Video games are first and foremost entertainment, from shooters and action games to RPGs and puzzles, the main goal is to be entertained. However, some creators managed to truly turn them into art, with gorgeous visuals and thought-provoking stories. What makes a good game even better are its protagonists, villains, and supporting characters and this is what we’re going to deal with today. We’ve prepared for you a list of the most iconic video game characters ever created.
Some characters managed to gain a spot on this list due to how popular and well-known they are, some lesser-known characters landed on the list because of their backstories and fleshed-out personalities, and some landed here because of their overall badassery. The list of characters is unranked and in no particular order so, without further ado, let’s take a look at our list of best video game characters of all time.
70. Vaas Montenegro (Far Cry)
Vaas is a memorable secondary antagonist from Far Cry 3. His rant about the definition of insanity is probably among the most quoted video game lines of all time.
69. Tommy Vercetti (Grand Theft Auto)
Tommy Makes his appearance in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. He was based on Al Pacino’s Scarface and like his movie counterpart, he is easily one of the best-known kingpins in gaming.
68. Agent 47 (Hitman)
Clean, quick, professional, and most importantly innovative when it comes to assassinations. No list of iconic video game characters is complete without Agent 47 from the Hitman series.
67. Dog (Duck Hunt)
Dog landed on this list because of his popularity with older gamers. Duck Hunt entertained us long before flashy games became a standard.
66. Bayonetta (Bayonetta)
Graceful, yet deadly. There are no better words to describe Platinum Games’ femme fatale. Although not the most popular character on this list, Bayonetta is sure among the most memorable ones.
65. M. Bison (Street Fighter)
M. Bison is the archetype of a villain with stereotypical goals of ruling the world from Street Fighter. What makes him special is his over-the-top nature and execution of his goals.
64. Sarah Louise Kerrigan (Starcraft / Heroes of the Storm)
Queen of Blades has an extremely tragic backstory, she started out as a Confederate Ghost operative only to turn into one of the most iconic video game villains of all time.
63. Atreus (God of War)
Kratos’ son Atreus doesn’t have a backstory as long as most of the characters on this list are. He managed to secure a spot because of the emotional and physical journey we witnessed.
62. Fox McCloud (Star Fox)
Fox McCloud is one of the biggest and most lovable heroes of the Star Fox series. This anthropomorphic fox is on a neverending quest to save all of humanity.
61. Trevor Philips (Grand Theft Auto)
Trevor Philips appears in GTA V. He is rotten to the core but near the end of the day, you realize there is a human heart beating underneath that sweaty, sweatpants-clad exterior.
60. Gordon Freeman (Half-Life)
Rise and shine Mr. Freeman, rise and shine. Gordon Freeman turned from a mousy scientist to the savior of humanity overnight. He develops awesome tech and tries to save the planet killing one headcrab at a time.
59. Lightning (Final Fantasy)
Down to earth and badass, there’s no better way to describe Lightning from the Final Fantasy series.
58. Cortana (Halo)
57. Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell)
Sam Fisher is a resident badass in the Splinter Cell series. Although a decent guy through and through, he won’t play by the rules when his dear ones are concerned.
56. Diddy Kong (Donkey Kong / Mario)
Diddy Kong is not the most recognizable character in the franchise, however, he is one of the most endearing.
55. Ellie (The Last of Us)
Ellie was forced to grow up overnight over the course of the game. She managed to break down the stereotypes of little scared girls and proved herself to be a valuable asset in the story.
54. Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
One of the most resourceful characters in gaming, Jill Valentine from Resident Evil is everything you need to prevail against Umbrella Corporation. She is easily one of the most recognizable female characters of all time.
53. Big Boss / Snake ( Metal Gear)
Even though Big Boss followed a traditional path from hero to villain due to betrayal, he is still easily one of the most recognizable characters in the series.
52. Spyro (Spyro)
A protagonist of one of the best platforms games of all time. Spyro is the most recognizable dragon in gaming, and there are a lot of dragons in gaming.
51. Ezio Auditore da Firenze (Assassin’s Creed)
We’ve played through many characters over the course of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, none are as memorable as Ezio however.
50. Scorpion (Mortal Kombat)
When you think about Mortal Kombat Scorpion is one of the first characters you can think of. Obviously, he is on the list due to the pure badassery of being an undead ninja.
49. Marcus Fenix (Gears of War)
Marcus Fenix is a convict-turned-weapon-turned-hero. He pushes the classic “tough guy” narrative and we love him for it.
48. Joel Miller (The Last of Us)
Joel was mostly criticized for not trusting humanity, sadly by the end of the second game he was proven right. There’s barely anything left to save.
47. Chun-Li (Street Fighter)
Badass female character from Street Fighter with killer moves. She is the aforementioned M. Bison’s worst nightmare.
46. Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem)
Snarky narcissist Duke Nukem managed to win everyone with his infectious and humorous personality. He is one of the most iconic action characters of all time.
45. John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
John Marston is a perfect “grey” character. On one hand, his shady past perfectly fits the villain narrative, and on the other hand, he would do everything for his family and you can almost see where he’s coming from. John is an example of a perfectly written Western character.
44. JC Denton (Deus-Ex)
JC Denton from Deus-Ex is a definition of a stoic rebel. What started as a classic story of blind loyalty turned into a fight for freedom of epic proportions.
43. Kratos (God of War)
Kratos is sometimes a villain sometimes a hero. The character definitely presented us with a complexity we would never have expected from a game of this caliber.
42. Big Daddy (Bioshock)
Bioshock is most known for its unique settings and interesting characters. Big Daddy is just one of the intelligently designed but menacing foes you will encounter in the game.
41. Kitana (Mortal Kombat)
One more deadly gal on this list. Her unique and well-fleshed-out storyline easily makes her one of the most recognizable female characters in video games.
40. Tom Nook (Animal Crossing)
Tom Nook is an embodiment of greed that hails from the Animal Crossing franchise. If you consider Nook to be an exploitative opportunist, millions of players agree with you.
39. Luigi (Mario)
Luigi is the less popular of the two brothers from the Super Mario franchise, however, that doesn’t mean that he is not instantly recognizable by well, almost everyone.
38. Commander Shepard (Mass Effect)
Depending on how you decide to play him Commander Shepard can be a noble self-sacrificing hero or a ruthless and calculating operative. No matter what your choices were, he got the job done and managed to save the planet way or another.
37. Pikachu (Pokemon)
Pikachu is a rat-based Pokemon that comes to your mind when you think about Pokemon in general. There’s no denying that he is one of the most iconic fictional characters in general not only in Pokemon games.
36. Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher)
Master Witcher! A brooding, stoic monster hunter with a heart of gold. Even though he is quite recent on the gaming scene, Geralt managed to win the hearts of many.
35. Master Chief (Halo)
Super-soldier from the Halo series and a resident tough guy. Master Chief is the most recognizable character from the Halo franchise.
34. Adam Jensen (Deus-Ex)
One of the most popular lone wolves in gaming. Adam Jensen rarely relies on others but you can bet everyone around him can rely on him at all times.
33. Link (The Legend of Zelda)
Link was the first encounter with a classic archetypal hero for many people. He will forever be remembered for his selfless nature.
32. Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong)
Donkey Kong is hands down, one of the most famous animals in gaming in general. This loveable brute started out as a villain and over the years made a transition into a true hero.
31. Lara Croft (Lara Croft)
Lara Croft is one more femme fatale on this list. Even though her character evolved over the years she still maintained integrity and originality, breaking off from classic stereotypes.
30. Pac-Man (Pac-Man)
You would be surprised that the memorable character from the iconic arcade game, Pac-Man, is a loving married father of two children. In his free time, he relaxes by devouring tiny dots on the screen.
29. Arthas Menethil (Warcraft)
Arthas created a mold for many tragic heroes to come. He started out as a gallant prince loyal to his people, but desperation and evil forces turned him into one of the most iconic villains gaming has ever seen.
28. Sylvanas Windrunner (Warcraft)
Who better to follow Arthas than our Dark Lady? Sylvanas sacrificed everything including her own sanity to ensure the survival of her people. The only thing that Sylvanas ever wanted was peace, either to be alive and breathing again, or properly dead.
27. Captain Price (Call of Duty)
The immortal Captain Price hails from the Call of Duty franchise. Marked with his glorious mustache, he is the biggest badass in the franchise.
26. Mordin Solus (Mass Effect)
Our favorite Salarian scientist. Mordin has one of the best and most impactful side stories in the whole Mass Effect franchise.
25. Nathan Drake (Uncharted)
Roguish Nathan Drake comes from the Uncharted franchise, he is one of the newest characters on this list, and yet with his infectious personality, he managed to win the hearts of many.
24. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic the Hedgehog)
The most famous speedster in gaming. This blue hedgehog has seen many adaptations due to its enormous popularity.
23. Dovahkiin (Elder Scrolls)
Dragonborn landed on this list due to the general badassery of the character. A mortal man, or woman with the ability to devour dragon souls? Sign me up.
22. Doom Guy (Doom)
No story, no character development, no intricate dialogue, just a chainsaw and demons ripe for slaying. Doom Guy is the most badass character in gaming.
21. Max Payne (Max Payne)
Max Payne is a man with nothing to lose, on a path of revenge, taking part in one of the grittiest stories gaming has ever seen.
20. Arthur Morgan (Red Dead Redemption)
Arthur placed his loyalties on the wrong person and paid the ultimate price for it. Still, he was loyal and honorable till the end.
19. Illidan Stormrage (Warcraft)
Those of you familiar with the Warcraft universe know how complex the story of Illidan Stormrage has been. From being dubbed the worst betrayer his race has ever seen to the savior. He has been through a lot. He was constantly in his brother’s shadow, in love with a woman that could never love him back in the same way. Still, he has risen above the circumstances and sacrificed everything for a chance at survival.
18. Caius Cosades (Elder Scrolls)
Caius is the first friendly face you will meet in the alien and ruthless land of Morrowind. He does have a bad Skooma habit but he never ever lets it interfere with his duties as a Blade.
17. Deckard Cain (Diablo)
Deckard Cain is the last living human in the world of Sanctuary. His unique views and first-hand accounts helped shaped much of what we know about the world of the Diablo franchise.
16. Thrall (Warcraft)
Thrall is perhaps better known under his nickname “Green Jesus”. He single-handedly managed to unite the Horde and establish the Earthen Ring. He represents the true values every Orc should aspire to.
15. Princess Zelda (Legend of Zelda)
If one thing Princess Zelda is known for it’s her readiness to sacrifice herself for the good of her people. She is a benevolent ruler who offers comfort and care in times of trouble.
14. Jack of Blades (Fable)
Jack of Blades hails from the Fable series. He is a creature that crawled from the void and now uses his iconic mask to spread his evil across Albion.
13. Raiden (Metal Gear)
Raiden had a difficult upbringing and was forced to do horrible things when he was just a child. Over the years the lines between right and wrong managed to completely blur for him. He was a mentally ruined person and one of the characters in gaming that handled the PTSD theme the best.
12. Booker DeWitt (Bioshock)
Booker DeWitt is no hero, he has few redeemable qualities, and that’s what makes him perfect for the role of anti-hero in a setting such as Bioshock: Infinite.
11. Marcus Holloway (Watch Dogs)
Marcus Holloway is the main protagonist of the Watch Dogs franchise. He is calm, calculated, an excellent strategist, and a visionary. He is easily the most famous hacker in video games on this list.
10. Paarthurnax (Elder Scrolls)
Paarthurnax landed on this list because of his exceptional accomplishments. It’s not that he managed to defeat Alduin twice (with the help of Dragonborn of course). It’s not even the fact that he was at one point the third most powerful dragon in the world of Elder Scrolls. What Paarthurnax managed to do, very few characters in gaming accomplished, he managed to rise above his evil nature and side with the underdog when every fiber of his being is telling him to dominate the world.
9. Senua (Hellblade)
No character in gaming managed to do for mental illness awareness what Senua from Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice did. Her experience became so real and so immersive you could imagine yourself in Senua’s boots as you travel through the dark underworld, a product of your own struggles and psychosis.
8. Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island)
Extremely funny and resourceful Guybrush Threepwood is the main protagonist of the Monkey Island franchise. He is also a talented Swashbuckler and a mortal enemy of a zombie pirate LeChuck.
7. Edward Kenway (Assassin’s Creed)
One more pirate on this list, Edward Kenway is the main protagonist of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. At the start of the game, Edward seems like your run-of-the-mill thug and classic archetype of a pirate. However, as the story progresses you realize that something ultimately was sacred for Edward, his daughter and he did everything to ensure the best possible life for her.
6. Sephiroth (Final Fantasy)
Sephiroth set the standard for most JRPG villains. He is egotistic, narcissistic, and self-serving. Under these bad qualities, however, lies a former hero who set the standard for most “hero-gone-bad” tropes we see in the genre today.
5. Tiny Tina (Borderlands)
Tiny Tina is a supporting character in the Borderlands franchise. She is iconic because of her over-the-top personality and tendency to handle dangerous weapons and materials.
4. Alucard (Castlevania)
Alucard is a dhampir that hails from the Castlevania franchise. Like many characters with a good storyline, he also managed to get his beastly nature under control and take up arms against his own father to stand up for what is right.
3. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy)
We had Sephiroth on this list and it would be a shame if we don’t include the main protagonist of this legendary franchise as well. Cloud Strife is instantly recognizable by his giant sword and roguish nature.
2. Solaire of Astora (Dark Souls)
All of us can learn a thing or two about unwavering faith from Solaire. Solair’s hope and determination to find every trace of light in an otherwise dark and hopeless world can serve as a true inspiration in times of trouble.
1. Mario (Super Mario)
What can we say, even though the list is unranked we’ve still decided to reserve the number one spot for Mario – the most famous plumber in the world. Even the people who never touched the games can recognize his mustache and red and blue attire.