15 Best Characters from the NieR Franchise (Ranked)

15 Best Characters from the NieR Franchise (Ranked)
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As NieR fans will know, the series has one of the most complex timelines in popular culture. The overall structure of the NieR games is not that complex, but if you dive deeper into the story, you’ll notice that it is exceptionally difficult to follow. It’s not just the alternative endings and the branched plotlines, but also all of the additional content revealed throughout the story and the side quests.

The story of NieR encompasses a period of more than 10,000 years, and although we don’t know all the details, it’s still a lot to take in. Throughout that period, a lot of characters have appeared in the series, some of which we are able to see in the ongoing Nier:Automata Ver1.1a anime series, and only die-hard NieR fans will know all of them. To help you find your way around, we have decided to rank the 15 best NieR characters based on their overall characterization and story, as well as their importance for the franchise. Enjoy!

15. Fisherman

Nier Replicant Remaster Fishing Guide

There is not a lot to tell about the Fisherman, who is the protagonist of the numerous Fisherman’s Gambit side-quests. He is an old guy living in Seafront who asks the player, constantly, to bring him some fish. Each time you do it, he wants another fish that is even more difficult to catch. He seems to have a lot of experience as he has numerous stories, some of which seems to last forever. Sadly, he never sees you catch the final fish, the hyneria, as he passess away before you can bring it back to him and show it to him.

We decided to start off our list on a lighter tone but every NieR fan will understand why the Fisherman ended up on this list. The guy was a complete nuisance and his tasks had absolutely no meaning whatsoever, but we all still did them and we learned how to be great fishermen thanks to this annoying old guy who is still dearly missed.

14. Louise

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Louise appears as a little girl who befriends Seafront’s postman. She is living in the wreckage of the ship on the beach in Seafront. It later turns out that she is an extremely powerful Gestalt whose regenerative abilities are absolutely amazing. She grew fond of the Postman but since he could not understand her, she wanted to become human and believed that by consuming people, she would become one. This is why she became a murderer.

Sadly, she never became a human and although she only did it because she cared for the Postman, she had to be defeated. She tried to learn human language as well and managed to leave a one clumsily written ”thank you” to him as a tragic parting gift, as was revealed in one of the playthroughs of the remastered NieR game.

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Louise was not present in the original NieR game, but she was part of the game’s PS4 remaster. Her story was quite intriuging and sad at the same time, because – like all the other Shades – she was never evil, she was just lost. This was a truly marvelous addition to the NieR role and Louise is a character that definitely deserved a spot on this list.

13. Adam and Eve

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Adam and Eve are two machines that have reached such a high evolution as to make them identical to human beings with a body of flesh and blood and a conscience. They are the main antagonists of Routes A and B. Their names have a clear reference to the two biblical characters Adam and Eve. Both have very fair skin and silver hair, yet have different personalities. Adam is the older brother, he is very attracted to human culture and tries to identify with men, for example by dressing in their image, to study their secrets.

Adam is cold, pragmatic, and enjoys discovering new things; he is willing to do anything to discover the secrets of life and of human beings. Eve, on the other hand, has a more immature personality and finds it boring to try to discover the essence of the human being; his only desire is to satisfy his older brother. Both possess unique abilities that make them the most powerful beings on the planet and the new rulers of the machines. Still, despite being villains, their final story has a much deeper meaning, which is completely in line with Taro’s usual storytelling methods.

Adam and Eve are quite interesting characters and while they are the antagonists, they actually have a much deeper sense to their existence and their overall importance for the story is much grater in terms of the future of the story, if we ever see it. They were interesting because they also became more humanoid than their original programming allowed for.

12. Fyra and the King of Facade

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When you first come to Facade, Fyra is a very helpful young girl that helps you get around town. The King of Facade, on the other hand, is a young and ambitious ruler who is a danger to himself. Still, he proves to be a very wise and loyal ruler who cares a lot about his people and is also very progressive when the numerous rules of Facade are concerned.

Their story seems to be a happy one, but on their wedding they, the Shades murder Fyra and thus add a touch of Yoko Taro’s usual tragedy to the story. The King of Facade later joins Nier and the group, along with his men, in the Shadowlord’s castle and helps them fight the Shades, sacrificing himself in the process.

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These two were inseparable and we simply had to list them together here. Fyra was a beautifully written and executed character who seemed to be a breath of fresh air in the story, whereas the King of Facade was a strong and noble leader who showed that he had more heart than we’d have thought initially. Their stories, although tragic, are one of the best in the series and that is why they ended up on the list.

11. Shadowlord

Shadowlord

The Shadowlord is the main antagonist of the original NieR game and the leader of the Shades. At one point in the game, he comes to kindap Yonah along with Grimoire Noir and takes her to his castle, from which Nier must free her. He is an exceptionally powerful Shade and was thought to be impossible to defeat. He also seemed like a truly menacing villain, but his actual backstory made him a truly tragical figure and one of the best written villains in the game.

The Shadowlord was the big baddie of the original NieR game and he was a truly menacing foe that you, as the player, definitely wanted to defeat because of what he did to Yonah. On the other hand, his complex and tragic story completely changed how we felt about him and the Shadowlord is actually a perfect example of how great of a storywriter Yoko Taro actually is.

10. Devola and Popola

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Devola and Popola are two android twins who have lived for more than a millennium, although their exact date of birth remains unknown. They have scarlet hair and look like two teenage girls. In the past, the androids of their class risked destroying the world and for this reason, all their models were destroyed, except for them, which gave them a chance to redeem themselves.

They feel a lot of pain for what their fellow men have done in the past and despite always trying to help they are discriminated against, insulted, and beaten. They are actually characters from the original NieR game who returned to Automata because it was possible due to their nature but with a constant feeling of guilt. They aid the protagonists and do not have a hidden agenda as they did in the first game. Their designs are also modernized when compared to the medieval clothing they had in NieR.

The duo absolutely had to land in the top ten. We don’t actually know what to think of Devola and Popola, because at one hand, they were only doing their jobs, but on the other hand, they were so devious in the original NieR game and so helpful and nice in Automata that it is difficult to determine whether you like them or not. What we can say is that they are truly awesome and they definitely deserve a place in the top ten.

9. 9S

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9S is a male scanner android, the protagonist of Routed B and D, and the main adversary of Route C. An android specialized in information gathering and hacking, however, he is also suited to combat. He has an emotional personality and is kind and polite, so much so that, early in their relationship, he refers to 2B of her as madam out of respect for the higher grade.

He always tries to help those in need and always tries to get 2B to be more selfless. Over time 2B and 9S form a close friendship until they bond with each other. 9S was a character that grew enormously in the game, from a mere assistant to a full-fledged character with both emotions and great development. His close bond with 2B and, also – in a way – A2 (although he fought the latter due to being angry over what happened to 2B), were the highlights of the game in terms of character development.

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9S might have ended up higher on our list, but the other characters are just more impactful. 9S was the chaos child in the end, and although he had a truly great story in the end, he always seemed to be like an attempt to replicate Emil and that did not work out that well. Still, 9S is a truly great character and definitely deserves a spot in the top ten.

8. Yonah

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Depending on the version, Yonah is either the protagonists sister (in Replicant) or daughter (in Gestalt). She is a young and fragile girl who wants to help her brother as much as she can, which is why she always tries to help him or cook for him, despite of her illness. Her incudable Black Scrawl is the reason why Nier goes on his journey to find the Sealed Verses, as it is suggested that it could cure her.

Later, she is kidnapped by the Shadowlord and taken to his castle, all to be fused with the real Yonah’s Sould, but the real Yonah refuses it and releases the Replicant Noah, also curing her from the Black Scrawl. She is a very caring and kindhearted girl, but she was not able to do much because of her disease.

Yonah is a beautifully written character in more ways than one. She played an enormously important role in the story and her ovearll development, as well as her ending, proved to be one of the most beautiful elements of the original NieR game, regardless of which version you played. Because of her importance for the franchise, Yonah simply had to land a spot in the top ten.

7. A2

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A2 is a female assault android, the protagonist of Route C and the main adversary of Route D. She is an android defector who, before the events of the main storyline, actively participated in the missions of destroying the machines, but after a particular event she decided to defect and destroy the machines by herself. Like 2B, she has a very closed personality and can hardly speak.

She deeply hates machines and wishes to destroy them; indeed she finds it absurd to find peaceful machines like in the village of Pascal. However, with time, she builds a close friendship with Pascal and his machine village, helping him in protecting his people. She doesn’t like being ordered around and prefers to work alone. Like 2B, she too carries a horrible past which she tries to hide. A2 appeared much later in the original game so it is going to be interesting to see how Yoko Taro integrated her into the story from the very beginning.

In a similar fashion like 2B, who is going to appear on this list later on, A2 managed to surpass her programming and become a character with a soul, which is why she stands out among the others, especially those from Automata. She has a pretty unique story and the twists presented by Taro involving her are so great that we absolutely had to give her such a high spot on our list.

6. Pascal

Pascal

Pascal is a peaceful machine who has created a village where machines can live in peace and quiet. Fascinated by human culture, Pascal seeks any information about their world trying to learn everything, including human emotions. In fact, despite being a machine, he has learned a lot about emotions and seems to be able to feel them.

Although Pascal doesn’t consider himself a leader, his machines recognize her as their boss. Although the machines are genderless, he identifies as a male even if he uses a female voice, to be more friendly to the ears of others. Pascal is one of the game’s best characters and has one of the best stories of all of them, both in relation to other characters (especially A2), but also as a standalone character, especially during the game’s ending.

Pascal’s story is so sad and heartberaking that we couldn’t ignore the fact that it is among the best Taro has presented us with. Pascal is a secondary character, but a character with a lasting impact and a character that you cannot but love wholeheartedly. He is one of the best examples of the ideals and ideas represented by Yoko Taro and that is why we have decided to rank him so high up, above many other more important characters in the series.

5. Kainé

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A young woman with a mysterious background that will be revealed in the game variants for endings B, C and D. She meets Nier quite early and accompanies him from then on. This character attracted particular attention because it was introduced as an intersex female and because of her language, which consists largely of profanities.

Kainé was actually abused as a child because she was different and was cared for by her grandmother, who wasn’t her biological grandmother. She liked to draw as a child. One day, a giant Shade killed her Grandmother and she later accepted Nier’s help in having her revenge. She ends up caring for Yonah after Nier’s original death, but later helps in his resurrection in Ending E of NieR.

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As far as Kainé is concerned, the innate oddness of her character, as well as the inability to reconcile her story and behavior with her gentle, feminine appearance, is why she is a perfect character for Yoko Taro’s world. She has been a fan-favorite ever since the original game came out and it is completely clear why we actually placed her in the top five of our list, because NieR would definitely not be what it is were it not for Kainé and her unique personality.

4. Grimoire Weiss

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Grimoire Weiss is a floating magic book found in NieR early in the game. From then on, it serves as his inventory and logbook, among other things, and enables Nier to use magic and improve weapons. Weiss primarily stands out because of his arrogant attitude, which always makes for amusing situations.

It is later revealed that Weiss was just part of a larger project whose sole purpose was to unite the Gestalts and the Replicants in an attempt to save humanity, but Weiss managed to surpass his original programming and became a character with a truly free soul. He was the source of arcane knowledge, as well as some powerful spells.

Everyone who’s ever played the original NieR game certainly loves Weiss. His sarcastic comments, his flamboyant egoism, and the assistance he has provided to the group are why Weiss is so important. The great thing about this character is that he was hiding his true emotions and that he actually cared about Nier and all of his friends more than he was letting on. Also, he was the funniest character in the whole series without a doubt.

3. Emil

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A boy who joins Nier’s group later in the game. Emil is cursed to turn everything he looks at into stone. For this reason he has been blindfolded for as long as he can remember and is taken care of by a butler (Sebastian) in a mansion. The game provides an explanation for this curse relatively quickly after the first encounter with Emil, who then undergoes a transformation but continues to accompany the group.

Emil desperately tries to keep the group together because the group is like a family to him, something he has been yearning for since he was a small child. Emil’s tragic backstory is one of the darkest elements of the whole franchise, and it actually perfectly explains his sacrifice at the end of the NieR game. Still, Emil managed to survive and kept yearning for his friends throughout the NieR:Automata game, which only added to the greatness of his story.

In many way, Emil is the best character of the series and we agree that he wholly deserves the first place in the same manner as numbers two and three on this list, but we decided to give the other two an advantage because they are the protagonists of their respective games and carry the plot by embodying the ideals of the main narrative. Emil, on the other hand, is probably the best-written character whose innate tragedy perfectly fits into the world of Yoko Taro, and there is no way that his importance and greatness can be overestimated, so we put him in the top three, right next to the protagonists.

2. Nier

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The main character of the game. He is an adult male (in Gestalt) or a younger boy (in Replicant). His daughter (in Gestalt) or little sister (in Replicant) Yonah was stricken with a mysterious disease called the “runic plague,” leaving Nier solely devoted to finding a cure. On the way, he befriends Weiss, Kainé, and Emil, who help him on his journey and in fighting the common enemies they meet.

Nier is a very devoted character who, while never losing track of his main goal, always helps those who are in need of help, which is why the original NieR game had so many side quests. His connection to the Shadow Lord was actually a major shock in the story of NieR and was something that drastically changed the perception of the world Yoko Taro had created.

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And while we’re – personally – fans of the younger Nier, both version are actually more or less the same (although the older one looks cruder). Why did we pick him for second spot? Although a lot of fans will agree that he is one of the more typical characters in the series – because he is a traditional hero in many ways – he is the namesake of the whole series and his overall role in the whole world of NieR, once you actually dig deeper into the story and find out the whole truth, is something that cannot be disregarded and has to be honored in the proper way.

1. 2B

2B

2B is a female combat android, the protagonist of Route A. A very charming android, she has a cold personality and speaks very little, preferring to carry out her missions in peace. She discourages idle conversation about unimportant topics and is typically reserved with others. Unlike her companion, she respects the chain of command greatly and rarely challenges directives.

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She is a decent and sensitive person who bears painful anguish inside, yet her character is so frigid because of psychological scarring from a childhood tragedy. Her story develops as the game progresses and she becomes increasingly complex, both in terms of her story, and her emotions, especially towards 9S. In the end, she manages to break free from her programming and develop a sense of humanity, which made her an amazing character in every way possible. Along with 9S and A2, she is a major protagonist in the series.

2B, as the protagonist of NieR:Automata, became a standout character, not just because she was characterized in the best possible way, but also because she was – as an android – able to surpass her programing and become a character with a soul, more than some actual human beings. And while she does live on the legacy of the original game, she is nevertheless the most complete character in the series and the embodiment of all the ideals that Yoko Taro wanted to show throughout the series.

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