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Ultimis Dempsey Character Analysis: The Dis-illusionist

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Tank Dempsey: American hero. Hand him a loaded weapon, a good woman, and something to shoot at and he is happy. Enrage him and he will rip your guts out and use them as a bandolier.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

"Tank" Dempsey was an American Marine serving in the Pacific Front of World War II, as well as an operative for the OSS through their efforts to steal Group 935's secrets in the developing technological front of the war.

 

Little is known about his life before the war, and he would prefer to keep it that way. In terms of his family, he would only admit to having a 5 year-old daughter, a daughter he may never see again. Dempsey prefers the world see him as a muscled, masculine "Tank" of a man: A lover of a good fight and of a good woman. He is the embodiment of American male exceptionalism of the 20th Century.

 

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Now you know there is no before the war for Dempsey, and there is no after. There is only the legend of Tank Dempsey, and how he will win the war for the rest of us.

 

A majority of what we know of his background from Doctor Monty are stories of grandeur; Legends of the man they call "Tank". We don't even know for sure what his first name is.

 

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""Tank" Dempsey once bet fifty dollars that he could eat fifty hard-boiled eggs in fifteen minutes."

"It's is rumoured that "Tank" Dempsey's real name is Thomas. Ahh not true it's Ringo. Only joking (giggle)...or am I?"

""Tank" Dempsey holds the all-time record for one-arm pushups. Even in the universe where everyone only had one!"

"On over eighteen million occasions, Dempsey gave his life for the sake of his team. He's a bona fide american hero."

""Tank" Dempsey once caught his testicles in the springs of a bed frame. And he lived to tell the tale. So remember kids, keep your mattresses tight!"

"Dempsey can throw a grenade further, farther than the greatest professional baseball players. He attributed this skill to his solitary arm-training regime."

"The only time "Tank" Dempsey ever feared for his life was fifteen minutes after taking an ill-advised bet."

 

On the surface, there isn't much to see with "Tank" Dempsey, and it is perhaps for this reason he was such an exceptional leader of his fellow Marines as well as Ultimis. "Tank" would rather his allies see him as the legendary American badass who can lead them through the dark, instead of the man he truly is beneath the surface.

 

The Facade

 

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"Die again, maggot sacks!"

When Dempsey isn't screaming in jubilation at his own triumph over the undead, he tends to mutter softly to himself. Unlike the others of Ultimis, he tends to only express excitement or insults to those around him, rarely ever letting anyone in to his own thought process. On occasion, however, when he is alone, his true self tends to come to light.

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"Man... I wish we could replace Richtofen with a hot chick, I'm getting lonely here."

"Richtofen. I don't like him. I think I've seen him before  Shi No Numa , but... I can't quite remember. In fact, I can't really remember much at all from before..."

"Yeah, Nikolai is alright, I just think he is hiding something under all that booze."

"Ancient temples, Russian cosmodromes, being stuck in a dark closet with Richtofen. (Sighs) What an adventure."

"Sure was nice to hear the sound of a woman. Too bad I couldn't see who it was. Heh. Could've been someone famous...nah."

"I think Nikolai and Takeo are gonna get into it one of these days. I mean, how often can Takeo get away with calling him Nikki?"

"Richtofen is scheming something big, as usual. I bet it's no good for the rest of us. Better keep an eye on him."

"All I want is some down time, a pot of gold, and a hula girl. Mmmmmm... hula girl."

Another quirk of Ultimis Dempsey, is his complete destruction of the fourth wall on many, many occasions. Unlike even the knowledgeable Primis Richtofen, Dempsey is aware he is within the confines of a game.

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Ultimis Dempsey: Hey Treyarch, this guy's bugging me. How do I kick him from the game?

Primis Richtofen: Whoever you think you're talking to, Dempsey, I don't think they're listening.

What I would like to propose is that Dempsey's outward persona is merely a facade, an elaborate performance. In the time before 115 corrupted his mind, this performance was to boost the morale of his fellow Marines by portraying the legendary war hero, an inspiration to many young men in the Corps. After corruption, however, Dempsey began to believe he was trapped in some sort of simulation, a game, being manipulated by some higher power, the Player, and created by Treyarch. With this information in mind, Dempsey has been portraying the same character his own men were used to, and has gone to great lengths to appease and acknowledge his "fans". In Dempsey's mind, his persona is all that he controls, as his actions are controlled by this "Player".

 

Many of Dempsey's reflections harp on how he is perceived by the Player. In Call of the Dead while he is not playable, he attempts to formulate new catchphrases to stay original.

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Butt-Maggots? Nah... Freak balls boot-scrubber? Heh... nah that's lame. Zom-bitch? Nah, used that one already. Ooh, brain-dead ass-fodder. Heh, hm... nah, seems more like a catchphrase for Richtofen. Wonder how they'll get that bottle in here...

In Ascension, he comments on fan opinion of Takeo.

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"Everyone says Tak is boring - and, maybe he is - but you always need that one stale guy to make the rest of us a little bit cooler."

Not to mention, he constantly laments Treyarch's repeated usage of the same mechanics, including turning on the power and easter egg songs appearing in every map.

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"No power. How original."

"What... Are they gonna put a music easter egg in every map now?!"

"They hid yet another song. Where do they get these original ideas from? (Mumbles) Whatever..."

"Hey Treyarch, I solved your STUPID OBJECTIVE!"

"DAMN IT TREYARCH, YOU'RE FUCKING WITH THE STORYLINE AGAIN!"

By the time of Alpha Omega, Dempsey is incredibly disillusioned to the idea of collecting MacGuffins for the sake of saving he universe. He seems to miss the days when the Player was satiated by simple Zombie-killing, rather than elaborate quests.

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"Elemental shard... phase two of the plan... give me a break... "

All of this is suffice to say that Dempsey is simply playing along with a game controlled by outside forces. One might question why he wants to appease the Player, and question's Treyarch's choices so frequently. This leads to the potential Fridge Horror that he believes his world may cease to exist if the Player loses interest. Despite the feelings he may have about his situation or his life beyond the battlefield, he chooses to hide this behind a mask for the sake of those around him. Outside this persona, he is a deeply introspective person. That, or maybe, like us, he's just having a good time.

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Ah, mr. Psychologist is speaking. Brains to this thread, good analysis. We recently shortly spoke about this, and like I said knowing Dempsey is actually terrified, rather than being a badass makes him so much more likeable and relatable. I forgot about him breaking the Fourth Wall sometimes, and I like your explanation of it. I initially believed that Treyarch referred to their own sinister involvement in the story as well, as the Call of Duty Zombie Labs also refer to be a creation/part of this Treyarch organization. What I found fitting is that some conspiracy believers belief we are living in one big Holywood decor, an artificial world controlled by 'them', an unknown organisation (a.k.a. Treyarch). Everything we do in-game, would not only be based on real events, but actually happen in reality.

 

As you might know, I'm a Half Life player as well. A scrapped chapter in HL2 was gonna be the Manhack Arcade. In this by the Combine/aliens-controlled game arcade, citizens could control Manhacks, small flying droids sharp as blades. On the screen they played a game in which they would chase monsters in a labyrinth, and kill them to earn points. However, this game later appears to be reality, with Manhacks chasing and killing hiding rebels in the sewers. Unconsiouss, the people who play kill in reality. You could see us, CoDZ players, a bit like that: A higher force that 'plays' our characters into saving the Multiverse. I feel like Black ops I pretty much included this theme, with GkNova6, the zombies menu and the Zombie Labs trailers. Dempsey was the one who somehow understood this. However, later, this concept (if it were something already) was abandoned, so I guess it is for sure not canon. Your theory would better fit with the current situation.

 

 

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Please don't do this for the other characters, cause my heart might burst from happiness.

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So here’s the thing: Dempsey is low-key the main character of the whole series. 

 

Throughout all of WaW / Black Ops 1, although Richtofen is the main driving force behind plot events, the “relatable” character is Dempsey. The player has the same amount of information as Dempsey on what the grand scheme is. Both the player and Dempsey “have amnesia” or don’t really know why they’re going to these various places, or why they’re helping Richtofen, and you learn plot developments at the same time as Dempsey. Clearly the audience doesn’t have the same level of knowledge as Richtofen, so you default to identifying with the other 3 members of Ultimis, and frankly Dempsey’s the American in a very America-centric franchise. 

 

It’s like in the book “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.” Basically the “main character” of the book is a guy called MacMurphy, but the actual book is written from the perspective of a more minor character “Chief” who barely ever talks and is pretty much just observing MacMurphy. The same thing is going on here, where Richtofen is “the most important character,” but Dempsey is US. 

 

In case it never clicked for some of you, the Dempsey action figure is notably absent from the Origins end cutscene. That’s because the cutscene is “filmed” from the POV of Dempsey’s action figure’s eyes. 

 

Additionally, after they teleport to the mound in the Revelations end cutscene, the final shot is the camera pulling back and zooming out from Dempsey’s eyes. 

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1 hour ago, Electric Jesus said:

So here’s the thing: Dempsey is low-key the main character of the whole series. 

I dunno if I'd really call him the main character, I'd say everyone out of the group has gotten his chance to shine: Richtofen of course through most of the games, Takeo toward the end of Black Ops 1, Nikolai now. But yes, I agree, Tank certainly seems to be the "outsider", who knows what will happen with the next map though, maybe he will save the... whatever needs to be saved in the most "freedomish" way we could ever imagine.

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Like I said earlier, Dempsey is pretty much my least favourite character and I actually once discussed this subject with some friends and they all said that if they had to remove a character (in BO1), it'd be Dempsey. But I could definately see why people see him as the Main Character, espessially after your reply, EJ. Rad's story also makes me to become more interested in him.

 

All characters have a certain charm that fits with their at the time national stereotype: Nikolai the drunk, brute Soviet, Richthofen the psychopathic yet intelligent Nazi and Takeo wise and quiet, like a Samurai. I felt like Dempsey was just an action-movie hero, without any bad sides or originality (Hell, even Takeo could be weird when he talked about monkeys). But yes, I guess you could say he was the most relatable. In my opinion, he is the normal one that makes the others look cool.

2 hours ago, Lenne said:

Takeo toward the end of Black Ops 1

Could you explain?

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4 hours ago, anonymous said:

Like I said earlier, Dempsey is pretty much my least favourite character and I actually once discussed this subject with some friends and they all said that if they had to remove a character (in BO1), it'd be Dempsey. But I could definately see why people see him as the Main Character, espessially after your reply, EJ. Rad's story also makes me to become more interested in him.

I actually held the same opinion for years, I just didn't get why people like him so much. I was usually annoyed when I was stuck playing as him because he was so loud.

 

But I think his BO4 iteration, and what we know about Primis Dempsey has made him way more likeable in my eyes and I look forward to playing as him now. His perspective is pretty unique because his goal isn't power or saving the universe, it seems to be just to follow orders, get the mission done, and look cool doing it. The details aren't important to him, just the end goal. He reminds me a lot of Doom Guy in that way.

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8 hours ago, anonymous said:

Could you explain?

Takeo seemed to get more of a spotlight back in the day, with him growing older between two maps. ( I dunno which ones) That was due to the time traveling, right? But regardless, Takeo up until that point was the most hated, out of the group, so I could imagine Treyarch wanting to do something about that, by making him more interesting.

 

Now I feel like I could be completely wrong on this one, it was either Nik, Tank, or Tak, but I think it was Takeo, who seemed to know that Richtofen was going to do something terrible by the time they were at Ascension? (Like I said absolutely not sure on that one.) I know Dempsey had that thought (While using the pap machine) but disregarded it right after.)

But I am sure about his qoute at the very end of the moon easter egg, saying that he will destroy group 935. etc. Which did lead to speculation of him playing a bigger role in the future games.

 

Point is, Treyarch tried to give them all a chance to shine, but like so often with this stupid mode, the execution is and wasn't always the best

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21 hours ago, Electric Jesus said:

So here’s the thing: Dempsey is low-key the main character of the whole series. 

This is why Nikolai taking over from Richtofen as the group leader felt a bit off to me. Considering all this info, i think Dempsey would’ve been the more natural choice after Richtofen.

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1 hour ago, Spider3000 said:

This is why Nikolai taking over from Richtofen as the group leader felt a bit off to me. Considering all this info, i think Dempsey would’ve been the more natural choice after Richtofen.

Thinking about this, I think it was pure coincidence Nikolai was the last soul to be 'harvested' in Black Ops 3. This actually led to these present events. 

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