Making the Cut: Defending The Jill Sandwich, Barry Burton Style
Making the Cut is a recurring series in which we defend the notoriously bad things we love about video games. Wonky mechanics, goofy cutscenes, poor characterization—we love it all, and we’re going to tell you why.
I love the Jill sandwich scene, because I love Barry Burton.
In Resident Evil, the survival horror game released for the Playstation in 1996, you play as special-ops agents Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine. They’re looking for their missing teammates and eventually get stuck exploring Spencer Mansion. In the infamous scene, Jill is about to be crushed in by a classic falling ceiling, and she’s saved when her partner Barry kicks down the door. With its comedically bad voice acting, Barry created a meme: You were almost a Jill sandwich!
What is not to love about this? Apparently a translation error, the quote is completely within Barry’s character. What’s his character? A father. And Barry Burton is the ultimate video game dad. (Even Joel refusing to sacrifice Ellie’s got nothing on him.) His family was being threatened in the first Resident Evil, and he did whatever he needed to to save them. Revelations 2 was (partially) about him looking for his daughter at any and all costs. Moira resents him like many teenaged daughters resent their fathers, although their backstory is a good lesson in why guns aren’t meant for kids. But what kind of dad would he be if he didn’t make dad jokes?
Dad jokes must be concise, unfunny if they come from your own dad, and related to the situation. In the first RE, Jill nearly got crushed to death. That would make her sandwiched between the floor and ceiling. Voila: she becomes a Jill sandwich.
And listen, Barry is nothing if not consistent. He has many great gems in the original Resident Evil (that the remake apparently took out). These include, “WOAAAHH! This hall is DANGEROUS!” and “And Jill, here’s a lockpick. It might be handy if you, the Master of Unlocking, take it with you.” My favorite is, “I found something. It’s a weapon. It’s really powerful, especially against living things!” Gee, thanks for that info, Barry.
Yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for Barry because he is a total magnum-wielding badass in the mercenary feature of Resident Evil 5. Seriously, I refused to ever let my old roommate play as him because I always had to be him. When we played Revelations 2, it was a given that I would play as Barry. His lines may also remind me of my own dad; he’s the type that laughs at his own jokes, which I see echoed in Barry’s faux-solemnity.
But beyond all this, my favorite part about this fantastically bad pun is that Capcom is aware of it. In Revelations 2, Claire turns around and says, “I was almost a Claire sandwich!” to Moira—Barry’s daughter. How great is that? I love whenever the creators respond to their fans in this way, acknowledging that games have a real life impact on the world. Even if that impact is a meme.