The Perseverance of The Tarnished

The Perseverance of The Tarnished from Elden Ring is his greatest quality, and it’s one of the main reasons for his rise to power as Elden Lord. There are a few points that I must address before we proceed: this article contains spoilers for the plot and the world of Elden Ring.

Also, I highly recommend reading our lore article about the Tarnished before reading this.

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The Perseverance of The Tarnished

The Tarnished has no name. No renown. He’s no lord or a noble as far as we know. He’s of average height and medium build. The name “Tarnished” means that they’re less worthy of respect or love. He’s basically an ordinary person who could swing a sword around. Nothing more. At the start of the game, most Tarnished ones miserably fail at defeating the Grafted Scion and suffer a quick death.

Gameplay-wise, the stats of the Tarnished is weak, to put it very mildly. He can’t survive more than about three hits from an enemy.

“Ye dead, who yet live”

The Tarnished cannot truly die. With each of his deaths, he gets resurrected at a site of grace. Grace is the reason for the resurrection. The Tarnished’s purpose is to become Elden Lord. Is it a blessing or a curse?

It’s a blessing because no matter how many times he fails, he has another chance. It’s a curse because he has to suffer through pain and frustration with each death; he can never truly rest. Indeed, it is both a blessing and a curse.

The absurd world of Elden Ring

The Perseverance of The Tarnished

Absurdism is the philosophy based on the belief that the world is unfair, irrational, and meaningless. The search for order (The Golden Order, in this instance) brings one into conflict with the world. Sure enough, the Lands Between is cruel, hopeless, dark, and tragic. Beauty is only on the outside.

No matter how good of a combatant you are, you’re sure to die in the Lands Between. And the Tarnished is not a very good combatant at the start and in this perilous world, he has suffered more deaths than he could count.

What drives the Tarnished

From Software games tackle depressing and hopeless subjects, and there are hardly any happy endings for the people in these games. Elden Ring is no different for the most part, but there is a glimpse of something good. Hope, maybe. It’s all about overcoming great barriers and achieving something that all others have failed to achieve.

Ambition is one of the main themes of Elden Ring. That is what drives the Tarnished. He hardly has any choice but to move forward. Why not move forward as an all-powerful and chaotic force?

The end goal for the Tarnished is to become the Lord of the Lands Between, be it by attaining the title of Elden Lord or the Lord of the Frenzied Flame. There is nowhere to go but forward. There is nothing else the Tarnished can do except climb the ladder and reach the top. That’s what it’s about: power.

But can someone as minor as a Tarnished with no renown reach this goal? This takes us to the main topic of this article.


Pick yourself up,
Take a deep breath,
Dust yourself off
And start all over again.

Nat King Cole

For the Tarnished, death is not the end. In the end, the only thing he can do is to “get good”. If he hopes to achieve his goal, he needs to overcome the perilous world of the Lands Between. The only person he can truly rely on is himself so why not put the utmost and greatest trust in himself?

Margit the Fell Omen

Imagine this: you encounter Margit, the Fell Omen at the entrance of Castle Stormveil. You couldn’t defeat him at first because you didn’t know someone as powerful as him would be there to welcome you. You die an embarrassingly quick death and lose all the runes you had.

You decide to be ready for the fight next time. You improve your Vigour and craft items that will aid you. Upgrade your weapon. Find some consumable items that’ll give you health boosts and damage boosts.

Now that you feel truly ready, you travel back to the site of grace before the arena where Margit awaits. You use the items to boost your abilities and you skillfully dodge his attacks, and you throw bombs and knives at him, chipping away at his life essence. The fight is going well; you have the advantage. The preparation is truly paying off and suddenly Margit crushes you with his huge hammer and you die again.

The consumables you crafted are gone, the runes are gone and you’ve been defeated once again. What now? Maybe craft more consumables and prepare even better? Or gain more levels to gain the upper hand? Or maybe just give up entirely and abandon your goal?

The curse or the blessing of the Tarnished allows him to rise again after death. But with each defeat, the small glimpse of hope he has escapes him. But he tries again and again and again, killing each and every one of the Demi-gods that are truly more powerful than him. He overcomes the greatest warriors of the Lands Between because he’s not done yet. Now he’s better than before – way better – a true warrior who’s dead yet lives. The Tarnished with no renown finally becomes the Elden Lord with sheer persistence.

The Takeaway

Despite many great obstacles delaying him and making his journey to becoming Elden Lord nigh impossible, he finally achieves what every other Tarnished had failed to achieve. It’s not because he’s stronger or faster or better than his enemies, it’s because he tries again and again despite being defeated more times than he could remember. His passion and ambition and focus are what got him through all the ordeals. He attained his goal because he refused to give up.

Perseverance is the Tarnished’s greatest quality. Unlike the Tarnished, we mortals die once and it’s over. But our world is not as dangerous as the world of Elden Ring and there aren’t grotesque monsters waiting to swallow you whole. Like the Tarnished, learning to persist and refusing to give up no matter what barrier stands before you and your goal is what will lead us to greatness.

Are you obsessed with Elden Ring lore? Read our extensive collection of articles on the game’s lore!