometime before those of Drake's Fortune, though developers have stated that it is not a prequel to Drake's Fortune but rather a separate original story.[37]

Cultural impact

Merchandise and promotion

In 2007, Sony placed promotional material in Empire Magazine stressing Drake's everyman personality and showcasing his similarity to adventure film characters.[38] Naughty Dog released an airsoft replica of Nathan Drake's gun, a Beretta 92FS.[39]

Shortly before the 2009 release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, four urban vinyl toys based on Nathan Drake were released. Erick Scarecrow, founder of ESC Toys, designed the dolls in a number of colors; only 2500 were released worldwide.[40] Reviewers were not enthusiastic about the design, and Luke Plunkett of Kotaku commented, "while none of them have names, it appears there's Drake, Hellboy Drake, Berlin Nightclub Drake and Radioactive Drake."[41]


Nathan Drake has attracted mainly positive reviews, many focusing on his likability.[42] Tom Cross of Gamasutra called Drake a "lovable jerk" who is "light, flippant, and just plain fun",[43] calling him a perfect caricature of a scoundrel.[44] Stephen Totilo of Kotaku remarked that "the short take is that Nathan Drake has attitude without being a jerk, and he cheerfully but woefully gets in over his head. This helps make him charming rather than annoying."[10] Comparing Drake to a similar character, Matt Casamassina at IGN claimed, "Nathan Drake, the hero in Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2, is more realistic, funny, charming, likable and altogether human in 30 minutes than Leon S. Kennedy is through an entire career of Resident Evil games."[16] Rush Frushtick at UGO admitted that Drake may appear to be "a dick", but that he was "a likable dick".[45] GamesRadar listed Nathan as one of the 25 best new characters of the decade, contrasting him with characters like Halo protagonist Master Chief and Marcus Fenix of the Gears of War series in that unlike them, Drake is never in control of the situation.[46]

Commenting on Drake's "everyman" persona, Tom Hoggins of the Daily Telegraph called the character's vulnerability "endearing",[47] while Chad Sapieha of The Globe and Mail labeled him "one of the most expressive video game characters ever created."[48] However, Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica criticized the "everyman" persona, stating that Drake was like numerous other characters, and lacked individuality.[49] Develop's Owain Bennallack further criticized Drake's blandness, doubting whether a player could adequately describe him as a character.[50] Dan Hsu of Bitmob wrote that, though other characters like Master Chief may stand out more, Drake came across as an "old pal".[8]

Drake's physical attractiveness has been another area of commentary, with at least one reviewer declaring a man crush for him.[51] Drake has been described as "dreamy",[52] and a "handsome, charismatic hero."[16] Claudia Black, voice of Chloe Frazer from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, admitted having a crush on Drake as well.[53] Drake has been cited as an example of a character who, while attractive, was not designed to be a sex object. One commentator pointed out, "Nathan Drake is one of the few male video game protagonists not portrayed in a degrading, sexual manner."[54] Steve McGarvey of GameSpy wrote that Drake was "hardly oozing with machismo compared to the likes of most gaming protagonists".[55] Drake's attractiveness drew criticism from Meagan Marie of Gameinformer, who stated that he did not "stand out much among the crowd of other ideally proportioned and intentionally unblemished gaming icons."[56] GameDaily named Drake the third greatest gaming hunk.[57] GamesRadar named Drake "Mister 2007", stating that he was not picked just because they could "stare at his ass for hours on end", but because he is heroic and has a "winning attitude".[58]

The good sales of the Uncharted series and the growing identification of Drake with the PlayStation 3 console have led some to claim he is now a de facto mascot for the PlayStation 3. Adam Hartley at TechRadar UK claimed, that "throaty-voiced protagonist Nathan Drake is the rightful heir to the 'PlayStation Hero' crown",[59] while Now Gamer claimed Drake as the new PlayStation 3 poster boy.[60] Drake was nominated for the "Most Compelling Character" award at the 2009 Inside Gaming Awards.[61]

Comparisons to other characters

Nathan Drake has been compared to several other video game and film characters, most notably video game adventurer Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider franchise and film character Indiana Jones, due to the similarities between the characters and the narratives they appear in. Johnny Minkley of Eurogamer and Lee Ferran of ABC News called these associations "obvious" and "unavoidable".[62][63] In fact, Drake has been called a mixture of the two characters.[64] Drake was hailed as the "new Lara Croft" after the Uncharted series sold well,[65] and his similarity to Croft has earned him the moniker "bloke raider".[66] Michael Owen-Brown of the The Advertiser remarked that Drake distinguished himself from Croft with his wit,[67] while director of the Uncharted series Bruce Straley claimed that Drake had equaled Croft in popularity.[68] CBS drew a strict distinction between Indiana Jones and Drake, pointing out that while Jones acts altruistically, Drake is in it for the profits.[69] Avi Arad, producer of a planned Uncharted film, drew a similar conclusion, remarking that while Jones was always good, Drake is not necessarily the good guy.[70] Designer Neil Druckmann stated that he believes Drake stands apart from Jones and Croft.[71] Other reviewers have compared Drake to different characters, including Jack Colton from the film Romancing the Stone.[72] North, who plays Drake, also voices The Prince in the 2008 video game Prince of Persia, and comparisons have been made between the two characters. The Prince has been described as a rougher, more abrasive form of Nathan Drake.[43]


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  26. ^ Nathan: Don't I wish. No, this was, ah... this was Francis Drake's ring. I, y'know, kind of inherited it. Elena: "Sic parvis magna"? Nathan: "Greatness from small beginnings" – it was his motto. Check out the date. Elena: 29th of January, 1596. Nathan: One day after he supposedly died. Elena: Wait, what are these numbers, right here? Nathan: Coordinates. Right off the coast of Panama. Elena: Oh, so that's how you found the coffin. Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
  27. ^ Nathan: Of course. 'El Dorado' – 'the Golden Man'! Sully, it wasn't a city of gold, it was this. It was a golden idol. [...] I bet the Spanish dragged it out on cut logs. Huh... we're four hundred years late for this party. Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
  28. ^ Nathan: UK2642... you got that? [...] It's Kriegsmarine coordinates. I think I know where the Spanish took El Dorado. [...] The problem is, so do the bastards who killed Sully. Damn it! If the Spanish found the treasure, they had to've moved it there, to that island. And Drake followed 'em. Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
  29. ^ Elena: He's alive. Nathan: Huh. Elena: I don't know, Nate... I mean, how much do you trust this guy? It's not exactly like they're holding him at gunpoint. Nathan: I know. Yeah, it seems weird. But no. Sully's a lot of things, but he's not a back-stabber. Which way were they headed? Elena: Uh... North-ish. Yeah, towards the mountains. Nathan: Okay, it's gotta be the monastery. Let's go. Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
  30. ^ Nathan: We gotta stop 'em, Sully. They don't know what they're dealing with! Sully: What are you -? Nathan: I don't know how, but that statue destroyed the whole colony, and it killed the Germans too. [...] Sully: You wanna tell me what the hell's going on!? Nathan: Drake didn't want to get the treasure off the island, Sully. He was trying to stop it from leaving! Sully: What? Nathan: It's cursed or something. Sully: Oh, Nate, for God's sake... Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
  31. ^ Nathan: Navarro, that thing wiped out an entire colony. You don't know what you're doing. Navarro: Wrong. I'm the only person on this island who knows what the hell he's doing! [...] You are so pathetic, all of you scrambling around for your petty treasures. Do you have any idea what this is worth, to the right buyer? Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
  32. ^ Nathan: Elena! Oh God... Elena. C'mon. Can you stand? Elena: I'm okay... I'm okay. Nathan: Are you all right? Elena: Oh – Nate! Nathan turns to see Navarro standing up. Nathan: Watch out. Nathan pushes the helicopter off the side of the platform. Nathan: Adios, asshole. Navarro: Huh? The rope connecting the statue and the helicopter is tangled in his legs and drags him across the floor and into the sea. Elena: Oh my – Sully's boat arrives, and they wave to him. Elena: Oh... Quite a day. Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
  33. ^ Nathan: Sorry you didn't get your story. Elena: Ah, that's all right. There'll be other stories. You still owe me one. Nathan: I'm good for it. Naughty Dog. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (19 November 2007)
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  35. ^ Nathan: There's not actually a Stone, it's the resin. The sap from the Tree of Life Naughty Dog. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. (Sony Computer Entertainment). PlayStation 3. (13 October 2009)
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