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Left 4 Dead’s “secret” Purple Francis character goes viral

The Left 4 Dead community has been left confused and amused by the appearance of a purple-coloured fifth protagonist to the game’s fan-authored wiki.

“Purple Francis” was recently added to the encyclopaedic fan resource in quite some detail. While drive-by vandalism of wiki pages is common, the character was an unusually committed creation, spread across dozens of the site’s pages. It was enough for the matter to quickly get noticed and blow up on Twitter:

Wiki entries detailed a fictional backstory and development history for the character – including his removal by Valve from retail copies of the game due to negative feedback, since Purple Francis was “just a recolouring of Francis” turned… purple.

Spoilsport editors of the wiki have now removed references to the creation, but not before Purple Francis spawned some very real fans of his own.

Mod it til it Breaks: Left 4 Dead 2 and more!

There’s now a pile of Purple Francis fanart, an official Discord server, and a mod on Steam Workshop that claims to restore the “cut content” of Purple Francis to the game. It was quickly put together over the weekend by Bobinsox, who worked on the game’s officially-released The Last Stand community update – the game’s first major DLC in eight years, released last September.

One fan who downloaded the mod said it made Francis “look like jelly”:

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Speaking to Eurogamer, Purple Francis creator and Left 4 Dead wiki author Lucy told me the interest in the character had taken her by surprise – for a few reasons.

The idea for Purple Francis had started as a personal joke between her and a friend, Evan, which then spiralled into the wiki edits. Also…

“If we’re being honest? I don’t even have Left 4 Dead lmao,” Lucy told me. “I’ve been meaning to pick it up but I never got around to it.

“Evan (co-creator) plays it a ton and I’ve watched him play it a few times. I’ll grab a Steam card this weekend.”

Purple Francis would be proud.

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