When coming up with this list of the 10 Most Iconic Female Video Game Characters, we had to consider what made female game characters memorable. Some of these characters are praised for their strong personalities and deep moral convictions that made them stand out in a world where most females were portrayed as sex icons. Others… were those very same sex icons. Still, if you asked a gamer to quickly think of a female video game character, he would probably name one of these ladies of gaming. These are the Most Iconic Female Video Game Characters.
Chell somehow became an iconic game character without actually being seen throughout the majority of the game. As the first person protagonist of Portal, you would think she is little more than a stand in for the player themselves. Yet, every time you go to a gaming convention, you see tons of girls wearing an orange jump suit, strange springy boots, and holding a portal gun. No wonder she made it on our list of the Most Iconic Female Video Game Characters.
Unfortunately, not all of gaming’s most iconic female characters are strong portrayals of women. Bayonetta sort of stands as an icon for how blatantly we oversexualize the female form. She wears a skintight bodysuit made of hair that unravels as she attacks, leaving her nude. It’s blatant fanservice. Still, she is a character loved by many from a game that was critically acclaimed so she shouldn’t be overlooked.
Chun-Li is the first lady of fighting games. Whenever Street Fighter needs a representative in a crossover game, Chun-Li is the most natural choice after Ryu. She has shown up in the Marvel vs. series, the SNK vs. series, the Tekken vs. series, Namco X Bandai, Project X Zone, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Capcom Fighting Jam, and much, much, more. She was also one of the most played characters from Street Fighter II, probably because she had the original mashy special move: lightning legs.
Jill Valentine is the female character you think of when you think of horror games. She hails from Resident Evil where she has been hero, villain, NPC, and more. She’s a tough gal who has killed more than her fair share of zombies and monsters, and she only recently gained super powers when Wesker put a strange mutant crab on her chest.
Speaking of strange mutant crabs, Sarah Kerrigan is one of gaming’s most iconic female video game characters and one of gaming’s most iconic video game aliens as well. This Starcraft character was betrayed by her people and government, given up to the Zerg, and eventually corrupted into what is essentially an alien space empress. She continues to play an important role in the Starfraft story to this day, even as new expansions for Starcraft II come out.
Zelda is simultaneously one of the strongest and one of the weakest female video game characters in existence. Why? Because there are so many of her! The Ocarina of Time Zelda took matters into her own hands by assuming the role of Sheik, meanwhile the Twilight Princess Zelda did little more than wait to be rescued. Then you have the Skyward Sword Zelda who is kind of middle of the road, a strong independent non-royal character that just so happens to get kidnapped by the forces of evil. Still, her mark in gaming cannot be ignored as one of the oldest and most revered females.
There are largely three types of female video game characters. There is the strong female character that has a clear personality and is fleshed out as a human being, there is the oversexualized character that is used as fan bait, and then there is the damsel in distress that is used as little more than motivation for the male main character. This is Princess Peach to a "T;" the most well known damsel in distress in video game history. It’s nice to see her take charge every so often, like in Super Mario Bros. 2 or Super Mario RPG, but more often than not she spends her days getting kidnapped by Bowser.
Aeris took the idea of a damsel in distress and turned it on its head. Yes, she was an innocent flower girl living in the slums of a city, but you never needed to save her. She took the fate of the entire world into her own hands, sacrificing her life in order to stop the plans of Sephiroth. Fans the world over have searched for years for ways to bring her back to life but short of using a Gameshark, she will simply stay dead in the ground. I guess this also makes Aeris one of the Most Iconic Dead Video Game Characters as well.
Lara Croft has both been a strong female role model and a sex object… sometimes in the same game! She went up against zombies, cultists, angry gods, tigers that need to be shot fifty times in the face in order to die, and much more. She was a poster child for the early days of polygonal graphics, for more reasons than just her breasts… though that did factor into it.
Finally, the Most Iconic Female Video Game Character of all time is a character that people weren’t completely sure was female in the first place. Back in the days of the NES, you were lucky to have a game character with a defined gender at all much lessa strong female character. I mean, this was the era where a pill chomping yellow circle cut it as a popular video game protagonist. Nonetheless, when Samus first took off her helmet at the end of Metroid and showed us that this badass space marine that we were playing was a woman the whole time, the gaming community was flipped on its head. Samus was the first strong female that we ever saw in the world o gaming and she paved the way for nearly every other female video game character after her.