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Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

Team Fortress 2 Backstory Explained

Team Fortress 2 Characters

So Team Fortress 2 came out in 2007 and everyone was like: 




Team Fortress 2 (TF2) is an online player versus player (pvp) game centering around the never-ending war between two companies known as RED and BLU, with two groups of mercenaries fighting against each other for control of one thing – a useless plot of land with a bunch of gravel.  

The game itself doesn’t really have much of a story to it as the only way to really play the game is by playing with other players and fighting the players on the opposite team. However, despite that, there is a very deep and rich lore and story to the universe of TF2. Which is what I will be focusing on today.  

If you want to play the game yourself, please do, it’s free and runs relatively well on most computers. And if you want to read any of the supplementary materials of where I got most of my information from, the website has an entire section with the comics I am about to talk about. This is not a review on the game itself, moreso me elaborating why I adore this series. 

With that being said, let’s take a deep dive into the clusterfuck that is the story of this game. 


So in 1822, three sons were born to a wealthy Englishman named Zepheniah Mann. Zepheniah had a company known as Mann Co. which sold munitions and hats. 

These sons were Redmond, Blutarch, and Gray. Redmond and Blutarch were by all accounts idiots and when they grew up they convinced their father to buy a bunch of land in New Mexico. Turns out, this land was completely useless and there was nothing to gain from it. But after Zepheniah Mann died, he left his two sons the land to share while leaving the rest of his assets to his handmaiden Elizabeth and his business partner Barnabus Hale. Hale took ownership of Mann Co. and Elizabeth was given a large cache of Australium, a powerful element only found in Australia that is basically the deus ex-machina of the story. It can extend a person’s life span, make them extremely intelligent, and do a bunch of borderline magic shit. 


“What about Gray?!” We’ll get back to him. 



Redmond and Blutarch decided that instead of being normal human beings and just selling the land or, hell, even sharing it, they hired a bunch of mercenaries to take the land by force. And thus began the Gravel Wars. However, nobody was really able to make any ground and all of these fights kept ending in stalemates.  

However, about 40 or so years later, Blutarch Mann hired a man named Radigan Conagher to build him a life extending machine so he could outlive his brother. Radigan agreed but, later on, Elizabeth convinced him to build a life extending machine for Redmond as well in exchange for Australium.  

If it isn’t clear, Blutarch’s and Redmond’s names correspond to the companies known as BLU (Builder’s League United) and RED (Reliable Excavation Demolition) and they own their own individual companies, which are tied to Mann Co.  

A few more decades later, in 1968, begins the events of the game with the current series of mercenaries us fans all know and love: the Heavy, the Scout, the Engineer, the Medic, the Demoman, the Spy, the Pyro, the Sniper, and the Soldier.  

In the context of the game, the players select their characters and fight on the RED or BLU teams, and the mercenary classes look the same on both teams. However, in the story, we don’t know why they look the same. 

When I talk about the characters, I will be shortening their titles to remove the “the” from them for ease of writing. 


So let’s introduce our colorful cast of characters! 


Heavy is the nickname given to the Heavy Weapons Guy. He is a large and tall man who carries around a massive machine gun that costs $400,000 to fire for 12 seconds. He is a stoic and seemingly unintelligent middle aged Russian who cares for his teammates and is a man of few words. And when I say “seemingly unintelligent,” I mean he’s actually a really smart guy, it’s just that English isn’t his first language.  

Scout is a Bostonian who is in his late 20s, and loves to run. As his class suggests, he is meant to go ahead and scout out what’s going on, while also zooming around and carrying a shotgun and a bat with him. He’s got a bit of an ego and is a loudmouth, but he’s genuine and nice when he wants to be. He is also very dedicated to impressing and wooing the team’s supervisor, Miss Pauling. He also loves his mom a lot. 

Engineer is a Texan who is in his 40s, and very much lives up to his name. He is a very crafty and smart guy who routinely makes sentries and teleporters for the team to use. He’s clever and polite, like any southern gentleman, but he can be brutally honest and isn’t afraid to deal out his own fair share of hits. He’s also able to play the guitar. 

Medic is a middle aged German who stole a skeleton from a patient and because of that, lost his medical license. However, despite all that, he is still a doctor and a brilliant one at that. He made a deal with the Devil, and it’s implied that he did so to gain immense levels of medical knowledge and ability. Seeing how he can bring people back to life (that did actually happen), I suppose he got what he paid for. Medic is pretty much what you would imagine a mad doctor would be like, though he does care for his teammates. 

Demoman is a Scottish man in his 30s who lost an eye thanks to the Bombinomicon (a play on the words “bomb” and “necronomicon”) and is an alcoholic. He drinks almost constantly, but despite that, he is still able to function very well. As his name implies, Demo is a demolitions expert and his weapons always have to do with bombs. Despite his perpetual alcoholism, he is a nice guy who, for a time, became friends with the opposite team’s Soldier. 

Spy is a, well, spy who has some very impressive gadgets on him. These include a watch that can make him invisible and allow him to take on the appearances of other people, tricking them. He’s also a backstabber as his melee weapon is a butterfly knife. Spy is a secretive and smart man who is also a gentleman and a ladies man. He’s slept with Scout’s mom after all, and yes, he is Scout’s dad though Scout doesn’t know that. Spy does care for his son, but he clearly doesn’t know how to be a good dad. 

Pyro is a complete mystery to the point where we don’t even know Pyro’s gender. In the comics, there have been jokes about Pyro potentially being a woman, but none of which actually confirms this. Either way, Pyro is a being who is obsessed with their weapon of choice – a flamethrower. However, while everyone looks on in abject horror at Pyro’s destructive capabilities, what Pyro sees is a lot more innocent. Pyro is implied to have some form of schizophrenia as what they see in battle is not a violent massacre, but rather a candyland-like place where everyone is cute and everyone is having fun. 

Sniper is a younger Australian who takes his job very seriously and treats it with the utmost respect. His motto is to be efficient and accurate while being respectful towards his targets. He is rather closed off and introverted, preferring the comforts of his van to the hussle of the base where the team stays. He loves his parents even if they don’t approve of his choice of profession.  

Soldier is an absolute nutcase who, despite having never been in any branch of the military, insists that he is a soldier (don’t tell him that he isn’t). He is, however, extremely disciplined and blunt while also being very stupid. However, despite his stupidity, it genuinely does seem like he has good intentions. In the comics, he starts dating and is engaged to Heavy’s sister Zhanna after knowing her for a few days.  

If it isn’t abundantly clear, these comics and the general story of TF2 is absolutely insane and very charming in spite of that. None of these characters are normal human beings and their charms come from just how weird, insane, or silly they are.  

In fact, just to demonstrate how utterly insane this world can be at times, I will now list off a couple of events that actually happened in this world: 

Every Halloween, a wizard named Merasmus comes to attack the Mercenaries and uses Demo’s eye to create monstrosities. Soldier lived with Merasmus as a roommate and Merasmus, an all-powerful wizard who could do anything, hated living with Soldier so much that he left. The island of New Zealand was sunk to the bottom of the ocean intentionally. Australium itself. The town of Teufort which neighbors the base where the team lives is full of lead-poisoned idiots who tried to put some of the Mercs on trial despite not being legally able to. Soldier was Scout’s lawyer and that ended about as well as you would expect. Medic made a deal with the actual literal Devil and got revived by tricking him. Gray Mann was raised by eagles. 

Welp, guess I gotta talk about Grey Mann now. 

So, obviously, Grey Mann is an important character in the lore as well. And yes, when he was born, he was taken by an eagle and raised by her when his father wanted to kill him for being ugly. Grey Mann eventually killed the eagle, ate her, and came back to society. It’s also worth mentioning that despite Grey Mann’s brothers being absolute morons, Grey himself is a genius who built his own empire and specialized in robotics, and he made his own powerful Australium fueled life-extending machine. 

So a few years into the Gravel War with the modern day Mercs, Grey Mann leads an attack on Mann Co. and the RED and BLU teams are forced to fight an army of robots instead of each other. At this point, Redmond and Blutarch Mann are both dead, having been killed by Grey Mann.  

The reason for attacking RED, BLU, and Mann Co. itself? Grey Mann wants to find more Australium. He wants to acquire all of it. And that brings us to the events of the current comics which are… unfinished.  

Issue 7, the last issue in the series, was supposed to end the saga and show what became of everyone. The fans have been waiting for 7 years now for an update which is probably never going to come out. There are theories as to what would have happened, but nothing substantial or canonical.  

However, who these characters are and their stories are still celebrated by the fans, despite this game being almost 20 years old. We love these characters and while they are all insane, you get the sense that they all care for one another regardless of if they fight or squabble.  

Spy helps Scout with setting up a date for Scout and Miss Pauling after Scout had to ask him genuinely. Heavy and Medic share a friendship to the point that when Medic gets killed in the comics, Heavy is furious. Demo and Soldier share a friendship and Demo has endless patience for his clueless friend. Engineer and Medic frequently and excitedly collaborate with each other. Sniper and Spy share banter and a rivalry, while also having mutual respect for one another.  

All of these moments show that they are friends, and many fans have gone on to expand upon the friendships by writing stories, creating art, and even making full-on movies about them. The dedication, appreciation, and love TF2 fans have for this franchise is immense. And I highly doubt that it will die down anytime soon. The excitement is so contagious that the voice actors for the characters have started to interact with fans, leading their own events for fans to attend, and it seems like they all really enjoy themselves.  

When the voice actors of the characters also adore and care for the game they helped to create, then you know there’s something really good about said game. 


If you wanna check out the comics, you can find them at And if you want to see more on-screen character interactions, the “Meet the Team” video is available on Youtube for your viewing pleasure.  

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About the Contributor
Sage As8bakw Selec, Staff Writer, Art Director
Sage "As8bakw" Selec (they/them) is an Indigenous and Bosnian artist and writer. They pride themselves on being critically honest and being passionate about their endeavors. They are currently living in Vermont, have a cat named Jiji, and enjoying being broke.