You’ve seen them in ads for goods that have nothing to do with games. You’ve seen them on the bookbags of kids.
You may have even seen them on the front of cereal boxes, lunch boxes, and old cans of SpaghettiOs.
The people we talk about come from the world of video games.
Since the interactive entertainment we love so much started taking over the world, fans from all over the world have grown to love its most well-known names.
Every day, at least one of these characters shows up in your timeline, gets brought up in a random chat, or comes to mind after you hear a song that has something to do with them.
We’re here to honor the 50 Most Iconic Video Game Characters Ever.
- 50. Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man
- 49. Nathan Drake
- 48. Crash Bandicoot
- 47. Spyro the Dragon
- 46. Lara Croft
- 45. Donkey Kong
- 44. Mario
- 43. Luigi
- 42. Princess Peach
- 41. Solid Snake
- 40. Samanosuke Akechi
- 39. Rayman
- 38. Max Payne
- 37. Sub-Zero
- 36. Scorpion
- 35. Cloud Strife
- 34. John Marston
- 33. Geralt of Rivia
- 32. Joel Miller
- 31. Duke Nukem
- 30. Sam Fisher
- 29. Sylvanas Windrunner
- 28. Ratchet
- 27. Doomguy
- 26. Dorian Pavus
- 25. Dog
- 24. Bella Goth
- 23. Alduin
- 22. Steve
- 21. Chloe Price
- 20. Cayde-6
- 19. Commander Shepard
- 18. Jill Valentine
- 17. Agent 47
- 16. Kratos
- 15. Michael, Franklin, and Trevor
- 14. Link
- 13. Sonic The Hedgehog
- 12. Pikachu
- 11. Samus Aran
- 10. Kirby
- 9. Bowser
- 8. Mega Man
- 7. Yoshi
- 6. Ryu
- 5. Chun-Li
- 4. Sephiroth
- 3. Niko Bellic
- 2. Kassandra
- 1. Arthur Morgan
50. Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man
Who would have thought that a picture of a pizza pie with one slice missing would be the inspiration for one of the first characters in video games?
Pac-Man, Toru Iwatani’s character who eats yellow pellets and eats ghosts, is well-known all over the world.
The same is true for the female version of the little yellow guy, who is just as popular.
49. Nathan Drake
Sony’s Treasure Raider is a likeable everyman who stays true to himself with everyone he ends up making friends with.
Nathan Drake can be seen on the big screen and in other Sony-licensed games when he’s not shooting bad guys and barely getting out of risky situations.
Nathan is easy to spot because he looks like a dirty world traveler.
48. Crash Bandicoot
When Sony first released the PlayStation, it came out swinging at Nintendo and Sega with its platform mascot, which was the PlayStation logo.
That character turned out to be Crash Bandicoot, an orange marsupial that looks like a person.
Crash has been in his own popular games, talked trash to Mario in ads, made up his own dance, and so on.
47. Spyro the Dragon
When Crash became the face of the PS1, he was soon joined by another platforming mascot that helped establish Sony’s first system as a place where kids could find good games.
Everyone had a good time with Spyro the Dragon’s crazy adventures, which include headbutting, fire-breathing, collecting gems, and flying in an elegant way.
Spyro’s famous run has made him popular with two different groups: fans of his old-school platform games and fans of the Skylanders games where toys come to life.
46. Lara Croft
Before Nathan Drake took over, the great Lara Croft was the best tomb hunter in video games.
Everyone remembers her from the Tomb Raider games because of her iconic look, her skill with a double pistol, and her general coolness.
As soon as Angelina Jolie played Lara in those big-budget Tomb Raider movies, she became much more well-known.
45. Donkey Kong
The lovable ape from Nintendo used to be a bad guy.
When Mario and his girlfriend first played in arcades, he would scare them.
Then, in the famous SNES game Donkey Kong Country, he got to play the hero with his little brother Diddy Kong.
Since then, the big ape has become one of Nintendo’s biggest stars thanks to his amazing platformers and parts in games like Super Smash Bros., Mario Party, Mario Kart, etc.
Without a question, Mario is the most popular video game character of all time. Everyone, including your grandma, probably knows who he is.
Modern gamers owe a lot to this character and the Mario games in general. They almost single-handedly put video games on the map in the West, and he has been in an amazing number of games.
Unlike some of the others on this list, his fame hasn’t died down, and it’s unlikely that it ever will.
Mario’s brother, who is much weirder and much skinnier than Mario, has a big fan group of his own.
At first, he was just called the Mario Bros. child, which didn’t say much about how different he was from his brother.
But then, games like Luigi’s Mansion and Super Smash Bros. showed off his fun and quirky side.
Now that he’s different from his fatter twin, everyone loves him even more.
42. Princess Peach
Princess used to be just another game character who was always in trouble.
But as the Mario Bros. series went on, the leader of the Mushroom Kingdom became even more well-known because she showed up in a lot of related games.
Peach is so famous now that she is almost as well-known as Mario. She is a gaming star because she is good at kart, tennis, golf, and other games.
41. Solid Snake
Solid Snake is a well-known character from the Metal Gear series. He is a fighter who is good at spying and sneaking around.
Snake is often listed as one of the most popular characters in the history of video games. Fans like him because he has a nice attitude and can keep going even when he is hurt very badly.
Even people who have never played Metal Gear Solid have heard of him, and his fame hasn’t gone away yet.
40. Samanosuke Akechi
Samanosuke is the main character in the first and third Onimusha games. He is called Tenkai Nankb by the people/demons he doesn’t brutally kill. In Capcom’s first samurai slasher, Akechi seems like a pretty generic hero at first.
However, in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, he becomes a kickass co-lead, in part because Jean Reno does such a great job as the ridiculously named Jacques Blanc.
It’s a shame that Onmishua died so young. He was driven by fairness and a sense of honor.
Even though the series got pretty good reviews and sales, it just didn’t have the staying power of Resident Evil or even Devil May Cry.
We can only hope that this brave warrior, who is loosely based on the historical person Akechi Hidemitsu, will show up again on modern consoles one day.
Rayman is one of the most famous main characters in gaming history. Since 1995, 45 Rayman games have been released on a variety of systems.
In a fantasy world, Rayman may not have arms, legs, or a neck, but he sure knows how to throw a punch as his spinning helicopter hair propels him through the game.
Rayman was even given his own cartoon show, in which the famous Billy West did his voice.
38. Max Payne
Max has been through a lot of pain in his life, as his name suggests, but he also knows how to hurt other people.
Max is a detective who quits his job and becomes a rogue in a neo-noir world to find the people who killed his wife and baby daughter.
Max is one of the most popular video game figures, and the first game in the trilogy is by far one of the most interesting and exciting games ever made at the time.
We would be making a mistake if we didn’t include this Mortal Kombat character, especially considering how important the whole series has been to game history.
Sub-Zero is a great fighter, and fans love his skills and finishing moves, which are known as “fatalities.”
Sub-Zero is, along with Scorpion, one of the most well-known and famous characters in the series, if not the whole fighting game genre.
When we talk about Scorpion, we can’t just say his name and leave him off this list.
This evil ninja is the main character in Mortal Kombat and has been in almost every game.
In 2009, Game Informer ranked him as the third-best fighting game character, and series co-creator Ed Boon says Scorpion is his favorite character.
In terms of the big picture, this character is important both in the game and in the past of video games.
35. Cloud Strife
Cloud Strife made his first appearance in Final Fantasy VII. He is often used as an example of how to write a complicated character in games.
Fans and reviewers agree that the way his mental problems are shown is strikingly well done without coming off as fake, mocking, or overdone.
He was named the fifth best video game figure in the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition 2011.
Cloud is one of those characters that many players can recognize right away, even if they’ve never played the Final Fantasy games.
34. John Marston
John Marston, from the game Red Dead Redemption, is one of those figures that players can’t help but care about.
As the main character of the 2010 game, he has to go after people from his old gang as the Wild West around him gets worse.
Not only is he a badass gunslinger, but Rob Wiethoff’s mocap acting brings out even more of the character’s beautiful depth.
Since his first appearance, Marston has become one of the most memorable video game characters, and it’s amazing to see how he changes in Red Dead Redemption 1 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
33. Geralt of Rivia
Geralt has come a long way since he first appeared in a book by Andrzej Sapkowski. Now, he has his own hit TV show on Netflix.
As a Witcher, Geralt has been changed so that he is very resistant to injury, sickness, and poison. He also ages much more slowly.
Geralt is the main character that you can’t help but cheer for. He doesn’t like politics and doesn’t take any crap from anyone.
Even though he might not give you the same feelings as John Marston, cutting through monsters with him makes you feel like you can do anything.
32. Joel Miller
Ellie wouldn’t be the same without Joel, and he’s one of the few characters who will make any player cry, even if he or she isn’t a good person.
Joel is definitely someone you’d want on your side during a fungus apocalypse, but it’s his journey that makes him one of the most famous characters in gaming.
The amount of growth he goes through is amazing, and Troy Bakers’ mocap and voice acting make it even better.
It’s safe to say that this character will continue to have an effect on the game industry, and his popularity with fans hasn’t changed.
31. Duke Nukem
He’s here to beat people up and eat bubble gum… and he has no more gum.
Duke Nukem is one of those characters who will make you laugh as you beat up bad guys with this blonde, cigar-smoking main character.
Most gamers know his name, even if they’ve never played a game with him in it. He first showed up in 1991.
Even though he’s not the deepest or most complicated character on this list, this macho man who cracks jokes is one of the most famous and well-known video game figures ever made.
30. Sam Fisher
Sam Fisher, the main character in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series, is a master of stealth, even though players usually aren’t.
This action man has been called one of the biggest and most famous characters in Xbox games, and his night vision goggles make him stand out right away.
He’s basically the American James Bond, but he’s sneakier and doesn’t have all the girls.
29. Sylvanas Windrunner
Sylvanas has had one of the most satisfying story arcs in World of Warcraft history since she was first presented in Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos.
Windrunner used to be a brave high elf ranger who died saving her people. When her soul was ripped out in battle, she was turned into a banshee.
The leader of the Forsaken group is driven by the need for power and revenge. He or she goes on to play a key role in World of Warcraft’s great Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
After she gets her free will back, she hates the life a little bit less, which is good. Whether or not she has control over the zombies, Sylvanas will always be a legendary badass.
The technically talented Lombax is one of PlayStation’s most likeable mascots. Since the early 2000s, gamers have been amazed by his very fluffy space ears.
Ratchet has saved the world a crazy number of times. He and Clank, a small, polite robot, make an all-time great team.
Even though he is humble and brave, Lombax has always been a little sad, no matter how happy his tiny droid friend is.
Before A Crack in Time and Rift Apart told more about his past, people thought that Ratchet was the only one of his species still alive in the whole galaxy.
We are so glad that Rivet stole the show in the first PS5 adventure of the series to finally cheer up the lonely Lombax.
There are many names for John Romero’s icon. “The Doom Slayer”, “The Hell Walker”, “Unchained Predator”, and “Mr. Hugglebug”. We made up only one of those names, we promise.
When it first showed up in iD’s first-person shooter in 1993, Doomguy’s angry face was a pixelated wonder. At the time, Jurassic Park was wowing moviegoers all over the world.
Without Doom’s famous and very brutal marine, there would be no BJ Blazkowicz or Sam “Serious” Sam, let alone Microsoft’s famous Master Chief.
The legend with a shotgun and a chainsaw, who is known as the “father” of shooters, made a victorious return in the brilliant 2016 reboot of the series.
In Doom Eternal, which came out three years later, the actor Matthew Waterson finally gave the murderer some words, which he said with grizzled style.
26. Dorian Pavus
This is what a soup ladle looks like. Captain Price has a pretty good mustache, but it’s nothing compared to the beautiful curls that sit on top of Dorian’s beautiful face.
The former Enchanter is a dreamy, well-groomed romance choice for those who choose to play as a male Inquisitor. She is a flirt from the start and used to be an Enchanter.
Dorian is one of the few truly famous characters in Dragon Age. His ability to use magic and quick wit make him a great RPG partner. The handsome spellcaster has also had an interesting life.
Dorian was born into the fancy House of Qarinus and studied magic at the Circle of Carastes. Even though he was one of the best students there, his love of duels got him into a lot of trouble.
Pavus is as difficult as his magnificent mustache. He used to live in the slums of Tevinter Imperium with other elves, but then he joined the Inquisition to help fix problems in society.
With the See the Future DLC for Fable 2, this well-known Albion dog can be different sizes and types.
Dog is an important part of the Xbox RPG, whether you raise it as a dalmatian, bloodhound, or the original “mutt” breed.
At the start of the journey, your Hero meets a dog near Bowerstone. Your Hero and the dog form a bond that is important to the game.
As the journey goes on, your actions and decisions change how Dog looks and acts. If you act like a jerk, you’ll soon have a devil dog, which is a dog that acts aggressively and gets very dark paws.
But if the Hero stays a good person, the puppy will be a happy boy that kids will want to pet.
No matter what moral decisions you make, Dog makes itself legendary by taking a bullet for the Hero when the evil Lucien tries to shoot your character. And yes, we really do see everything.
24. Bella Goth
The life of the most stylish Sim ever was so lovely and dull. She grew up in the Bachelor family and was a good student. Her collection of skulls in her room showed that she had a dark side.
In The Sims 2, the life of the famous, well-dressed Sim gets a lot more interesting when she marries Mortimer Goth, a B-movie star who has a strange love of bugs.
Even though Bella is happy with her bug-hugging husband at 165 Sim Lane, Goth is taken by aliens and taken away from Pleasantview.
Since then, she hasn’t been seen, but a form of her shows up in The Sims 4, though in a different timeline.
Bella was last seen hanging out on Don Lothario’s deck before E.T. and his friends beamed her up. This suggests that she and Don had an affair. It’s juicy! You alien jerks, beam this very trendy Sim back!
This lizard with surprisingly loose lips is a dangerous dragon king and the most famous monster your Dragonborn will meet. And what a way to start.
Alduin saves your warrior’s head during a continuous attack on Helgen Keep, which is the start of Skyrim’s brilliant execution.
By acting like a dragon and using his famous roar to call up storms of meteors. In Game of Thrones, we never saw Drogon do that.
Alduin is often called “World Eater” because he wants to destroy so much. This name probably comes from the charred bodies of his recent victims.
With the help of an Elder Scroll, the Dragonborn and three Nordic heroes send Alduin back in time, which is a very good thing.
Still, before he is “Back to the Future-ed” into nothingness, this famous dragon is a great, smug bad guy.
Who? Yes, the blocky person on Mojang’s cover does have a name. This man-shaped stack of bricks is the everlasting symbol of Minecraft. It has one of the most easily recognizable shapes in all of gaming.
He may only have a few words, or more correctly, none, but Steve’s role as a mute main character makes him the perfect blank slate for Mojang’s endlessly creative sandbox world.
Also, that guy hasn’t missed shoulder day at his gym, which is probably made of blocks. The Minecraft man has become so well-known that he gets a fighting cameo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
This is because the game is so famous and Rise Animation made a YouTube series about Steve. That’s it, Stevie boy. Beat up Mario and his friends with bricks.
21. Chloe Price
In Dontnod’s surprising episodic journey, Max Caulfield and Chloe Price have the best time-traveling friendship since Marty McFly and Doc Brown.
They are a great team. After being friends for years, Max and Price almost immediately get back together when she uses her magic juju to turn back time and save Price’s life.
Chloe’s depth is what makes her such a famous character. She was played with care by Ashley Burch in Aloy and by Rhianna DeVries in the prequel Life is Strange Beyond the Storm.
Price is a one-of-a-kind person. He is fiercely faithful but quick to blame others, brave but still paralyzed by fear, and kind but cold.
Because of how well Chloe’s mental health and addiction problems are handled, she is not only one of the most famous video game figures of the 2010s, but also one of the most three-dimensional.
The joke that everyone loves to tell Guardian is a great example of how a character’s voice actor can make or break it.
This Hunter Vanguard has one of the most fulfilling character arcs in the history of Destiny, and Nathan Fillion plays him to a tee.
Even though he wasn’t given enough to do in Bungie’s first looter shooter, Destiny 2, the always snarky Cayde really gets his chance to shine.
The Hunter is the story’s main character in the excellent Forsaken DLC for the sequel, and he or she dies in a truly heroic way, against all chances.
Destiny’s Tower has never quite filled the void left by this charming treasure hunter. We’d be more upset if he hadn’t left our Guardians his amazing Ace of Spades rare hand cannon, but we’re just glad he did.
19. Commander Shepard
No matter if you play as maleshep or femshep, this Commander is one of the most recognized video game characters, even if you change how you look.
Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale do a great job with their voices, and who else in the galaxy is known for hitting a reporter so many times?
Even though some things about this character are always the same, players often become very attached to him or her because they can make choices that change how Shepard deals with other people and situations.
Even though the ending may have been controversial, when players see the iconic N7 armor, they can’t help but want to play as this main character again.
18. Jill Valentine
Valentine is the main character of several games in the Resident Evil series. She is one of the most well-known characters from the first game and one of the few women on this list.
Aside from being a strong and interesting character, she has also been praised for being a female character who is just as skilled as the male characters around her without being overly sexualized.
Jill is a great example of how popular, well-written, and created a female character can be when it comes to games.
17. Agent 47
Agent 47 is the main character and antihero of the famous Hitman series. He is a cold-blooded killer and the 47th clone made to be the perfect killing machine.
There’s something rewarding about getting a hit with this character, especially since some of them can be hard.
But with his bald head, serious face, and sharp suit, it’s hard to mistake this character for anyone else, even though he’s meant to be an expert at staying hidden.
Kratos might be one of the best video game characters, and it’s hard to grasp just how big his impact is.
Not only does he have some of the most mind-blowing fight scenes, but his story is also surprisingly moving.
Now that he has to take care of his son Atreus, Kratos changes a lot as a person, and it’s hard for fans not to care about this God of War turned Dad of Boy.
God of War: Ragnarok is set to come out in 2022, and fans can’t wait to see where this well-known figure goes next.
15. Michael, Franklin, and Trevor
It’s hard to pick a favorite out of these three Grand Theft Auto V characters because the game wouldn’t be the same without them all.
Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most popular games of all time. It holds the records for the best-selling game of all time in the UK and the fastest-selling video game.
A lot of that success is due to these three main characters.
Each one has its own personality, history, and goals, but when the time is right, they’re all interesting and funny. It’s easy to say that this group of three won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Link is a name that everyone knows, whether they play video games or not.
Even though he doesn’t talk much or show much personality, there is something very nostalgic about this character, and those who have played Breath of the Wild know how important Link has been to the past of video games.
13. Sonic The Hedgehog
Even though the first design for the live-action Sonic movie was awful, Sonic is a figure that everyone in the gaming world knows right away.
This fast blue hedgehog won all three of his first games right away. Even though the next games haven’t done as well, the character as a whole has stayed famous.
Anyone who was a kid in the late 1990s and early 2000s will have happy memories of Pokémon, and Pikachu is by far the most well-known character in the series.
Over 59 million copies of the original Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow games were sold, and the popularity of Pokémon Go today shows that this little yellow lightning hamster is still one of the most important and famous characters in gaming history.
11. Samus Aran
Imagine how shocked and amazed everyone was when they learned that Metroid’s hero was actually a woman.
Since then, players have admired Samus Aran for being a great example of a strong female main character in a video game.
A megastar will always be the cosmic bounty hunter who lets her “Plasma Gun” do the talking.
Nintendo has a big list of characters that are well-known, doesn’t it? Next on our list from the “Big N” is the perfect soft doll, a pink puffball.
Kirby eats his enemies, copies their moves, and beats big bad guys who you’d think would smash him to pieces.
You can’t help but like Kirby’s never-ending hunger and his wide range of strong (and sometimes strange!) skills.
This giant lizard has been a threat to Mario and the other people who live in the “Mushroom Kingdom” for decades.
Bowser is the best big boss in video games, and he has been at the forefront of Nintendo’s biggest series along with the game’s main character.
As a side note, Bowser is one of our main characters in Smash!
8. Mega Man
“Blue Bomber” by Capcom was the most popular game on the NES.
Even though Mega Man’s character has changed a lot since then, everyone still calls his original look the most recognized.
He’s small, but he’s a real force who’s worked on his own games and a lot of Capcom games that cross over.
Even today, people still talk about his 90s show and its theme song.
When Yoshi first appeared in Super Mario World, a new star was born.
Now that the helpful dinosaur has legs, he’s even more of a star at Nintendo.
Yoshi has taken care of a crying Baby Mario and gotten a hole-in-one on dozens of Mario Golf courses, so it’s clear he’s a legendary animal around here.
Ryu is the original “World Warrior” and the fighting game character who will never be surpassed.
You’ve probably heard someone in public shout “HADOUKEN!” and knew right away who they were talking about.
And that’s because the master of “Shotokan-style Karate” in Street Fighter is a well-known figure.
And in Street Fighter, Chun-Li is without a question the female character that gets the most love.
Her most famous character design has been cosplayed by a lot of people, including Jackie Chan, and can be seen all over the world.
When Nicki Minaj names a whole song after “Lighting Legs” user Chun-Li, you know she’s a big deal.
And here is the penultimate JRPG bad guy, who is Cloud’s eternal enemy and has a huge fan group of his own.
Sephiroth and his “Masamune” sword, which was so long it was hard to believe, are still talked about in the media.
The guy has a voice that gets everyone’s attention and gives off a huge amount of coolness.
His parts in games like Super Smash Bros., Kingdom Hearts, Ehrgeiz, etc. that are based on Final Fantasy VII have made him an even bigger star.
3. Niko Bellic
The main character in GTA whose feelings are the most complicated is a Balkan badass with a shaky trigger finger and a painful past.
Niko wears a cheap sweatsuit better than any other game character, and he is a much more interesting person than any of the one-dimensional stars in the first three Grand Theft Auto games.
Bellic moves through Liberty City like a sad bull in a very violent china shop. He can’t get over his shady past, and modern American life is too much for him to handle.
Niko wouldn’t have much fun during GTA 4’s 93 story tasks if it weren’t for his cousin’s love of bowling and other, more X-rated activities.
Even though she doesn’t have to be the main character of Odyssey, we’d rather stare down Medusa than choose Kassandra’s half-brother Alexios.
Kassandra really shines when you start exploring the vast lands of Ubisoft’s Ancient Greek country. Her baby brother is fine(ish), if a little bit boring.
This Spartan warrior, who is played with a smile and a wink, is as charming as she is dangerous.
Kassandra is both a fierce fighter and a slightly murderous jokester. She meets famous historical figures like Socrates and slices and dices enemy soldiers like a Terminator in a toga.
Melissanthi Mahut does a great job as Kassandra, the first female player character in a mainline Assassin’s Creed game. She gives Kassandra a serious and also wonderfully sassy side.
After the famous Ezio from AC II, this badass Greek who likes to make jokes is by far the most popular character in Ubi’s long-running series.
1. Arthur Morgan
One of the hardest things to do in a game that lets you go anywhere, do anything and hogtie innocent strangers is providing some sense of depth and realism to your protagonist, no matter how they behave.
But somehow, Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2 manages to bring a nourishing sense of humanity to almost everything he does.
Actor Roger Clark provided motion capture and voiceover for the troubled outlaw, and he took his inspiration from Toshiro Mifune, the legendary Japanese leading man who starred in many of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films.
It’s a leftfield choice until you remember Kurosawa was deeply influenced by classic John Ford Westerns, and that many of his films were adapted again for a wild west setting.
Those layered subtleties are just part of what makes Arthur Morgan stand out as a stoic, amusing, often tragic character.