During an interview with ki11six, creative director Paul Sage confirmed that Gaige will not be in the base game of Borderlands 3. We did notice that several prominent Vault Hunters from the previous games haven’t made their return yet. Throughout the Borderlands 3 trailers, we have spotted a lot of fan favorites but a few of them have been missing in action. There even was a theory that some of them died as we can see a vault hunter kill count painted throughout some of the locations.
Paul Sage had put this theory to rest as they want to bring back fan favorites, however, it has to make sense for them to return. If you are not spending enough time with these characters it does no one a favor by shoehorning them in. Gearbox wants characters like Gaige to play a meaningful role.
This doesn’t mean we will never see Gaige or some of the other Vault Hunters return. There are still 4 story DLCs coming after the launch of the game. When Borderlands 3 does well they could even make more content. These would be great opportunities to bring back everyone favorite character into the Borderlands 3 timeline.