Who Are the Best Video Game Characters of All Time?

Last updated: 2/14/2024
5 minutes read

In the vast realm of gaming, where pixels and polygons bring digital worlds to life, certain characters transcend the screen to become etched in the collective consciousness of players.

These iconic video game characters not only define the narratives they inhabit but also resonate with gamers across generations. From plumbers and hedgehogs to warriors and adventurers, let's delve into the pantheon of the top 15 most popular video game characters to ever hit our screens.

1. Mario (Super Mario Series)

Undoubtedly, the most memorable face – and voice – of video game characters, Mario has been plumbing through pipes and saving Princess Peach since the 1980s. This overall-clad Italian plumber is not just an iconic Nintendo mascot; he represents the essence of timeless gaming joy. The "It's-a-me, Mario!" catchphrase is eternally etched in the gaming lexicon. The Super Mario Series isn’t half bad either, with some of the best mini-games and levels of any platformer ever made.

2. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider Series)

In the realm of female video game characters, Lara Croft stands tall. The British archaeologist redefined the role of women in gaming. With her acrobatic prowess, intellect, and dual pistols, Lara became an empowering figure, symbolizing the strength and resilience of women. Lara Croft remains an enduring icon, transcending the digital divide and inspiring female gamers worldwide.

Dressed in green and armed with the Master Sword, Link embodies the hero's journey in the iconic Legend of Zelda series. As one of the most popular types of fantasy characters, Link's silent courage, unwavering determination, and quest to rescue Princess Zelda have captivated players since the original 8-bit games. Link continues to be a symbol of epic adventure and the embodiment of the player's journey into the fantastical realms of Hyrule.

4. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic Series)

Zooming onto the scene in a blur of blue, Sonic the Hedgehog became Sega's mascot and one of the most famous video game characters of the 16-bit era. Sonic brought speed and excitement to gaming, making him an enduring symbol of '90s pop culture. His legacy lives on in countless platformers and spin-offs.

5. Master Chief (Halo Series)

In the realm of futuristic shooters, Master Chief emerges as one of the strongest video game characters. Clad in the iconic green Mjölnir armor, Chief is the Spartan supersoldier leading humanity's fight against the Covenant. With a silent yet imposing presence, Master Chief navigates the intricate narratives of the Halo series, leaving a lasting legacy on the landscape of first-person shooters.

6. Kratos (God of War Series)

As a symbol of fury and vengeance, Kratos ascends the Olympus of iconic video game characters. Armed with the Blades of Chaos, Kratos wages war against gods and titans. His tale of tragedy and redemption unfolds in epic fashion, solidifying him as one of the best video game characters in the action-adventure genre.

7. Pikachu (Pokémon Series)

Cute video game characters find their embodiment in Pikachu. As the mascot of the Pokémon franchise, Pikachu has become a pop culture phenomenon beyond gaming, gracing merchandise, cartoons, and movies. This adorable yellow critter's signature "Pika Pika" has become a globally recognized expression of gaming joy.

8. Solid Snake (Metal Gear Series)

Stealth, espionage, and a cardboard box – Solid Snake epitomizes the complexities of war and politics in the Metal Gear series. As one of the most famous video game characters, Snake navigates intricate plots, faces formidable foes, and questions the morality of his actions. His complex personality makes him an enduring protagonist in the world of tactical espionage.

9. Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher Series)

As a monster-slaying, silver-haired witcher, Geralt of Rivia stands tall among the ranks of famous video game characters. Adapted from Andrzej Sapkowski's novels, Geralt's journey explores morality, choice, and the blurred lines between good and evil. With his iconic medallion and two swords on his back, Geralt has become an indelible figure in the RPG landscape.

10. Chun-Li (Street Fighter Series)

A trailblazer among video game characters female or otherwise, Chun-Li is a martial arts expert and Interpol officer from the Street Fighter series. With her powerful kicks and iconic spiked bracelets, Chun-Li has left her mark on the fighting game genre. Her legacy as one of the strongest video game characters is celebrated not only for her combat prowess but also for breaking gender stereotypes in gaming.

11. Nathan Drake (Uncharted Series)

In the world of action-adventure, Nathan Drake emerges as a roguishly charming treasure hunter. Drake's wit, acrobatics, and quips make him one of the best video game characters in the modern era. His cinematic adventures have captivated audiences and elevated the storytelling standard in video games.

12. Ezio Auditore (Assassin's Creed Series)

In the expansive world of historical action, Ezio Auditore dons the hood and hidden blades as an iconic Assassin with plenty of AOE attacks up his sleeve. Unfamiliar with the term AOE? Head over to our gaming glossary to find out more. The Assassin's Creed series follows Ezio's journey from a young nobleman to a master assassin. His charisma, coupled with intricate narratives, cements Ezio's place as one of the best video game characters in the realm of open-world adventures.

13. Ellie (The Last of Us Series)

A symbol of resilience in a post-apocalyptic world, Ellie showcases the depth and emotional complexity of video game characters. Ellie's journey through a ravaged world, fraught with dangers and moral dilemmas, resonates with players on a profound level. Her character development and tenacity contribute to the emotional impact of the narrative.

14. Aloy (Horizon Zero Dawn)

As the skilled archer and machine hunter in Horizon Zero Dawn, Aloy emerges as one of the most compelling female video game characters. In a post-apocalyptic world dominated by robotic creatures, Aloy's journey of self-discovery and uncovering the mysteries of her world captivates players.

15. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII)

Cloud Strife, the spiky-haired protagonist of Final Fantasy VII, is an enduring symbol of the Final Fantasy series. As a former SOLDIER turned mercenary, Cloud embarks on a journey to save the planet from the malevolent Sephiroth. With his distinctive Buster Sword and a mysterious past, Cloud has become one of the most recognizable and beloved RPG characters.

In the expansive universe of video game characters, these 15 icons stand as pillars of gaming history. From classic 8-bit games to the best MMORPGs of 2022, 2023, and beyond, these characters have shaped the industry and captivated players across generations. Whether traversing fantasy realms in AAA titles or free games online, these iconic figures continue to define the essence of gaming for enthusiasts worldwide.