The lore in Overwatch can be difficult to access at times, but it’s there. To make a long story short, the eponymous Overwatch was an elite team, consisting of people from all over the world who excelled in their respective fields. This team was built in response to the Omnic crisis, which was essentially a robot revolution against humanity. Eventually, humanity triumphed, but the rift between Overwatch and its covert ops division, Blackwatch—as well as the formation of the criminal organization Talon—highlighted that the Omnic crisis wasn’t humanity’s only problem. Overwatch Character Lore looks into the lore behind the characters, arranged in alphabetical order, detailing their backgrounds, relationships. and ambitions. It will draw from the game, the comics, and the short films published by Blizzard Entertainment on YouTube.
Overwatch Character Lore: Volume 3 looks at the last ten characters, Soldier: 76 through Zenyatta, and the full series includes all characters added to the game through September 2018.
Jack Morrison joined the US Army at the age of 18. Soon after, despite not having wanted to be in the military long-term, he was offered a position in the prestigious soldier enhancement program. It was here that Morrison met Gabriel Reyes, who would become his best friend, and eventually his worst enemy. The two joined Overwatch together, and despite the fact that Reyes was granted leadership, it was later transferred to Morrison, with Reyes gaining control of Overwatch’s covert ops division, Blackwatch. Morrison became the face of Overwatch, and was adored by people all over the world. Despite Reyes becoming more and more reckless, Morrison always defended his best friend’s actions. Well, he did until Reyes killed Antonio Bartalotti in cold blood. Bartalotti had been identified as the person behind the attack on Overwatch’s Oslo headquarters, and despite Morrison’s desire to investigate further, he told Reyes that it was up to him whether Blackwatch went after Bartalotti or not. He did not, however, condone the murder of Bartalotti. Reyes did this without even having previous approval from the team who accompanied him, consisting of Genji, McCree, and Moira. Morrison was furious with Reyes, as were Ana and Gérard Lecroix. However, Reyes did not lose his position as the Commander of Blackwatch.
Reyes disobeyed Morrison again by deploying Blackwatch agents, including Jesse McCree, on the ground in King’s Row on the 27th day of the Uprising there. However, Morrison eventually authorized Overwatch interference after Lena Oxton, a.k.a. Tracer, delivered a moving speech, declaring Overwatch’s duty. Eventually, Reyes led a rebellion against Morrison, triggering the explosion at Overwatch’s Swiss headquarters, leading their friends to believe that both of them had died in the blast. Similarly to Reaper, Morrison went rogue, now operating under the alias of “Soldier: 76”. However, unlike Reaper’s terrorist attacks, Morrison became a vigilante, serving his own form of justice. He stole equipment from several Overwatch facilities, until he eventually possessed an entire kit of highly-advanced equipment. He made it his mission to expose the truth behind the downfall of Overwatch.
As described in the section under Reaper, Morrison and Reyes were reunited in Egypt, at which time Reaper almost killed Morrison. Ana saved Morrison, and agreed to join his cause. However, she was skeptical. When asked if he had any idea as to what he would do after they had restored Overwatch to its former glory, Morrison replied that his war would never end.
Olivia Colomar is a renowned hacker. Her cybernetic enhancements essentially make her a human computer, supplementing her already-exceptional hacking abilities. Having collaborated with Los Muertos in her youth, she became addicted to hacking, eventually stumbling into a global conspiracy. Her identity became compromised, and so, Olivia Colomar became Sombra.
Sombra, now more careful, resumed her work. Eventually, she was recruited by Talon, and began working alongside the likes of Reaper, Widowmaker, and Doomfist. Sombra began to work with Los Muertos again, and eventually exposed the shady dealings of LúmeriCo’s CEO, Guillermo Portero. Sombra had accomplished a feat that was so impressive, that people thought she was a group of people, as opposed to an individual. Despite her fame across all of Mexico, Sombra wasn’t even remotely phased. She had already began to assist Talon in their infiltration of Volskaya Industries. This infiltration, as described under the Reaper section, ended with Sombra sabotaging the mission in favor of her own personal gain. Having made a friend in Katya Volskaya, Sombra continued to pursue the conspiracy she had previously unearthed. Although she offered Talon her services, she withheld her loyalty in secret. However, Katya dispatched Zarya to track down Sombra. The two exchanged words and bullets, but ultimately, Zarya let Sombra go.
Hailing from India, Satya Vaswani was inducted into Vishkar’s Architech Academy at a young age. Her potential was quickly recognized, and she was assigned the moniker “Symmetra” by Vishkar. Symmetra had, at this stage, mastered her control of the hard-light technology pioneered by Vishkar, which allowed her to literally manipulate reality. She is on the autism spectrum, and although she maintains good intentions, she is willing to engage in morally questionable actions in order to further the goals of Vishkar, which, by her logic, will lead to a better world for humanity.
After being guided back to her hotel by a young girl from the slums of Rio, Symmetra vowed that she would secure a deal with the city’s mayor for Vishkar to redevelop Rio. She attempted to sabotage the rival company, Calado, who had initially secured the deal ahead of Viskhar, but did not resort to lethal force on any occasion in doing so. After revealing to her superiors that she had not collected sufficient information to bring Calado down, the Calado building behind her collapsed in a devastating explosion. Symmetra spotted a woman in the adjacent slum crying, and realized that her daughter was stuck inside a burning house. Symmetra went inside and saved a young girl – the girl from before. Symmetra’s belief in Vishkar suffered immeasurable damage that day, and even more damage when her superiors announced that the redevelopment of the city had been complete, considering that housing had yet to be provided to those who lost their homes to the Calado explosion. Despite the rebellion which ensued from Vishkar’s interference in Rio, which had been led by Lúcio, Symmetra continued to try to convince herself that this had been the right thing for Vishkar, and for her, to do.
The Swedish engineer, Torbjorn Lindholm, is renowned as one of the best engineers in the world. He is Brigitte Lindholm’s father, and Reinhardt Wilhelm’s best friend. Torbjorn’s brilliance resulted in him being headhunted by arms dealers all over the world, but his desire for a better humanity caused him to come into conflict with the people he worked for. Torbjorn never trusted the Omnics, and although other people laughed at his paranoia, he essentially predicted the Omnic crisis.
Torbjorn was selected to be a part of the original Overwatch team, who needed an expert in engineering to design cutting-edge equipment for them. Towards the end of the Omnic crisis, Torbjorn almost died in Istanbul. However, Reinhardt saved him, earning his right to name Torbjorn’s daughter—Brigitte. Reinhardt stayed by his bedside until Torbjorn made a full recovery, and was able to return home to his wife, Ingrid. Torbjorn played a quintessential role in Overwatch, designing cutting-edge weapons systems and making breakthroughs in the field of biotics, even inventing Ana Amari’s biotic rifle.
After Overwatch’s disbandment, Torbjorn decided to seek out the weapons he created, lest they fall into the wrong hands. When Winston issued the recall, Torbjorn was in Western Russia, likely searching for his own inventions. Eventually, while at home in Sweden, Torbjorn was notified of a rogue Bastion unit roaming the forests. Having helped to design the E54 Bastion, Torbjorn knew exactly what he was dealing with. Despite his attempts to draw fire from the Bastion, all it did was offer him wood to help a group of beavers with the construction of a dam. Immediately recognizing the docility of this Bastion unit, Torbjorn saved it from the people who had set out to hunt it. In line with his previous skepticism of Omnics, he assured the Bastion that they weren’t friends, but soon afterwards, built him a new set of armor to replace his old one.
Torbjorn permitted his daughter to join Reinhardt on his quest across Europe for honor and glory, partly because he wanted to honor her wishes, but mostly because he knew no one in the world would protect her better than his best friend.
Fun fact: On board the aircraft that dropped Overwatch agents on the ground in London to quell the King’s Row Uprising, Torbjorn looked at Tracer and said, “The cavalry’s here.” Tracer went on to use this phrase as her own personal motto, despite Torbjorn’s intended sarcasm.
Ah, Lena Oxton, the face of Overwatch. A fan-favorite, and rightfully so. Hailing from London, Tracer is pure, and believes in doing what’s right, no matter what. Lena always wanted to join Overwatch, and she got her chance when she became the youngest person ever to be inducted into Overwatch’s experimental flight program. Unfortunately, the ship she piloted, the Slipstream, was a cutting-edge ship designed for teleportation. During her first flight, the ship malfunctioned, and it disappeared, along with Lena.
She reappeared a few months later. Most people thought that she had died. However, although she reappeared, she was suffering from chronal dissociation, which meant that she could spontaneously disappear for hours, or even days at a time. Enter: Winston. The brilliant scientist from Horizon Lunar Colony invented the chronal accelerator, which not only kept Tracer anchored in time, but allowed her to manipulated her chronal dissociation at will. It wasn’t long before Tracer and Winston became best friends.
Tracer began training as an Overwatch agent, sparring against Blackwatch agent Genji. She was the only trainee that managed to impress him. At the suggestion of Mercy and Winston, and with the approval of Jack Morrison, Tracer entered active duty on the 27th day of the King’s Row Uprising. Alongside Reinhardt, Torbjorn, and Mercy, Tracer helped to defeat Null Sector at King’s Row, proving herself to be a true Overwatch hero. Tracer would later return to King’s Row in Alive to see Tekharta Mondatta, the famous Omnic monk. Growing suspicious, she inspected the perimeter, finding Widowmaker in the process. Despite Tracer’s best efforts, Widowmaker killed Mondatta, and escaped on a Talon aircraft.
In the battle against Doomfist, Tracer’s chronal accelerator was crushed, causing her to blink uncontrollably. It was because of this that Winston entered Primal Rage and bested Doomfist. Winston repaired her chronal accelerator afterwards. In the next effort made to recover Doomfist’s gauntlet, Reaper and Widowmaker attacked the museum which had it on display. Winston and Tracer, with the help of some civilians, easily thwarted the Talon agents’ plans.
In Recall, it is Tracer who immediately responds to Winston, saying, “Winston? Is that you, love? It’s been too long!”
In the present day, Lena Oxton lives in London with her girlfriend, Emily.
Amélie Lacroix, née Guillard, was born in France. While growing up in Paris, she met Overwatch scientist, Gerard Lacroix. She was kidnapped by Talon agents after several failed attempts to kidnap her husband. However, after some time, she was found in the streets, seemingly normal. She resumed her normal life, much to the delight of her husband and friends. However, two weeks later, she killed her husband in his sleep. Talon had essentially brainwashed Amélie, and thus, Widowmaker was born. Talon slowed her heart rate, resulting in her skin turning blue, her heart slowing down, and her emotional capacity becoming all but eradicated.
During a battle between Overwatch and Talon, Ana temporarily bested Widowmaker in a sniper duel. However, her shot knocked Widowmaker’s helmet off, revealing her face. Stunned, Ana lost her focus, allowing Widowmaker to retaliate. Widomaker shot Ana through the scope of her own sniper, which is why the Captain Ana Amari we know and love wears an eye-patch.
As described in the Tracer section, Widowmaker assassinated the Shambali leader, Tekharta Mondatta.
Widowmaker missed her shot on Katya Voldkaya in Infiltration, thanks to Sombra’s interference. As seen in the shot through Tracer’s chronal accelerator in Alive, it is very rare that Widowmaker misses. After Doomfist was freed from prison, Widowmaker helped him to kill Vialli, taking control of Talon in the process.
Winston is a genetically-enhanced gorilla who grew up on Horizon Lunar Colony. Although he loved his time there, some of the other test subjects did not. A revolution began, and the other gorillas killed all of the human scientists on the station, including Winston’s father figure, Dr. Harold Winston. Harold had spent almost every day with Winston, as he was impressed at how rapid his intellectual progression had been. Harold told him not to see the world as it was, but how it could be. At Horizon, Winston became fast friends with Specimen 8: Hammond.
After the revolution, Winston was unwanted by his fellow apes. He built a makeshift rocket, and made for Earth, which Harold had shown him so long ago. He landed at Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and found a new home in Overwatch. Harold had taught him science, and told him stories of heroism and humanity. Winston could finally become the hero he was always meant to be. Although Winston loved most of his colleagues, Gabriel Reyes hated him.
As mentioned in the Tracer section, it was Winston who designed the chronal accelerator that kept her anchored in time. Also, as previously mentioned, it was Winston who used his Primal Rage to defeat Doomfist after Genji and Tracer had been incapacitated.
When Reaper tried to hack the Watchpoint: Gibraltar database in Recall, Winston fought him back, and stopped the download. After Reaper retreated, Winston decided to initiate a recall of all Overwatch agents—something he had wanted to do for a long time. He delivered a speech—the speech from he opening cutscene in Overwatch—and, after many failed attempts, broadcast it across all Overwatch channels. This was the broadcast which released Mei from cryostasis. He later launched a drone from Gibraltar, successfully reinstating global Overwatch communications.
From here, until to the present day, Winston’s battles are covered in the Tracer section. Tracer visited Winston for Christmas Day with her girlfriend, Emily. She didn’t want him to have to spend it alone.
Specimen 8: Hammond, was Winston’s only animal friend on Horizon Lunar Colony. Also exhibiting signs of intelligence, Hammond was able to communicate, but not in any human language. His mech, “Wrecking Ball,” serves the primary function of translating his thoughts to English, offering an output that the human scientists could understand.
Hammond underwent genetic therapy in order to test the adverse effects of habitation on the moon. However, this therapy made him increase in size, and made him dramatically more intelligent. Hammond was mischievous, and regularly escaped his cage at nighttime, which caused a great deal of confusion for the scientists. However, Hammond did this for a reason. He was teaching himself engineering and mechanics, and when Winston built his makeshift rocket, Hammond built an escape capsule that latched onto the back of it. Unfortunately, before the two could be reunited, the cord attaching Hammond’s pod to Winston’s snapped. While Winston landed at Watchpoint: Gibraltar, Hammond landed just outside of Junkertown.
Hammond’s escape pod had been fashioned into the same design as his mech. When he landed, he entered the Scrapyard, Junkertown’s notorious battle arena, and became the champion. After he had earned enough money to upgrade his mech sufficiently, he left Junkertown to explore the world, and, hopefully, be reunited with his best friend from Horizon.
Aleksandra Zaryanova is a champion weightlifter and one of the most trusted allies of Katya Volskaya. Hailing from Russia, she sacrificed her Olympic career to fight for her country during the Omnic crisis. To this day, she is distrustful of all robots, including Lynx 17, who accompanies her in her search for Sombra.
Zarya’s core belief is that the strong should protect the weak. The reason she sacrificed her career was because, in a peaceful world, she might have had success in that area; but in a world in which her friends and family are unsafe, it is her duty to use her strength to protect people. The real reason she even started training in the first place was so that she could keep her loved ones safe and sound.
After Sombra attempted to bribe Katya Volskaya, Zarya was sent to Numbani to meet with Lynx 17. Together, they eventually tracked Sombra down, but ultimately, Zarya let her escape. Lynx 17 had been hacked, and the warehouse would explode in one minute. The warehouse did explode, but all three had escaped, as Zarya had saved them. Neither Lynx 17, Sombra, or even Zarya herself knew what came over Zarya to make her save an omnic and an enemy of Katya. Zarya, confused, decided to go back to the Russian Defense Forces. She agreed to keep Katya’s secret about collaborating with Omnics in order to pile resources for the war against the Siberian omnium.
Zenyatta is an omnic monk and a former member of the Shambali under Tekharta Mondatta. He left the Shambali, as he believed that harmony between humans and omnics could only be truly achieved through genuine interpersonal connection. Although he held a high opinion of Mondatta, he ultimately elected to pursue his own path, and began to wander the world. It has been said that those who cross paths with Zenyatta are forever changed.
One such person was Genji. After leaving Overwatch, Genji had become entirely disillusioned with his cyborg body. He felt he had no place on either side of the human/omnic dichotomy. Zenyatta, despite Genji’s protest, eventually managed to teach Genji how to be whole again, and Genji decided to stay with Zenyatta, becoming one of his brightest pupils.
The wisdom Zenyatta passed on to Genji was what gave Genji the ability to visit his brother, Hanzo, and offer him his forgiveness. Genji now believed that Hanzo, too, could be saved.
Although peaceful, Zenyatta will fight to protect the innocent if necessary.
All lore was collected by the writer of this article, and fact-checked against the official Overwatch wiki.