There are very few surprises if you compile a list of the best video game characters of all time. Although classics such as Sonic, Mario, Sonic, and Samus will remain a part of the fabric of video games, they are all from a different era. Their iconic status is undisputed. The only question is how they would rank among the top 10. They may have been in modern games with varying degrees of success, but they are ultimately children of the Eighties or Nineties.
You can see a completely different picture of the way video games present their most influential characters if you remove them from the equation and instead focus on those who made their debuts in this century. These characters are a powerful reminder of how games have changed in general since Xbox and PlayStation 2.
When compiling this list, I took into account more than 100 characters. There were heated arguments and strong opinions about which faces are “iconic” in modern games.
50 Best Video Game Characters of All Time
Here is my list of the top video game characters that are undisputed legends and are worthy of our reverence.
50. Robed Figure
Journey’s unnamed figure dressed in a red robe may not have a name nor a story. But they are a symbol for indie gaming for a whole generation. Their journey takes them to a mountainous location with multiple endings. Most agree that the true magic of the game lies in its meandering, upbeat path. The journey is the game’s reward, to use a cliché
Note: Multiplayer games are characterized by a game where player characters can communicate in only sonorous chime sounds. However, the first time you make contact with someone new, it feels a thousand times more meaningful than any verbal man slaps uttered into headsets during competitive shooters.
49. Vaas Montenegro
You are the most memorable video gaming enemy. M Bison. Andrew Ryan. Psycho Mantis. Far Cry 3 may not be as revered as Street Fighter, Bioshock, or Metal Gear Solid, but its antagonist deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. Vaas’ drug-addled brain believes that the lunatics are those he holds to ransom on Rook Island. He seems to think that giving “two grand” to the first motherfucker who brings Jason Brody’s nutsack is perfectly normal and even hilarious.
Note: His monologue about the definition of insane, which may differ from your usual clinical diagnosis. “Did you ever know what insanity means? Insanity means doing the exact… same thing over and over, expecting… that to change… It is. Crazy.” Vass would be proud.
It had already delivered one of the most outstanding female leads in 11 years. She was a super-sharp, osmium tough journo-spy Jade. Names like Faith, Elena Fisher, and Chell are all martial artists, parkour experts, and brainiacs all rolled into one. They all have traits that were inherited from Michel Ancel’s brilliantly skilled troubleshooter. The most important thing is that they were undisputed success stories without any overt sexualization.
Note: Jade fails to rescue her porcine guardian Pey’j from a slaughterhouse in the first game. However, she later revives him using her mysterious, shiny powers. This is a scene that would be right at home in a Disney movie.
Gomez, a being with no known enemies in the universe, has it rough. After receiving a red fiz, the cutest of white walkers witnessed the destruction of a spacetime-based golden hexahedron. The result was that his 2D world became 3D. He had to rely upon someone else, you, to guide him through his new universe. He is a nephew-of–Stay–Puft mega head. It’s partly also because it is a joy to bounce around Fez’s treasure-packed and ingeniously designed levels. You won’t be criticized for letting him go. There are many.
46. Tommy Vercetti
It is risky to base a videogame character on an icon like Al Pacino’s Scarface character. Rockstar, however, isn’t afraid to roll his snake eyes, as we have seen many times over the last two decades. Vercetti’s story is very similar to that of Mr. T. Montana. He was exiled from his hometown, and his path to power was smacked with cocaine and blood. His large mansion and short fuse are comparable to those of the film’s most dangerous blow-dealer. Vercetti is a criminal in his own right. Still, one accomplishment leaves him in a different crime league: Tommy after his former employers turn green eyes into bullets, and he becomes the kingpin of Vice City, and for many, of the GTA series.
45. Agent 47
Their “Hitman,” as wrestling fans know him, as “it was the best, and it will be the best.” Bret Hart, the murderous namesake of the hitman, can also claim the same slogan about the assassination. The shaven-headed killer of IO is a classic but never bettered. His list of death methods exceeds any cookbook. Highlights include dragging a garbage man into his truck and shooting at the glass from the bottom of a clifftop tub. Agent 47 was the first infamy discovered in 2000. He has survived four generations of humiliation by reinventing himself in every way possible, unlike many of his victims.
44. Dog (Duck Hunt)
The dog who collects the ducks a player shoots is known only as “Dog” and has a winning smile that makes him one of our most famous video game characters. It’s not a joke, but “Dog” wouldn’t have made it to the list without his appearance in Super Smash Bros. This has made him a lot more popular with younger gamers. The dog’s only purpose is to make us smile every time he does this. He also laughs when a player misses, which makes him one of the most annoying characters ever.
Medusa believed she was a fearsome figure because she had venomous hair snakes. However, Bayonetta’s eponymous shapeshifter would have made her very angry. Platinum Games’ femme fatale – never before had that expression been more literal – uses her bounteous locks to summon extremely violent demons. Although she can’t turn victims to stones with her superhuman abilities, they enable her to do a range of balletic, bullet-slinging moves and mold rainwater into spears. She also allows her to hijack vehicles using her middle hand.
42. M. Bison
M. Bison, known as the Dictator, is the ultimate embodiment of evil and the main antagonist in Street Fighter. He didn’t appear until Street Fighter II. M. Bison, like many other villains, has one goal: to overthrow the world. His underground crime syndicate, Shadaloo, helps him achieve this goal. He is known for his in-game abilities, including an energy attack in which he spins in midair at his opponent. His incomprehensible “Ooga”, which he shouts during matches while he punches, is a trademark.
41. Doctor Albert W. Wiley
Mega Man’s nemesis, Dr. Wily, is a jealous hack that you may not have heard of unless you’ve played Mega Man and watched the animated cartoon, where his character developed. Dr. Wily, a jealous hack, is angry at Dr. Light’s accomplishments that created Mega Man. Dr. Wily. In his anger, Dr. Wily reprogrammed much robotics to become fighters in the last hope of…yes…taking the world over.
40. Sarah Louise Kerrigan
It is difficult to list a list without at minimum one Blizzard character. Sarah Kerrigan is the standout. StarCraft and Heroes of the Storm are two of her Blizzard franchises. Before StarCraft was out of favor, she was the face of competitive gaming. Kerrigan, also known as the Queen Of The Blades, is an in-game assassin who uses her psychic abilities to gain knowledge and defeat her enemies. She is a character in many Blizzard stories and featured in many novels about StarCraft.
God of War announced the Norse-era version of its game. Fans were treated to a young boy emerging from the digital forest when the announcement was made. Atreus is Kratos’ son. Atreus has the unique ability to hear the thoughts and feelings of the forest creatures, which can be used to your advantage in the game. The journey of Atreus in the game is both emotionally and physically complex. He must learn about himself and the place he has in the world.
38. Fox McCloud
Fox McCloud is the favorite anthropomorphic Fox among gamers. Fox McCloud is the leader of the Star Fox group, and players can control him aboard Arwing. Fox is a gun-for-hire who is hired to complete various missions and… you get the picture…save all of humanity. He is often compared to Luke Skywalker in video games because he displays great courage and heroism through the series of games.
37. Trevor Philips
How can Trevor Philips manage to wear sweatpants every single day? It’s easy. It’s easy. Philips is an easily played character in Grand Theft Auto V and one that will be most remembered. This is partly due to the outstanding acting of Steve Ogg, who used motion-sensing controls and voiced Philips’ character. Although he is a terrible character in the game, Philips has a heart. This is evident in his popularity among the GTA– players and that he is the main character to play online.
36. Gordon Freeman
You can make a scientist and a researcher into a weapon-wielding hero, and you will have some awesome weapons. Half-Life’s protagonist Gordon Freeman can wield everything, from an energy-field manipulator and a gluon gun. After being the only survivor of a major attack, Freeman must now fight an alien race called headcrabs. The game reveals that Freeman was a researcher and did very little to have any effect. Now, Freeman must save the planet headcrab by headcrab.
Final Fantasy VI featured Terra; Final Fantasy XII featured Ashe. But it wasn’t until Final Fantasy XIII, which was 22 years later, that Square Enix finally committed to a female protagonist. It was only a matter of time. She was named the most important female character in the series by fans in 2014. Perhaps because she isn’t so unbelievable, she’s a down-to-earth (but ethereally beautiful) person who can take on badassery when necessary.
Many players recognize her as the voice they hear when they learn about the Halo storyline. Cortana, an artificially intelligent character, provides information throughout the game. She also figures into the story. She is also a part of the Master Chief’s complex family. She is artificially intelligent but also has real emotional depth. This critiques the notion that robots cannot be human-like.
33. Sam Fisher
Sam Fisher is the protagonist of both the Splinter Cell and a series of Tom Clancy novels. He’s your classic black-ops hero video game. He is proficient in computers and can track down bad guys. He is part of a fictional NSA branch called the “Third Echelon”, and is involved in several undercover missions. He is later promoted to leader of the “Fourth Echelon,” a branch with direct access to the President of America.
32. Diddy Kong
Diddy Kong is a mini-Kong and contains more chimpanzee components than Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong Island is home to Diddy Kong and Donkey Kong, where they play, explore, and romp together. Diddy Kong might not be as well-known as Donkey Kong, but he is a fan favorite and has his own set of Nintendo games like Diddy Kong Racing or Diddy Kong Quest. Diddy Kong can jump higher and climb better than Donkey Kong in-game.
31. Ellie (The Last of Us)
The beloved video game character everyone loves, Ellie, will soon be played by Bella Ramsey on the HBO series The last of Us. Joe Miller also appears on this list and escorts her through the US as she is one of the few plague survivors. She is humanity’s last hope to overcome the horrible infection. She subverts the stereotypes of a little girl in fear, making her unique and winning the respect of many gamers. Her acceptance by the LGBT community has made her one of the most openly gay characters in video games.
30. Jill Valentine
This is the character you would want to take with you if you were going into a scary house. Jill Valentine has seen everything and keeps returning for more. She is fighting the Umbrella Corporation, which uses genetic mutations and drugs to unleash the world’s zombies and other evil creatures. A few Resident Evil films have helped her cement her place on the most iconic videogame characters list.
29. Bigg Boss (Snake)
Father of “Solid Snake,” which appears later on this list, Big Boss, appropriately named, is the leader of an elite group of terrorists-—Outer Heaven. Many critics agree that Big Boss’s transformation into a villain makes him such a memorable character. Prequels to the main storyline reveal Big Boss as a special forces officer disillusioned when he’s betrayed and lied about. He was known as “Naked Snake” before he was lied to and betrayed. However, he is commonly referred to in the game as “Snake.”
Spyro is the cutest dragon in video games. Spyro, as cute as he is, can still breathe fire with the best of them. He can also charge at enemies to knock them down. He can glide in-game, which allows him to land on difficult-to-reach areas and platforms. He was a unique platform gamer, and this made the gameplay even more interesting.
27. Ezio Auditore da Firenze
The game Assassin’s Creed received high praises for its creativity in story-telling and gameplay when it was released. The game’s main character, Desmond Miles, is a descendant of Desmond Miles. This was a big reason for its success. Desmond uses force to return to the memories of his ancestor so that a secret organization can discover the truth about the past.
He was one of the first playable characters in Mortal Kombat and quickly became a fan favorite. Scorpion is an undead Ninja who seeks revenge for his death and the deaths of his family. Quan Chi is his main foe. He is an evil sorcerer. Sub-Zero is his main rival. He is a ninja of a rival clan and bears some resemblances to Scorpion. His signature move in the game is to throw his spear with a rope attached, shocking and pulling his enemies towards him.
25. Marcus Fenix
The government turns an ex-escaped convict into a weapon This is a new story. Although Marcus Fenix may not have the most unique background of any of the characters. He has the hearts of everyone familiar with the Gears of War franchise. He is your typical tough guy who takes down each baddie to save the world.
24. Joel Miller
Joel Miller will likely move up the list after HBO’s upcoming series, The Last of Us, is released. Pedro Pascal will play Joel Miller’s character, as he is well-known for his role as the Mandalorian in Star Wars.
Joel guides Ellie, a little girl, through a landscape that a deadly virus has ravaged. They try to get the girl to a spot where she can recover her immunity. Joel, despite being a complex character at times, is very likable. His heroicness and friendliness have won him many fans.
Imagine being kicked off by Chun Li. Yes, it would hurt. Chun Li is a Chinese Martial Artist, Interpol Officer, and an overall wickedly cool character. M. Bison has been the victim of her father’s murder. She is determined to get revenge. Some consider her one of the most incredible moves in the game, and she is well-known for her flipping attach.
22. Duke Nukem
Duke Nukem is the most in love with himself than anyone! Fans love him. His skills with sidearms and his RayBan sunglasses are what make him famous. In the earliest versions of Duke Nukem, he was a quiet assassin and barely spoke. This changed as Nukem became a more hyper-macho-action character in later games of the series. He also adopted a somewhat snarky outlook. John Cena is being considered for the role of Duke Nukem in a film.
He can be played in several spinoffs, and Super Smash Bros., Toad, serves as Princess Peach’s assistant and attendant. Toad is also representative of the many Toads who make up the Mushroom Kingdom. Despite his small role in most of the games’ content, Toad is a popular character with gamers. He’s adorable and maybe the jolliest character Nintendo has ever created.
20. John Marston
John Marston, the Red Dead Redemption series protagonist, is a straight-attainment Western movie star and everyone’s favorite gun-for-hire. Marston must track down and kill his former gang mates to ensure his family’s safe return to the US government. Marston is a captivating Western-themed hero because he can be both a hero and villain. While we are well aware of his past, we sympathize with Marston’s struggle to get back to family life.
Bowser is one of the most iconic antagonists in gaming. He made his debut as the classic villain who takes Princess Peach from Mario. Bowser is just as obsessed with Princess Peach as he is with the Mushroom Kingdom. His popularity was instant in the most popular video game franchises, and he has appeared in almost every Mario game since that first appearance. Bowser is the most irritable turtle we have ever seen!
18. Cloud Strife
Cloud Strife, the main character of what many consider to be the best video game ever made. It is instantly recognizable by most video game enthusiasts with its spikey blonde hair and giant sword, The Buster Sword. Cloud’s turbulent past is something many can relate to. Cloud’s origins lie with the SOLDIER Group, but he becomes a rebel with AVALANCHE later. He is the protagonist of the story and leads the party throughout the game.
Kratos could easily be a bouncer at the most challenging bars in the world, and that’s a lot of what he is. Kratos is named after the Greek god of the same name. The God of War series features Kratos as a hero and a villain, while the player learns his tragic backstory. This character is famous because of his complexity, which is based on authentic narratives from Greek Mythology.
16. Big Daddy
In the ultimate steampunk robot dream, Big Daddy is essentially a mechanized human who’s been heavily “spliced.” His role in the game is to protect the Little Sisters who appear throughout Rapture. Players encounter Big Daddy often during the game when trying to acquire ADAM—a substance that gives energy and strength to the players in the game.
And as long as you don’t mess with the Little Sisters, Big Daddy will not harm you during gameplay. But harm the Little Sisters, and a player will be facing quite a menacing foe. What contributes to his iconic stature is both the popularity of the game BioShock and the incredible design of the character itself.
Kitana is a playable role in the Mortal Kombat series of games. She is also the princess of the Outworld and later the ruler. Jade is her best friend, and she fights alongside Jade to overthrow the Outland rulers. Kitana believed her father was Shao Khan in the beginning, but she later learned that her father was King Jerrod. She then killed him.
Kitana is a favorite Mortal Kombat character for many because she was among the first female characters in the game. Her storyline is much better than that of most female video games characters.
14. Tom Nook
Tom Nook is cute but greedy in the game Animal Crossing. Tom Nook is the only real estate agent in town and sells players their first home when they begin the game. He also runs the village store. Many people dislike Tom Nook, seeing him as an exploitative opportunist who is greedy and does little good. Some people love Tom Nook and view him as a smart businessman. He’s a well-known character in a series of games that have sold over 50 million units.
Although he may not be as prominent on our list as his fraternal brother, many gamers prefer Luigi more. One, his outfit is a stunning shade of green. Luigi, like his older brother Mario, is a plumber. However, his traits are slightly different from Mario. Mario is brave, but Luigi is more shy, timid, and scared. You can see the evidence in Luigi’s Mansion. It is a beautiful game. Luigi can jump higher in some games, but his jumping is sometimes a bit awkward.
Note: Luigi was inspired to create the Nintendo logo by a pizza joint near Washington’s Nintendo offices. It was named “Mario & Luigi’s,” and so the names of the plumbers were born.
Yoshi, the adorable dinosaur sidekick of Mario & Luigi, is here! Yoshi was the first character to be rideable in a videogame. He first appeared in Dinosaur Land in Super Mario World. He can grab objects using his tongue and spit them out aflame or place them in an egg that the player throws.
He is a side character in many Mario games, but he also has his series of games to play the main character. He is also a popular character in the Mario Kart series. Yoshi is the most well-known video game dragon, even though he’s more adorable than frightening!
Note: Designers originally designed Yoshi to appear in the Super Mario Bros. game. They even created drawings of him for that game. Unfortunately, due to limitations in processing speed at that time, a rideable character was not possible.
11. Commander Shepard
Players can choose to have Commander Shepard either male or female, even though we show the female version. To maintain a neutral gender atmosphere, the dialogue was carefully written. This is a big reason Commander Shepard is so beloved by gamers. The player can customize They into a most enjoyable character for them to use in the game.
Mass Effect is also one of the most popular video games and one of the most well-written ever created. Commander Shepard is a compelling protagonist with a story that’s character-driven, like a great novel.
Note: Developers chose the character’s name in honor of astronaut Alan Shepard who was the first American to go into space.
If one Pokemon becomes the franchise’s defining Pokémon, it is truly something special. Pikachu is the perfect example of this. Pikachu is so popular because he is Ash Ketchum’s partner and the starter Pokemon in the anime series. Pikachu is so adorable! Ryan Reynolds voices Pikachu in a film about him.
Note: Pikachu was among ten Japanese mascots at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
9. Geralt of Rivia
Henry Cavill most recently played Geralt of Rivia on the television series The Witcher. It is now well-known even among non-gamers. Geralt, a magic demon hunter and “Witcher,” has magical abilities attributed to genetic mutations.
Although the video doesn’t go into as much detail as the TV show or the novels, it provides information about Geralt of Rivia’s training and his quests. You will need to combine gameplay and TV binging if you want to experience the character.
Note: Geralt of Rivia is most well-known for his appearances in short stories and novels written by Andrzej Sapkowski. You can purchase a box set with all the Witcher novels, which have been translated into English.
8. Master Chief
Master Chief is the iconic super soldier protagonist from the Halo series. He holds a particular spot in the hearts and minds of those who grew up with the shooting game franchise. His motivation and character are often compared to Spiderman and Superman. He’s a protector and is as tough as anyone. This love may stem from players allowing themselves to be Chief and speak for them.
Note: Master Chief’s only appearance is when he defeats Halo 4, on the hardest difficulty.
This Ryu is not to be confused with Ryu, who is the protagonist of the Fire series. Ryu is also the main character of Street Fighter. He is a Japanese martial artist based on Mas Oyama. Ryu grew more robust over time and performed a broader range of defensive and attacking moves. Ryu is probably the most famous fighting-game character.
Byron Mann played Ryu in the 1994 film version. Ryu and Ken also found their way into animated shorts and films. Ryu is well-known for his misquote: “You have to defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance.”
6. Mega Man
I include him because he is a character from the Capcom classic video game series Mega Man. Mega Man, the bionic hero, is a bionic hero who jumps very high and shoots energy pulses from his arm cannon. He was also a fixture on the video game cartridge shelves back in the day if you were a fan of games.
Mega Man can gain new abilities and attributes in each version of Mega Man, which has been numerous. Mega Man is a classic character and should be among the top ten most famous characters in video games.
Note: Mega Man introduced a unique gameplay feature: stealing weapons from downed robotic enemies. The players had a choice of rewards and options for defeating their enemies. It’s now a common element in many RPGs, side-scrollers, and other games.
Many people mistakenly call Link Zelda. However, Zelda is the name of the princess Link tries to rescue in the various Legend of Zelda games. Link is the sword-fighting and arrow-shooting hero in the games the player controls. Link wields legendary swords such as Master Sword in the games and uses other legendary artifacts for his quests.
Link’s status as a classic hero of coming-of-age is what makes him so famous. In many ways, he’s pure and uses only a few grunts or groans in the games. Players still love Link more than Zelda.
Note: Designers chose the name Link because it would connect the three “Triforce” computer chips, which represent different periods.
4. Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong was one of the first video games characters to appear. He started by throwing wooden buckets down slopes at Jumpman. He is also one of few video games characters who started as a villain and then became a hero in the later games. He was a popular character in Donkey Kong Country and has been a beloved Nintendo character ever since.
Donkey Kong was based on King Kong by Universal Studios. Nintendo even sued them for trademark infringement.
3. Lara Croft
Angelina Jolie portrayed Lara Croft in multiple films. She quickly rose to the top of our list at number 2. It’s easy to see why she is so beloved by video gamers.
She was one of the original female characters in video games to break away from some old stereotypes. She is well-educated and can kickbutt with the best. Developers have made Lara Croft’s character more appealing to fans over the years.
Note: her father’s disappearance drives Lara, the daughter of an archeologist and an archeologist. She searches for clues in remote places around the globe and finds some incredible old artifacts.
Pac-Man was the first character in a video game to become a brand and be merchandised. What’s so special about a yellow circle eating up tiny dots? Namco, the company that owns Pac-Man’s rights, actually gave him a whole backstory. He is a married man with two children. He is a person who embodies the entire videogame industry, with a kind and adventurous personality in later games.
Mario is an animated character from Nintendo. He is the main character in the highly-acclaimed and long-running Super Mario series. He is Nintendo’s mascot character and is widely considered the most successful Nintendo video game character. His younger brother Luigi and he are Nintendo’s most well-known characters. Their games have been sold to more than 262 million worldwide. These and other factors have made him the Nintendo mascot and the most iconic video game character. Shigeru Miyamoto created him for the arcade game Donkey Kong.