best borderlands cosplay ideas guide

Best Borderlands Cosplay Ideas Guide

Latest posts by James Gibson (see all)

The Borderlands franchise is vastly popular among the cosplay community. Whether this is because of the unique art style adopted by Scott Kester (lead concept artist) and the team over at Gearbox software or the distinct and varied styles of the many characters you choose from, who is to say? One thing is for certain though, there are many avenues one can take when chasing down a certain look for your next cosplay event.

Some might call this an amazing opportunity to really get into the tiny details of their outfit. Still, the sheer amount of content out there on certain characters especially can be quite overwhelming for some.

If this sounds at all like you, you’re in the right place, as this guide will help narrow down your options and give some helpful tips and tricks to ensure you arrive as the most handsome Jack of them all. So, with that being said, let’s get started.

So, What Exactly is The Borderlands Franchise?

The Borderlands Franchise

Borderlands, a game originally published in 2009, can be defined as an open world, action role-playing game or ARPG with a looter shooter-like element thrown in. Sure to keep the dedicated vault hunter coming back for more, always chasing that slightly better weapon.

Being the first in a series of 4, this game really set the tone for the franchise as a whole, bringing a breath of fresh, comical air into a market previously saturated with brooding protagonists unable to crack a smile.

The franchise as a whole follows a set structure. The player is greeted with a set of new ‘Vault Hunters’ in every iteration of the game; each hunter represents a class with special traits and abilities, a common but very welcome trope of the RPG genre that I’m sure most of you are familiar with.

This aspect of class selection is great if you love running through a game multiple times, facing different obstacles along the way, and thus changing your game experience each time. However, the true beauty of this class system comes into play when you get a couple of your friends involved. Similar to many MOBAs, the classes are there to support one another, so if you manage to get a good team together, you’re on to a winner.

The Series As a Whole

Whilst the series has expanded to include titles available on IOS, Android, and spin-offs from studios such as TellTale Games. There are currently four titles considered to be part of the main cannon. These are:

Borderlands 1

Borderlands 1

The first installment into this franchise tells the story of four ‘Vault Hunters,’ who reach the planet of Pandora in search of glory and treasure in the form of a… you guessed it, vault. These adventurers, therefore, journey throughout Pandora, searching for pieces of the vault key, all the while battling not only the indigenous flora and fauna but also the Atlas Corporation.

They are also in search of the vault. Eventually, the hunters assemble the key only to open the vault and find a tentacled monster aptly named ‘The Destroyer’ waiting for them. The heroes inevitably defeat said monster and help the friends they met along the road, pushing the Atlas Corporation’s remnants off Pandora completely.

Borderlands 2


In this entry, 6 new hunters once again touch down on Pandora in search of a newly discovered vault. However, the series’ main antagonist, Handsome Jack, and his vast resources as the head of mega-corporation, Hyperion, do their darndest to stop them. At this point, the player is thrust back into the world of Pandora, meeting old friends from the previous installment.

Once again, helping out where possible, culminating in a final rendezvous with Jack just as the hunters open the vault. At that point, Jack summons the ‘Gigantic Warrior,’ which he hopes to use to control all of Pandora and the galaxy beyond it. After defeating this final boss and leaving Handsome Jack looking not quite as handsome, the hunters discover the vault key, a map, leading to other vaults strewn across the galaxy.

Borderland: The Pre-Sequel

The Pre Seque

This installment begins with Jack as a lowly program developer for Hyperion. He discovers another vault on Pandora and thus hires 6 new hunters to find it for him. With the help of these hunters, Jack is able to take control of Helios. This Hyperion space station orbits just outside Pandora’s atmosphere. Therefore, Jack can use the resources of Helios and his new hunters to finally open the vault, which he finds a strange vision granting artifact.

These visions begin to drive Jack wild with power, resulting in one of the hunters punching said artifact into his face, disfiguring him. From this point, the central antagonist is born as he assumes the moniker Handsome Jack, seizes control of Hyperion, and promises retribution on all vault hunters.

Borderlands 3

Borderlands 3 cosplay

The most recent installment of the franchise takes place a whole 7 years post-Borderlands 2; a whole lot has changed. First, Sanctuary has been destroyed to protect Pandora, resulting in the central characters now hopping through space in their craft Sanctuary 3. They are searching for all vaults previously found at the end of the second game. The plot then darkens when the Calypso Twins, Tyreen and Troy, surface, claiming to be the rightful owners of the vault.

This matter is further complicated by their droves of loyal supporters who together form the Children of the Vault group under the twins. Our intrepid hunters in this installment are then further hampered by mega-corporation Maliwan’s interest in the vaults as they provide military support to the Children.

As the plot develops, we find that the twins are Sirens and wish to absorb the power of the vault monsters to open the ‘Great Vault’, the planet Pandora itself. Therefore, with the help of past allies and newcomers, the hunters defeat the twins and the final vault monster together, losing friends along the way.

The Complete Borderlands Cosplay Guide

With the Borderlands series having so much content officially published, there are many ideas and costumes one can pick on. To this end, there are two paths a cosplayer can go down when putting together their vault hunter look. You can either go down the DIY route or the more expensive custom-made option.

Both options are just as valid depending on your income and commitment to the piece. With the franchise’s popularity in regards to cosplay, the market is not lacking professionally made outfits and props.

With that being said, however, there are many ways that one can either make a Borderlands cosplay themselves out of what is already available to them or with a very small budget in mind. This is especially true when you consider the vast number of characters the series has to offer.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the most popular or iconic characters from the series. Hopefully, I can help you put together your best cosplay piece yet. Let’s go!

Handsome Jack

handsome jack

The arch antagonist of the series is often the first port of call for a daring borderlands cosplayer. Maybe it’s because of his dapper suits, or maybe because everyone loves a good, bad guy. Either way, what a statement you can make with this character as your inspiration.

Costume Ideas

  • Do you have any old suits lying around? Maybe ones that don’t fit you, your partner, or family member? Well, a combination of scissors and some detailed folding will get you the jacket piece in no time.
  • You can also make or get quite cheaply some iron-on patches to put on your suit jacket for that little added authenticity.
  • There are also plenty of makeup tutorials online to get that perfect comic book-like style the Borderlands characters all exude.
  • It is also important to remember that Jack, whilst being a super-rich evil overlord, still presents himself in a rather steampunk style, so there’s no need for everything to be brand new; distress marks or rips can go a long way in this cosplay. After all, he’s a gunslinger himself.


  • The base elements of the costume are easy to replicate, especially the jacket and trousers.
  • The hair can be a simple wig or just some well-placed leave-in hair dye for that silver streak; job done!


  • Other aspects of the costume, such as Jack’s waistcoat, can be hard to replicate at home properly; therefore, some outsourcing may be required for the particular cosplayer.
  • The makeup is no simple task and may take a couple of tries until you are completely happy with the results.



For many, Claptrap is the best part of this franchise. The robot companions’ witty lines and utter selfishness despite the obvious disdain of their hunter companions is a sight to behold. This can mix very well with the light-hearted spin many Claptrap cosplayers approach the character with.

On the other hand, however, many cosplayers have taken the opportunity to revamp the tired old shell of Claptrap and put a more fashion-forward twist on the old robot.

Costume Ideas

  • For a more comical look, one can simply start with a box, maybe one that has been sitting in your hallway since Christmas? Simply make some strategic cuts and buy some yellow paint, a bit of elbow grease will get you far with this idea.
  • You can either make the costume 3D like in the above picture or simply paint Claptrap’s likeness onto the box itself. This idea may be best for the artistically adept amongst us.
  • For a more fashion-forward and humanoid rendition of Claptrap, it’s hard to disagree with the addition of roller-skates to give that true Claptrap feel.
  • Once again, this character has literally been living in exile when we first meet him, so don’t worry too much about the state of the costume, in fact, a bit of distress is desired.


  • The costume can be as detailed or simple as you like.
  • This is also a good entry-level costume if you are just starting to get into the cosplaying world. No difficult to reproduce accessories are direly needed.
  • This can be a real money saver for some, as many of the elements needed are already in most people’s homes.


  • Claptrap is essentially just a robot, so a humanoid rendition of the character may not be suitable for some cosplayers who wish to get as close to the original inspiration as possible.
  • The option where a simple box is used for Claptrap is both simple and effective but could be rather flimsy and easily broken. A possible disaster at any closely packed conventions.



There are not many images so heavily associated with the Borderlands franchise than the image of the recurring enemy combatant, the Psycho. These bad guys and gals are recognizable to the Borderlands enthusiast and most gamers alike as they are often depicted in the game cover art.

Costume Ideas

  • For the bare torso, there are two options you can go for. If you are in particularly good shape and don’t mind walking around with your top off, then good for you. Whip it off and use some makeup to add more comic-book-like definition to your muscles, and you’re done. Otherwise, there are several muscle suit like costume layers available that you can get for a relatively cheap price.
  • The mask can be as authentic or DIY as you need it to be. Not many people would be offended if you painted a hockey mask and got creative with some piping to get the same effect.
  • To make the rest of the costume, some yellow or orange trousers combined with relatively random pieces of armor-esque household materials will do the job.


  • With this costume, the more seemingly thrown together the elements, the better. Remember, these characters are literally called psychos, so try and embody this energy when piecing everything together.
  • The mask itself is enough for most to love your costume, so you can get away without buying or creating expensive prop weapons.


  • To make this costume perfect, you need to have a decent amount of experience with makeup, especially on the body or the fabric of your torso muscle costume piece.



Lastly, I am going to mention Zer0. This character is one of my personal favorites, not just because I always pick the stealthy characters in RPGs but also because I simply cannot turn down the opportunity to hack and slash my way through myriad enemies with their swords.

A Zer0 cosplay, therefore, suits the more incognito of cosplayers with the mask providing a certain air of anonymity, possibly a benefit for those dipping their toes into the cosplaying waters for the first time.

Costume Ideas

  • A black or dark coloured set of overalls are key here. The edition of some paint can really help bring everything together.
  • To me, Zer0 represents the ultimate in utility outfitting. Therefore, any manual work attire you or your extended circle has lying around could come in handy here. A belt especially could help.
  • The sword is essential with this outfit, in my opinion. To get this look, you can either try adapting some cardboard or a pool noodle. If this isn’t for you, maybe look into your local toyshop.


  • The general base costume is very easy to assemble.
  • Anonymity for the shyer cosplayers amongst us.


  • To get the helmet to look right, whilst also being able to see out of the visor, you might need to spend a bit of money.

Borderlands Character Trivia

Whilst there is so much out there about some of these characters, being the focal point of myriad titles. There are still many things either unknown by the avid gamer or aspects included by the writing teams that were simply looked over by the masses. So, let us look at some of the more interesting facts hidden away in the Borderlands cannon:

  • According to the official Borderlands Twitter account, the most popular characters in the entire universe amongst fans are Krieg, Claptrap, and Tiny Tina.
  • Speaking of Tiny Tina, the character was voiced by Ashly Burch, sister of Borderlands 2 writer Anthony Burch. Also, the famous lazy eye of Tiny Tina was not actually created on purpose. In fact, it was a programming bug. This bug was decided to suit the character so well that it was left in the final game as part of her character.
  • Handsome Jack recorded dialogue for the New-U Station respawn point where he welcomed you with sarcastic messages and taunts. However, this section was cut as the team decided that the final game already had enough insults from Jack.


Question: Who is the most popular Borderlands character to Cosplay as?

Answer: Borderlands, whilst having great depth in characters, has a standout winner in popularity within the cosplay community; Handsome Jack. Who’s to say whether this is because of his incredible wit or society’s love of a good villain?

Question: What are the rules for dressing up in Borderlands cosplay

Answer: The beauty of cosplay is that the community is not only supportive of one another, but they are also very accepting of new interpretations and ideas when it comes to their favorite characters. Therefore, you need not worry about rules, just have fun and respect those around you, and nobody will mind any perceived missteps or faux pas on your part.

Question: How much should you spend on a costume for cosplay

Answer: A great thing about cosplay is that there is no real financial barrier to entry. Instead, where money is an issue, one can make up for the professional touch with a good bit of elbow grease and time. This can get you a long way in the cosplay world. Also, you can bring in any special talents regarding aspects of cosplay such as crafts or makeup.

Question: Can girls dress up as male Borderlands characters and vice versa?

Answer: Thankfully, there are no rules or expectations for cosplayers to stick within their own perceived gender. While some characters and their costumes are unmistakably made for particular genders, don’t let this scare you off. You can interpret the costume and, therefore, character any way you desire. That’s part of the fun. This also opens up options for everyone involved.

Question: Why is Borderlands so popular with cosplayers?

Answer: Like with any popular game, series, or movie, the corresponding cosplay community is just as popular within the cosplay scene. Therefore, since Borderlands was and is such a massive franchise, it is easy to explain the popularity of the Borderlands cosplayer. However, this is not the only reason for the popularity of the game amongst the community.

For instance, the art style used within the game allows the more advanced cosplay artists to create unique pieces of makeup, which helps bring their efforts to life and sets them apart from other cosplayers who are simply dressing as their favorite characters. A Borderlands cosplay done to the highest standard will leave the cosplayer looking almost otherworldly in terms of the comic book likeness of their makeup.

Best Borderlands Cosplay Ideas: Summing Up

By this point in the article, I am sure you are now fully aware of the context a hopeful Borderlands cosplayer finds themselves in. Not only does the original game give the player plenty of ideas and opportunities for cosplay, but as the series continues, so does the design team.

They keep producing new cool and fascinating-looking characters and NPCs. The possibilities are virtually endless. The cosplayer is only limited by their imagination or ambition at this point.

With this in mind, I must ask, have you made up your mind yet? Do you know which Borderlands character you are going to transform yourself into and how? If so, you better get to work. With restrictions lifting worldwide, the cosplay community is only starting to get some life back through its veins, and many events that were previously postponed will be starting again. So, good luck and happy hunting!

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