These are the Best Video Game Characters EVER

Best Video Game Characters

Over the years, video games have introduced us to some of the greatest heroes and anti-heroes ever to grace a screen. From the characters we loved to the ones we hated, those who sent shivers down our collective spines and those who brought tears of joy to our eyes, this is the definitive list of the greatest video game characters ever… according to us!

20. Best Video Game Characters Ever: The Bloody Baron

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A terrible brute, sure, but the Bloody Baron in The Witcher 3 has a way of making the audience feel sympathy for him, without letting him off the hook for his crimes. His questline in the game is what makes the Bloody Baron an intriguing character to follow, and it shows us that even the most charming people can have a murky past. 

19. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Markus

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Markus is one of the characters in Detroit: Become Human that really transforms the general plotline. He leads the android revolution and gives countless speeches that give people like Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. a run for their money. Okay, well, maybe not exactly, but Markus does inspire the androids to fight for equal rights.

A lot of the drama in the game touches on issues like discrimination and prejudice of minorities, and Markus plays a role in executing that. And for that, he deserves a special shout out. 

18. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Clementine and Lee

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Okay, so this is technically two characters, but can you really have one without the other? Sure, Clementine goes off on her own eventually, but her life lessons while surviving the zombie apocalypse always come back to what Lee taught her. Clementine and Lee are arguably the most beloved characters in The Walking Dead franchise. At the start, we see Lee, who is an escaped convict, come into contact with Clementine, a frightened and vulnerable young girl. Lee takes Clementine under his wing, and as the game goes on, we see the lessons she learns from her mentor. 

17. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Danny Williams

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There’s just something about soccer players and their bromances. Danny Williams in FIFA’s The Journey career mode and player-controlled Alex Hunter are a great example.

Williams starts out as the antagonist, but as both players end up playing for the same team in the Football League Championship, a friendship blooms as the men both try to get their shot in the Premier League. 

16. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Elizabeth and Booker

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Again, another inseperable duo. BioShock Infinite’s complex storyline introduces us to Elizabeth and Booker, who are yet another example of a beautiful friendship blooming between video game characters right before our very eyes.

When Booker first meets Elizabeth, he is your classic internally damaged man with a dark past, and Elizabeth is a vulnerable woman who has been held captive. It’s pretty clear that between them, Booker is the savior. And yet, as the game goes on, that perspective changes as Elizabeth displays just how much power she really has. 

15. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Thomas

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Thomas Was Alone is a simple game, both in terms of its story and design, but it’s the narrative of the game and the characters that keep individuals playing. It’s difficult not to feel emotionally connected to Thomas as he wanders the world alone and openly expresses emotions that many players would have experienced at one point: loneliness, sadness, love, friendship, pride, and frustration.  

14. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Lester Crest

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The men in Grand Theft Auto 5 tend to be the same: immature, unstable, and they come with tortured pasts. But Lester Crest is a welcome presence, as he’s a reminder of what normal people are like. He doesn’t drive fast cars, and he doesn’t shoot guns. His mobility is limited, and he stays behind the scenes, offering sarcasm and pettiness, ensuring he’s one of the game’s most memorable characters. 

13. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Madeline

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Madeline is a video game character that many can relate to, as her journey to the top of Celeste Mountain is not just a physical one but an emotional one as well, as she grapples with issues like depression and anxiety. As Madeline climbs to the top and faces her demons, the player learns more about themselves as well. 

12. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Pagan Min

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One of the many psychotic villains to come out of the Far Cry series, Pagan Min is by far the most colorful and disturbing. Leader of the Himalayan nation of Kyrat, Pagan Min has incredible charm and never fails to exercise brutality. But he has a tortured past of his own, making every encounter with Pagan Min an interesting one. 

11. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Samantha Greenbriar

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Okay, it’s true that Samantha never appears in Gone Home (other than that one photograph), but she is the driving force behind the game, and that should count for something. As the game encounters twists and turns, more about Samantha’s personality becomes known, and players grow to love the young women with a rebellious heart. 

10. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Spyro The Dragon 

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Perhaps a little too cutesy for some, Spyro the Dragon charmed his way into our hearts with a warmth and depth of personality that was mostly absent back in the early days of gaming. Gamers of a certain vintage will recall pouring hours into busting Spyro’s fellow dragon’s from their crystal prisons and portal hopping their way through worlds when the original trilogy first landed back in the late nineties. 

When the series was rebooted in the mid-noughties with the release of The Legend of Spyro, our little purple dragon pal had well and truly become just that—a legend. Throw in the voice of Elijah Wood spurting pearls of wisdom like, “I know this is not the path you would choose for me, but I have to find my own path and do what I know is right,” and it was impossible not to be charmed or inspired. Spyro was genuinely one of the first three dimensional personalities in gaming and paved the way for a generation of gaming heroes. Spyro, we salute you!

9. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Nathan Drake

Nathan Drake
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Undoubtedly one of the coolest leading men to ever grace a video game cover, Nathan Drake spent his days hurling grenades through ancient ruins and sprinkling rifle rounds across the Himalayas—all in a shirt and jeans! If Spyro charmed his way to our inner child, the Uncharted star was the one character we wanted to grab a beer with. Naughty Dog did an excellent job of crafting a merciless killer who still retains an affable charm and genuine humanity through his seriously sharp wisecracks. And he’s terribly handsome to boot.  

While Naughty Dog did an excellent job crafting the persona of Nathan Drake and the world in which he inhabits, they knocked it out of the park in saying goodbye to the gunslinging treasure hunter. To tiptoe around spoilers, Drake is given a goodbye so peaceful and so beautiful that it is almost unprecedented in gaming. To tie up the life of such a conflicted individual, with such a complex backstory in the way that the studio did was masterful, leaving us with the feeling that Drake wasn’t just a lot of fun, but uncomfortably relatable too.

8. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Master Chief

Master Chief
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First arriving in the world in 2001, Spartan-117 has been a man of few words—but his actions have always been infinitely louder. Kidnapped as a child and forced into a supersoldier training program, we see John lose friends and families along the way to saving the universe as his instinct to protect and lead created one of the most iconic gaming personalities ever, even if his weapons did all the talking. 

We didn’t really get to learn much about the Halo hero in the first three games, given that he was largely faceless and trained to complete his mission without question. However, the personality that was articulated so artfully in the Halo books really comes to the fore in the fourth and fifth installments of the classic Xbox series when he is forced to confront the traumatic loss of his closest friend Cortona. Regardless of personality flaws, slipping into the shoes of the singular supersoldier made us genuinely feel 10 feet tall. 

7. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Ezio Auditore

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While there are plenty of characters to chose from the world of Assassin’s Creed, like actual main character Desmond Miles or the swashbuckling Edward Kenway, it was the main man of AC 2 who really opened our eyes to just how good the series could be. The Italian Renaissance nobleman-turned-Assassin was equally as full of quick quips as he was bodeful brooding, and, wow, was it fun to scale the peaks of 16th century Rome. 

How many characters in gaming history can say they boxed with the Pope, took a ride in da Vinci’s flying machine, broke the Borgia dynasty’s stranglehold on Rome, built a network of operatives in Constantinople, and faced off against the scheming Şehzade Ahme? Appearing in a further two AC games, each appearance was definitely the most warmly greeted by gamers for a former character, given that many other protagonists in the series lacked the same depth and attachment we had to Ezio. 

6. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Aloy

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It’s perhaps to the shame of the gaming world that female protagonists are few and far between, and it’s definitely something that the industry needs to change going forward. However, every now and then, a female lead comes along and fills the future with hope, and Horizon Zero Dawn’s Aloy is definitely one of them. In the prehistoric post-apocalyptic robotic hellhole (yes, it’s a mouthful) that Earth has become in the next millennium, we first meet Aloy as a lost child outcast from what remains of society on a quest to uncover her true place in the world. 

Fast forward a couple of years, and the once unspoken outsider has been promoted to humanity’s savior. Our hardheaded hero has developed a stubborn sass and sheer determination that make her one of the most magnetic protagonists in gaming history. Added to that the sheer beauty of the game’s world and the depth of what is a hugely underappreciated story, and it becomes incredibly easy to lose hours and hours hunting robot dinosaurs or scaling snowy peaks as HZD’s fierce leading lady Aloy. 

5. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Trevor Phillips

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There’s very little that hasn’t been said about Trevor Phillips, least of all by Trevor Phillips himself, but the unhinged antihero of GTA V cements his place in the top five purely through the strength of his soundbite catalog alone. What’s brilliant about Trevor is that in his unbridled, unadulterated madness, he perfectly encapsulates the chaos of what the GTA series is all about. In his total lack of the principles and characteristics that we usually associate with an upstanding citizen, he’s the only GTA character to ever really make sense. 

Whether it’s romping across the dusty planes of the Gran Senora Desert in a dune buggy or manically hurtling through downtown Los Santos in an 18-wheel truck, rarely have gamers had more fun than when Trevor perks up with one of his great quips. Highlights include, “aaaand my tax dollars are hard at work” when being chased by the cops, or the timeless classic of “it’s like… pornography or a perfect turd. I can’t quite describe it, but I’ll know it when I see it.” He may not win any poetry competitions, but he’s certainly deserving of a place on our list.

4. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Lara Croft

Lara Croft
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Perhaps one of the most recognizable characters in gaming history, Lara Croft is also one of the strongest, most dynamic, and straight-up badass protagonists we’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering. First arriving on the scene way back in the mid-nineties on the first Playsation, Croft is widely credited with popularizing the console and advancing 3D art in games. She also holds the Guinness World Record as the most recognizable female video game character to date and paved the way for a generation to follow.

She is one of the most exciting characters ever to grace a game: reckless, beautiful, and a damn fine shot, she’s the driving force behind the success of the Tomb Raider franchise and has broken out into comics, films, and all manner of other merchandise. Such was Croft’s influence that Angelina Jolie even took on the role in the live action version and its sequel, a role eventually reprised by Alicia Vikander last year. Without Lara Croft, there would be no Nathan Drake or Aloy, and who’s to say how many more characters drew inspiration from the acrobatic aristocrat.

3. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Geralt of Rivia

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CD Projekt Red did a masterful job in bringing the character of Geralt from the pages of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels to our screen. With his glowing white eyes, iconic scar across the left eye, and that voice, Geralt grew with the times. Starting out in the 2007’s three-camera RPG first installment of The Witcher, Geralt came a long way by the time the third game landed in 2015 to rapturous applause. Rarely have gamers assumed the life so fully of a character, least of all one as deep and complex as Geralt, that we were treated to in The Wild Hunt

Soon to be brought to life yet again by former Superman Henry Cavill in a Netflix series landing December 20, a whole legion of fantasy fans who may have missed out on The Witcher games are about to be treated to the presence of the grizzled Grey Wolf. Typically in RPGs, protagonists are designed to be as bland as possible to broaden their universal appeal, but as Geralt is derived from the world of literature, we are given one of the deepest performances in gaming history, with each choice feeling like a weight on our very souls. 

2. Best Video Game Characters Ever: Mario

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Mario is literally Mr. Videogame, undoubtedly the single most iconic face in the history of gaming. Even if Nintendo games aren’t your thing, it’s undeniable that appearing in over 200 games and selling over 500 million copies are accolades enough for cementing Mario’s position at the pinnacle of gaming. Everyone’s favorite Italian plumber first graced our screens all the way back in 1981’s Donkey Kong and would go on to become the face of Nintendo to this very day. 

Whether it’s the side-scrolling brilliance of Smash Bros or the chaotic mayhem of Mario Kart, almost every gamer has been charmed by the mustachioed mascot on his adventures with his brother, Luigi, and the equally fantastic supporting cast of the franchise. Mario holds several Guinness World Records, including “Most Prolific Video Game Character” and “Best Video Game Character Of All Time.” Unfortunately, the Guinness criteria doesn’t apply to this list, and Mario will perhaps be slightly aggrieved to narrowly miss out on the top spot. 

1. Best Video Game Characters Ever: John Marston

John Marston
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To dethrone Mario as the greatest video game character of all time is no mean feat, but the gunslinging hero of Rockstar’s instant classic Red Dead Redemption is fully deserving of his place at the pinnacle of gaming. The classic antihero is no new notion to the medium of video games; in fact, it’s arguably the most common persona of most protagonists, but John Marston absolutely perfected that role. While many damned heroes tend to emerge triumphant in the end, we are all too well aware of Marston’s fate in one of the greatest twists in gaming history. 

However, last year we were treated to a return to the dying days of the Wild West with a prequel to RDR, and while Marston is merely a side character at first, we delve deeper into his origins and early family life in such a way that the almost decade-old first game begins to feel so much more emotionally charged. To watch a man in search of purpose and redemption in a world slipping from relevance is one of the most unique and intriguing character arcs ever created. Add in a voice that you want to read you bedtime stories, and you’ve got a recipe for success. 

Featured image: DepositPhotos © wrangel

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