Top 50 Best Female Video Game Characters Of All Time

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Back when gaming was first getting started, it was aimed almost exclusively at males. They were the ones spending their quarters unsupervised at the arcades, and gender norms were considerably stricter back then.

Luckily for everyone, things have changed over the years. Slowly but surely, incredible female characters started appearing in many titles.

They were almost exclusively just good looking ladies at first. But as gaming evolved throughout the years, so did its characters.

Nowadays we’re privileged to live in a time where awesome female badasses are a common sight on our screens.

And we’d have to leave way too many out to make this into a short list, so here’s our ranking of the best female characters in all of gaming.


50. Kat

Kat Gravity Rush 2 gameplay screenshot

First appearance: Gravity Rush (2012)

I didn’t own a PS Vita when the original Gravity Rush came out. So I only met Kat in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.

Her gravity-bending abilities quickly made her into one of my mains.

These gravity-shifting powers open the door to very creative level design in her games.

Her character design is also gorgeous. The golden accents on black fabric work well with her tan skin and blond hair. She looks like some kind of Sumerian goddess, and I love it.

Fun fact: She may be the one using them, but the gravity-related powers stem from her black cat familiar, Dusty.


49. Rose of Sharon Cassidy

Rose of Sharon Cassidy in Fallout: New Vegas (2010) game

First appearance: Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

This Mojave Wasteland cowgirl is one of Fallout: New Vegas’s most vocal companions, making her one of the best.

Cass always has something interesting to say, even in the most unlikely situations.

She’s a bit despondent when you meet her, and she tends to drown her sorrows by drinking moonshine – but this is the post-apocalypse, so it’s only fair.

I mean, what good is a liver when the leading cause of death is “mauled by Deathclaws”?


48. BloodRayne

BloodRayne from BloodRayne 2 video game

First appearance: BloodRayne (2002)

The Nazi-killing dhampir Rayne was one of the first video game characters to transcend the medium and make it into mainstream publications.

Specifically, she made it into Playboy magazine back in 2004.

It may sound silly now. But it was still a momentous occasion back in the day.

It took video games decades to be taken seriously by the public at large, and these kinds of experiments were vital in achieving gaming’s current status as a widely respected art form.

Rayne used to be a trendy cosplay character, showcasing her popularity among both male and female gamers.


47. Kasumi

Kasumi Dead or Alive 6 screenshot

First appearance: Dead or Alive (1996)

There’s no lack of hot badasses in the Dead or Alive series.

But Kasumi is a bit of an icon and the face of the series.

She’s been kicking ass since the mid-90s, garnering a loyal following with her appearances in Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden.

She has a gentle demeanor, a sweet face, and a killer body, but don’t let her appearance fool you. She can beat you to a pulp faster than any burly man ever could.


46. Catherine

Catherine in Catherine (2011) gameplay

First appearance: Catherine (2011)

Katherine is probably the better choice for Vincent’s long-term happiness, but the mysterious Catherine is simply unforgettable.

As a demon, she shows herself to her victims in the shape they’d desire the most.

Vincent’s is a younger, feisty version of his girlfriend Katherine that regularly dresses like a cabaret dancer.

Catherine’s pixie personality and banging body represent the pure, unadulterated fun of life without responsibilities.

It’s easy to see how Vincent ended up cheating.

A girl like this would put any of us in trouble.


45. Mai Shiranui

Mai Shiranui in Fatal Fury 2 (1992)

First appearance: Fatal Fury 2 (1992)

I can’t think of a game character that matches the “sex symbol” description better than Mai Shiranui.

This modern female ninja rose to fame as the first female character in an SNK fighter game – but also thanks to her incredible sex appeal.

Since arcade gaming was a male-dominated field at the time, this was simply the logical thing to do.

That said, it’s not only men that like Mai.

She’s ridiculously popular as a cosplay character among girls. Bumping into a half-naked ninja in the subway on your way to a gaming convention is as common as it is surreal.


44. Aya Brea

Aya Brea from Parasite Eve The 3rd Birthday

First appearance: Parasite Eve (1998)

Parasite Eve is one of those series that rose to challenge giants like Resident Evil and Final Fantasy VII, but slowly fell off the map as a series.

Still, main character Aya Brea remains an icon of 3D gaming’s first steps.

This American police officer’s cells have mutated mitochondria, allowing her to remain in control even when Mitochondria Eve turns the cell’s powerhouse against its hosts.

It also gives her superhuman abilities once awakened, becoming a thorn in the antagonist’s side.

Her cold and brooding demeanor are a staple of “cool” characters of the late 1990s and early 2000s, but Aya wears it better.


43. Pauline

Pauline from Super Mario Odyssey game

First appearance: Donkey Kong (1981)

Way before Princess Toadstool was born, Mario was already rescuing cute gals from evil villains.

Specifically, he was saving Pauline.

After her run-in with Donkey Kong in the game that kick-started the Mario franchise, she dropped off the map for a fair amount of time.

She used this time to become an accomplished songstress and politician, as we see in Super Mario Odyssey.

She’s now the mayor of New Donk City, bringing hope and cheer to her citizens with her beautiful voice.


42. Senua

Senua Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (2017) gameplay

First appearance: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017)

Hellblade isn’t the most well-known game out there. But it’s still a fantastic game.

And that has a lot to do with its remarkable story and the incredibly well-written Senua.

This Pictish warrior from medieval Scotland has psychosis and schizophrenia.

She believes a dark entity pushes her forward to rescue her lover’s soul from Helheim and sees signs of their dark influence everywhere.

Despite carrying so much darkness and trauma within her, Senua continues to push forward. She’s resolute and reminds us of the human element of mental illness.


41. Maya Fey

Maya Fey in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

First appearance: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2005)

Maya has grown to become the head of the Fey clan and the Master of the Kurain Spirit Channeling Technique, but she wasn’t half as put together in the original Ace Attorney.

At first, she was your average 17-year-old gal.

Sure, she was already a medium at the time – but otherwise, she was just a normal girl.

Her bright personality and lighthearted approach to things made her the perfect assistant to the eccentric Phoenix Wright. She was a bit of a klutz, but in a very adorable way.

She’s no longer Phoenix’s assistant. But she remained his trusted counselor for life.


40. Rosalina

Rosalina in Super Smash Bros. Wii U & 3DS

First appearance: Super Mario Galaxy (2007)

Rosalina was a unique addition to the Marioverse.

An immortal cosmic goddess is just an odd fit among princesses and plumbers.

Her story is also sorrowful for a Mario character.

Rosalina lost her parents at a young age. Alone in the universe, she befriended the Lumas – a race of star-like beings with a fleeting existence that began treating her as a protective mother of sorts.

She became for the Lumas what she was missing – a mom.

It’s a story about a family that came together after finding each other in a cold, dark universe.


39. Clementine

Clementine in The Walking Dead Game Remastered

First appearance: Telltale’s The Walking Dead (2012)

Known as “Clem” by most of her companions, this young survivor is the soul of Telltale’s incredible The Walking Dead series.

The games follow her since she’s an 8-year-old kid to the ripe old age of 16.

Her story shows how growing up in extreme conditions shapes you, but reminds us that trauma doesn’t have to make us into monsters.

She lost many people along the way, so she’s much more jaded by the time she’s 16. But she remains the same kind girl deep inside her heart.


38. Lucina

Lucina Fire Emblem Warriors gameplay screenshot

First appearance: Fire Emblem: Awakening (2012)

No, that’s not Marth from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.

It’s Lucina, a descendant who conveniently happens to look just like him.

While a lot of fans would have loved to meet Marth again in Fire Emblem: Awakening, the addition of this powerful female fencer was also a hit – and her popularity even earned her a spot in SSB Ultimate.

She’s strong, independent, and persistent – enough to risk her life by traveling to the past to stop Grima from destroying the world and killing her parents.

The contrast between that and her more childish, eccentric side makes her endearing beyond measure.


37. Palutena

Palutena in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

First appearance: Kid Icarus (1986)

Pit’s boss – and closest ally – is a kind, wise, and empowered woman who cares for humankind and protects them from other immortals like her.

She believes human affairs should be solved by humans – though she’s been known to intervene in favor of humanity on more than one occasion.

I guess she’s too kind to follow her own rules!

That said, she’s also way goofier than her role as a Goddess of Light allows her to reveal. She loves puns, and she doesn’t appreciate being called “ma’am” despite being immortal and unaging.


36. Aloy

Alloy Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017) gameplay

First appearance: Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017)

Alloys are materials made by fusing metals and other elements to create a stronger, more flexible product than its parts.

This makes “Aloy” the perfect name for the main character of Horizon: Zero Dawn – a genetic clone of a 21st-century roboticist and engineer who grows up fighting for survival instead of getting a degree.

She may not be able to create a robot out of sticks and string.

But her outstanding smarts and curiosity blend with her rough-and-tough personality and survival experience to make her an incredible warrior, and a symbol of hope for her tribe.


35. Ahri

Ahri League of Legends Cinematic Trailer: A New Dawn

First appearance: League of Legends (2009)

Ahri is one of the original Legends from when Riot Games launched League of Legends.

Since then, she’s garnered a large following.

You’ll see her on merch, promotional material, cosplay, tattoos – and even music videos!

Other than wiping the floor with lesser warriors and consuming their life essence like it was a twinkie, this nine-tailed fox lady likes performing along with Akali, Evelynn, and Kai’Sa as a member of the idol group K/DA.


34. Jaina Proudmoore

Jaina Proudmoore in Warcraft III: Reforged

First appearance: Warcraft III (2002)

When she was first introduced, Jaina Proudmoore was a simple character.

All you needed to know was that she was a spellcaster – a damn powerful one – and that was about it.

With time, Jaina has become a more fleshed-out character who’s had a slow but realistic character development throughout WoW’s long history.

Once a pacifist, Jaina has progressively become a no-nonsense leader who turns to war and violence at the first sign of trouble.

She’s the representative of the Mage class in Hearthstone, and one of the most popular characters for WoW cosplay.


33. Sylvanas Windrunner

Sylvanas Windrunner in World of Warcraft

First appearance: Warcraft III (2002)

But no female character is as notorious and plain cool as the Dark Lady, Sylvanas Windrunner.

The Banshee Queen is among Azeroth’s most powerful warriors, with a cunning mind and supernatural abilities 100% powered by a deep-seated hatred of everything good.

At times, it seems as if Sylvanas is called to a higher purpose. But it’s all a facade.

Even as the Horde’s leader, her only objective was to feed new souls to the Jailer of Torghast in exchange for the power that’ll allow her to stave off her own demise.


32. Tali’Zorah

Tali'Zorah Mass Effect Trilogy game

First appearance: Mass Effect (2007)

Mass Effect would be nothing without Commander Shepherd’s harem of romanceable crew members – but there’s one that blows everyone else out of the water with her unique personality and built-in heels.

Tali’Zorah nar Rayya is a Quarian – a nomadic race that travels the stars on giant battleships known as the Migrant Fleet. Despite being part of the N7’s crew now, she cares deeply for her clan.

And she’s ready to sacrifice anything to protect them.

I end up romancing Tali every time I play Mass Effect. She’s charming, if a bit eccentric, and she always has her commander’s back.


31. Sarah Kerrigan

Sarah Kerrigan in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

First appearance: StarCraft (1998)

Blizzard has a thing for turning good, law-abiding characters into evil monsters fueled by hate.

Sarah Kerrigan started her life as a psychic Terran conscripted into the army and turned into a Ghost – special operatives who use their psychic powers as a weapon.

But that was just the beginning.

After a series of unfortunate events, Kerrigan is infested by the worm-like Zerg and fuses with their Hivemind, becoming the Queen of Blades.

She eventually transcends even form to become a Xel’Naga – basically attaining space godhood.

Talk about making the most out of a bad situation.


30. Ada Wong

Ada Wong Resident Evil 2 Remake game screenshot

First appearance: Resident Evil 2 (1998)

Ada Wong is the classic mystery of the Resident Evil franchise.

Is she good or evil? Alive or dead?

And how does she feel about Leon when push comes to shove?

We’ll probably never know. I mean, after Resident Evil 6, we can’t even be sure it’s Ada when a character that looks 100% exactly like her appears in the game anymore!

But that’s fine.

Ada Wong is the ultimate gaming femme fatale – just as dangerous as she’s mysterious, and it’s probably better if she stays that way.

What’s a double agent without some secrets of her own, right?


29. Lili

Lili Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection gameplay

First appearance: Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection

There are plenty of badass fighting gals to pick from the Tekken franchise.

But few are as memorable as Emilie De Rochefort – Lili, for short.

This beautiful rich girl is the heir to Rochefort Enterprises and her father’s incredible wealth. But for the most part, she prefers fighting to asset administration.

Her rebellious streak leads her to sneak away to throw some punches whenever she gets the chance.

Plus her character design is just fantastic, and she’s a pretty technical fighter – making her very popular among high-level Tekken players.


28. Ciri

Ciri in The Witcher III (2015)

First appearance: The Witcher III (2015)

Rather than sitting in court and learning the intricacies of politics, Princess Cirilla spent her early adolescence in Kaer Morhen training to become a Witcher.

The place was trashed before she could finish her apprenticeship, but she’s still one of the best fighters in the world of The Witcher.

Having powers over space and time that let her teleport mid-battle definitely plays a significant role in that.

She’s mean with a sword of steel or silver. And while she’s only partially a witcher, Cirilla keeps up with the best of them.


27. D.Va

D.Va Overwatch (2015) game screenshot

First appearance: Overwatch (2015)

There are several strong independent women to admire in Overwatch, but D.Va is by far the most popular thanks to her relatable personality and the fact that she pilots an awesome mecha (Tokki).

D.Va is a hero for our times.

She has the e-girl aesthetic, rose to fame thanks to her mad e-sport skills, and has to struggle with the day-to-day challenges of being a Korean celebrity – much like the members of beloved Korean bands like Blackpink and BTS.

Going on to use our FPS skills to pilot a mecha in the name of Justice is every shooter-obsessed teen’s dream, and D.Va embodies the ideal.


26. Squid Sisters

Squid Sisters Splatoon (2015) gameplay

First appearance: Splatoon (2015)

The Squid Sisters are the most famous amphibian idols of the world of Splatoon.

Their incredible popularity with fans was a driving factor in making the game so successful!

They were the showrunners of the competition during the first game, performing hits like Ink Me Up and Calamari Inkantation to their fans’ delight.

Callie’s bright personality and Marie’s low-energy sarcasm are a match made in heaven.


25. Ivy Valentine

Ivy Valentine Soulcalibur VI game

First appearance: Soulcalibur (1998)

I know raving over female characters due to their looks is a bit politically incorrect nowadays… but there’s just no way to talk about Ivy without mentioning her visual appeal.

This lady is clad in medieval BDSM gear all the time – and it just gets lewder the more video game graphics advance.

Per her dominatrix aesthetic, she wields a sword that can extend into a bladed whip as her primary weapon.

Other than her physical attractiveness, Ivy is celebrated for her unique and technical fighting style and menacing personality.

She’s also a common sight in cosplay, despite how hard her proportions and unique attire are to reproduce.

I guess people like a challenge!


24. Chell

Chell Portal (2007) gameplay

First appearance: Portal (2007)

Chell is a woman of few words.

She may very well be mute – or it could be a side-effect of spending so much time in suspended animation after failing the test to become an Aperture Science Test Subject.

The reason?

She was too persistent, which would become a problem once GLaDOS reanimated her at the beginning of the original Portal.

It turns out putting a Portal Gun in the hands of someone you kidnapped and forced into an eternal slumber isn’t the best idea.

This highly resourceful and quick-thinking lady is a force to be reckoned with.

A silent killer, if you will.


23. Jill Valentine

Jill Valentine in Resident Evil Remake

First appearance: Resident Evil (1996)

One of the two playable protagonists in the original Resident Evil, Jill quickly became a hit with all audiences.

After surviving the Spencer Mansion incident (luckily avoiding becoming a “Jill Sandwich”), she came back for RE3, where she’s even more badass and wears something a bit more fashionable than her S.T.A.R.S uniform.

Since then, she’s been a mainstay of the franchise, appearing in most games.

She’s by far one of the most prominent female gaming symbols of my childhood.


22. Claire Redfield

Claire Redfield Resident Evil 2 Remake

First appearance: Resident Evil 2 (1998)

Claire was introduced as Chris Redfield’s little sister in Resident Evil 2 – but with time, she has become even more relevant than her heroic bro.

Chris may have the muscles to punch a volcanic rock several times his size into submission, but Claire has the brains in the family – and I’d argue she’s more effective in her fight against BOWs than Chris.

Looking at the disaster that has been Jill’s characterization throughout the series, it’s nice to see Claire remain such a grounded and well-written character every time she appears.


21. Chun-Li

Chun-Li from Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

First appearance: Street Fighter 2 (1991)

Chun-Li is one of those characters that instantly changed the course of the industry by existing.

This thick-legged Interpol officer was introduced in Street Fighter 2 as the first and only female character at the time.

While the developers were unsure at first, this new feminine fighter was a hit with fans, prompting the addition of Cammy in Super Street Fighter 2 and a slew of other gals as the franchise progressed.

Fun fact: Chun-Li is well-known for her unrealistically large and muscular thighs, but it wasn’t that way in her first appearance. Each time she’s redesigned, she gets thicker.


20. Princess Peach

Princess Peach Super Mario Galaxy 2 screenshot

First appearance: Super Mario Bros. (1985)

The Ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom is incredibly popular – both with her subjects and gamer audiences.

Princess Toadstool replaced Pauline as the Marioverse’s main female character after the release of Super Mario Bros.

Despite some competition from Rosalina (and occasionally Pauline herself), it doesn’t seem like she’ll let go of the position anytime soon.

Peach doesn’t seem to do much ruling. And the Mushroom Kingdom thrives with this small-government approach.

So I guess she prefers to spend her time practicing sports, like tennis or go-karting with the rest of the Mario gang.


19. Yuna

Yuna in Final Fantasy X HD

First appearance: Final Fantasy X (2001)

Final Fantasy X is told through the perspective of weird-laughing blitzball star Tidus, but the story centers around Yuna – the true protagonist on a quest to protect the world.

Yuna is loving and caring, but also highly dutiful.

That’s what we see during the original game, where she’s willing to lay down her life if it means protecting Spira from Sin.

What makes Yuna such a special character is her transformation for FFX-2, where we see her pursuing her desires and objectives rather than fulfilling a duty.

Her visual redesign is much more comfortable, modern, and even a bit sexy to reflect her newfound freedom.


18. Isabelle

Isabelle in Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012)

First appearance: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012)

I love characters that put in the work – and Isabelle must be one of the most quietly hard-working characters in a Nintendo franchise.

I’m not only talking about her job as the major’s assistant in AC: New Leaf, but her work outside of the screen as well.

Slowly but surely, Isabelle has become the de facto mascot of the AC franchise, earning her a place on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

This cheerful doggy is a crucial part of Animal Crossing’s wholesome appeal and easily the game’s best girl.


17. Leliana

Leliana Dragon Age Origins (2009) screenshot

First appearance: Dragon Age Origins (2009)

My first game in the Dragon Age franchise was DA: Inquisition, where Leliana acts as your master of whispers and takes care of all the dark dealings needed to keep the Inquisition running.

I quickly fell in love with the character (who isn’t romance-able in DAI, because life is unfair like that).

And as I went back to the first two games in the series, my respect only deepened.

Her character development from a religious bard to the hot female version of Varys the Spider is just fantastic to watch – plus, she’s a viable romance option in DA: Origins.


16. Cortana

Cortana in Halo 5: Guardians

First appearance: Halo: Combat Evolved (2001)

Cortana is probably the most famous AI since HAL 9000.

She’s Master Chief’s closest companion throughout the entire Halo saga (after all, she lives in his helmet for the most part), and the closest thing he has to a significant other.

While she was designed as the UNSC’s most powerful AI, her personality is far from an uncaring supercomputer.

She’s witty, playful, and her emotions are just as intense as those of any human.

She also gets bored easily, which makes her even more relatable and human.


15. Commander Shepard

Commander Shepard Mass Effect (2007) game screenshot

First appearance: Mass Effect (2007)

Commander Shepard is usually depicted as male. But that’s up to the player to choose at the beginning of each Mass Effect game.

If you ask me, XX chromosomes suit the commander of the N7 much better.

This one-woman army is driven, resolute, and even a little crazy when push comes to shove – and she must do the impossible to protect her friends and peace in the galaxy.

Some of her crazy plans can result in some major screw-ups. But you can’t save all life in the universe from the Reapers without causing some races to go extinct, right?


14. Morrigan

Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins (2009)

First appearance: Dragon Age: Origins (2009)

It’s often those with the most power that feel the most vulnerable, and Morrigan is a prime example.

Raised in the Korcari Wilds by her mother, Flemeth, Morrigan was supposed to become a younger vessel for her mother’s soul.

Her harsh upbringing and the realization that even her mother saw her merely as a tool made Morrigan self-serving and profoundly distrustful of others.

Every time we see her, she seeks out power to oppose her godly progenitor.

This has made her incredibly powerful (and cool), but it will never ease her fears.

If you believe in a dog-eat-dog world, you can never be at peace.


13. Heather Mason

Heather Mason Silent Hill 3 Remake

First appearance: Silent Hill 3 (2003)

An often overlooked but cool gal from the early 2000s is Heather Mason – the daughter of Silent Hill’s original protagonist and the main character of SH3.

Well, she’s not exactly his daughter.

She’s the reincarnation of Alessa Gillespie – the source of Silent Hill’s curse – and Cheryl Mason, who Harry fails to rescue in the first game.

This makes her the target of a sinister cult, which kick-starts the events of the game.

She’s a fantastic protagonist that’s a true badass, while remaining authentic and human.

It’s not that the horror and insanity don’t get to her. But she believes suffering is a part of life, and she moves forward regardless.


12. Kassandra

Kassandra Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (2018)

First appearance: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018)

Kassandra is the best main character in the Assassin’s Creed franchise since the legendary Ezio Auditore, thanks to her charismatic personality and badass way of solving problems.

Assassin’s Creed took a turn toward hack-and-slash combat in recent years.

While sneaking around remains an aspect of gameplay, there’s barely anything stopping you from waltzing in and beating everyone to a pulp – and as a Misthios (mercenary), that’s how Kassandra likes to go about it.

If you find romance in every port in-between wiping the floor with Malakas entertaining, Kassandra’s bold personality will resonate with you on a spiritual level.


11. Elizabeth

Elizabeth Bioshock Infinite gameplay

First appearance: Bioshock Infinite (2013)

Part of your objective while playing Bioshock Infinite is to find and protect Elizabeth – the daughter of the puritan maniac running the show in Columbia.

She’s a bit scared and confused after you break her out of her cage. But in time, you’ll realize there’s a lion inside her delicate exterior.

She’s fierce – and her power to open inter-dimensional rifts by tearing the space-time continuum apart helps cement her as a bad-ass.

She’s also a surprisingly free spirit for someone who spent so much time locked up in a tower.


10. Ellie

Ellie The Last of Us 2 screenshot

First appearance: The Last of Us 2

When we first meet Ellie, she’s a brave but distrustful 14-year-old trying her best to survive in a world where man-eating fungi zombies are only half of her problems.

As it turns out, other people are still the biggest danger after the zombie apocalypse.

Ellie learns this the hard way during the first game. And all that fear, rage, and resentment are only part of what drives her forward during The Last of Us 2.

She’s one of the most complex and well-written video game characters of the last few years. And anyone who’s experienced trauma at the hands of other people can relate deeply to this tragic but resilient character.


9. Bayonetta

Bayonetta from Bayonetta (2009) video game

First appearance: Bayonetta (2009)

The last of the Umbra witches, Bayonetta is a powerful sorcerer who’s formed contracts with various demons that help her tear down the celestial power structure one angel at a time.

Rather than simply throwing fireballs or cursing her opponent, Bayonetta uses her stupidly long hair to fight.

With the help of her dark magic, it can take on the form of fists, crushing heels, and even the maw of a fearsome beast.

Usually, her hair is wrapped tight around her body, imitating leather or latex. But it’ll disappear whenever she uses it in combat – leaving her a bit “exposed”.

This was significantly toned down in her SSB Ultimate appearance, for obvious reasons.



GLaDOS Portal (2007) screenshot

First appearance: Portal (2007)

Assuming an AI’s gender is one of the oldest pitfalls in the book – but GLaDOS is different.

This Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System was made by splicing together a super-powerful computer with the mind of Caroline – Aperture Science’s director Cave Johnson’s assistant.

This process cost Caroline her life, which may explain why GLaDOS is so damn sadistic and murderous.

Once you bond with her and understand her origins throughout Portal 2, it’s hard not to root for GLaDOS – at least a little bit.


7. Tifa Lockhart

Tifa Lockhart in Final Fantasy 7 Remake

First appearance: Final Fantasy VII (1997)

We all saw this coming somewhere on this list, right?

Tifa is one of the most iconic female characters of the past few decades. She’s also one of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed the first few hours of the FFVII Remake so much.

This brawler bartender was a veritable sex symbol during my formative years.

That said, it’s her endearing personality and intriguing portrayal in the original FFVII that made her so well-loved among men and women alike.

Don’t let her good looks and kind demeanor fool you, though.

Tifa is strong like an ogre. And you don’t want to be on the receiving end of her Omnistrike if you value your physical integrity.


6. Lightning (Claire Farron)

Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII HD

First appearance: Final Fantasy XIII (2009)

If there’s something I’ve learned throughout my time playing Final Fantasy games, it’s that pink-haired women are not to be trifled with.

And Lightning is the most dangerous of them all.

This former Cocoon soldier is a combat savant of god-like skill. But what makes her truly incredible is how she managed to carry the entirety of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy on her back.

It was Lightning’s badassery (along with the game’s incredible visuals) that kept me hooked.

This versatile hero has also made a name for herself in the world of fashion.

Her outfit in the game looks incredible, but she rocks Prada and Louis Vuitton like a supermodel.


5. 2B

2B from Nier: Automata game screenshot

First appearance: Nier: Automata (2017)

The YoRHa No.2 Type B is one of YoRHa’s most advanced combat androids – as made evident when slicing and dicing all kinds of robots and other abominations during the game (if you’re any good at it, that is).

As an android made to kill, fighting comes as naturally as breathing to 2B.

But she’s a bit complicated when it comes to forming relationships and understanding feelings.

She’s an interesting character whose emotional awakening and slow but steady character development make up one of the game’s best parts – along with the incredible combat and hot androids.


4. Lara Croft

Lara Croft in Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

First appearance: Tomb Raider (1996)

Few characters in the world of gaming have the mainstream appeal of Lara Croft:

A hot badass archaeologist who’s just as good with books as she is with a 9mm.

Back in the day, her main appeal was just how she looked. Sure, she had no curves in-game (this is the original PlayStation we’re talking about).

But still, thanks to cover art and promotional material, our imagination filled in the blanks.

While she does still has a shapely body, the last slew of Tomb Raider games has placed a heavier emphasis on her curious and determined personality – as well as her remarkable ability to murder people in droves in the name of archaeology .

Actually that last part is probably a big reason why she’s this high up in our ranking.


3. The Boss

The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

First appearance: Metal Gear Solid 3 (2004)

Anyone who played through Big Boss’ origin story in Metal Gear Solid 3 knows The Boss – his mentor and mother figure who defected to the Soviet Union.

Well, at least that’s what the government wants you to believe.

In reality, The Boss sacrificed herself to avoid nuclear war. She was a patriot.

She’s known as The Mother of Special Forces, and she developed Snake’s famous CQC techniques along with Naked Snake.


2. Samus Aran

Samus Aran from Metroid: Other M

First appearance: Metroid (1986)

There’s no lack of strong female heroes in gaming nowadays.

But it hasn’t always been that way.

One of the first pioneers to carve a path for female badasses in video games was Samus Aran.

This intergalactic bounty hunter made her way to the forefront of gaming culture thanks to the incredible success of Metroid on the NES and Super Metroid on the SNES.

With time, she became a symbol of strong women in the industry, and proved that there was a market for female protagonists.

Other than her high-tech armor, Samus’s strength lies in her smarts and incredible flexibility. She can contort herself into a morph ball and pull off some amazing gymnastic feats.

How many other characters, male or female, can do what Samus does?


1. Princess Zelda

Princess Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

First appearance: The Legend of Zelda (1986)

Among the most well-known female characters in video game history stands Princess Zelda, the beautiful ruler of Hyrule who’s such a big deal that her name is always in the title instead of Link’s.

Zelda began as a damsel-in-distress for Link to save in the original Legend of Zelda.

But with each installment in the long-lived series, she became stronger and more active in the story.

Her strength lies primarily in her smarts – after all, she holds the Triforce of Wisdom.

But this can manifest itself in many ways.

In Ocarina of Time, we see her skulk around in the shadows as Sheik, while in Breath of the Wild, she’s a scholar and researcher with an adventurous streak.

Either way, she’s by far one of the most well-known ladies of the gaming world.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.