We’ve had no shortage of awesome female characters in video games in the past two decades, but here’s a list of the very best ones that really left an impression on us.
Best Female Characters in Video Games
Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn
Possibly one of the most popular Sony mascots right now, Aloy was the lead female character in Horizon: Zero Dawn, where she battled a bunch of robot dinosaurs while trying to find out the truth about her lineage. Portrayed by Ashly Burch, Aloy is a spunky woman who doesn’t take any crap from anyone, and her headstrong nature has endeared her to many players.
Chloe – Life Is Strange/BTS
Chloe Price was perhaps one of the most polarizing characters in Life Is Strange, but her portrayal in the prequel Before the Storm fleshed her out further as a character and gave players a reason to actually sympathize with her. Chloe continues to be one of the most lovable rebels we’ve seen in video games in recent years.
Madeline – Celeste
Celeste was one of the most outstanding and charming indie games we played last year, thanks in no small part to Madeline’s adorable, yet also very relatable portrayal in the game. Madeline suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, but her trek up the mystical mountain of Celeste is nothing short of inspiring and heartwarming at the same time.
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider
Lara Croft probably needs no introduction at this point. She was the snarky badass who wouldn’t hesitate to empty a whole clip into her enemies when backed in a corner, and the reboot series has also helped to paint a slightly softer and more vulnerable side to her. We’re still excited to see reboot Lara eventually morph into the sarcastic warrior we all know and love, but for now, we’re content with just enjoying the journey.
FemShep – Mass Effect
Commander Shepard is one of the most beloved characters in video game history, and Jennifer Hale truly brings this iconic character to life with her fantastic voice work. Whether you’re playing as a Renegade or Paragon, FemShep continues to be an extremely well-written protagonist with fantastic one-liners we’ll never forget.
Kassandra – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Similar to the FemShep situation in Mass Effect, Kassandra is pretty much the superior character choice for anyone playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Voiced by Melissanthi Mahut, Kassandra is the perfect mix of certified badass, cheeky, and compassionate all rolled up into one. She has this magical twinkle in her voice when she speaks, whether she’s threatening to slit someone’s throat or trying to charm the pants off her latest paramour. I’m not crushing on Kassandra, you’re crushing on Kassandra.
Senua – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice impressed us thoroughly with its marvelous use of audio cues and sound design, and with its very visceral portrayal of what it’s like to live with a mental illness. Senua herself is an incredibly well-realized female protagonist who truly compelled us with the way she dealt with the voices in her head and the enemies around her.
Bayonetta – Bayonetta
Yet another queen who needs no introduction, Bayonetta is the confident, sassy role model we all wish we were. She faces her problems head-on, with a quick-witted attitude that never ceases to entertain, and she beats her foes up in a stylish manner to boot.
Samus Aran – Metroid
Samus is one of the oldest and most memorable female protagonists in video games, thanks to the little ‘twist’ at the end of the first game that revealed that she was, indeed, a woman and not a man like most players had assumed up to that point. Everything in her cool space suit design just screams style, and you bet your bottom dollar we’re hyped as hell for her return in Metroid Prime 4. Whenever that becomes a thing.
2B/A2 – NieR: Automata
So we’re cheating a little bit here, but since 2B and A2 are kind of like co-protagonists in NieR: Automata and function as opposite sides of the same coin, we figured we’d include the both of them. Both women are some of the most tortured characters we’ve ever seen in video games, but they own their pain and emerge from it as powerful fighters who have only grown from their experiences. To say any more would count as spoilers for Automata’s compelling story, but suffice it to say that 2B and A2 are possibly some of the strongest female protagonists we’ve seen in recent years.
Claire – Resident Evil 2
Claire Redfield’s always been a fan-favorite in the Resident Evil series, but she never really got her time in the spotlight since the original Resident Evil 2, as she was mostly relegated to side games and movies. The Resident Evil 2 remake has given her a new lease on life, though, as we’re introduced to this slightly spunkier version of Claire, while also being reminded of her very caring and maternal side when Sherry gets involved.
Jill – Resident Evil 3
It’s been a while since we last saw Jill Valentine as well, but her role in Resident Evil 3 has certainly cemented her as one of the best female leads in the series. Her encounters with the terrifying Nemesis are consistently entertaining, and she definitely won all our hearts when she finally faced him at the end of the game. “You want S.T.A.R.S.? I’ll give you S.T.A.R.S.!”
Red – Transistor
Arguably the best game that Supergiant has put out yet, Transistor tells a rather Kill Bill-esque story where female protagonist Red goes on a journey of revenge, hunting down the criminals who killed her boyfriend and trapped him in a giant sword. Despite her silence throughout the entire game, Red commands attention onscreen, and she doesn’t need words to convey how she’s feeling at any given point in time.
Ellie – The Last of Us
Ellie has quickly risen through the ranks to become the ultimate Sony first-party exclusive sweetheart. Her debut in The Last of Us introduced us to a young, relatable girl with a lot of grit and heart. Her DLC appearance gave us a glimpse into her past and her capacity to love, and we absolutely cannot wait to see how she seemingly falls into a dark descent when The Last of Us Part II rolls around.
Clementine – The Walking Dead
Clementine kind of falls into the same archetype as Ellie, in that they both started as young girls caught in post-apocalyptic zombie worlds, then became hardened fighters who would do whatever it takes to survive. The difference is, we actually got to watch Clementine grow up over the course of several seasons, and we’re definitely glad we got to witness the fitting conclusion to her story.
Yuna – Final Fantasy X
Possibly one of, if not the best female character in the entire Final Fantasy series, Yuna’s story is compelling right from the very start. She’s easily one of the most tortured characters in Final Fantasy, thanks to the heavy burden she’s chosen to carry as a summoner, and the way she forces herself to smile through it all. Yuna’s story arc is utterly beautiful and compelling, and she didn’t even need a lighthearted sequel to sell us on how developed of a character she is!
Frau Engel – Wolfenstein
If we’re talking about most memorable female characters in video games from the past decade, we’d be remiss not to mention Frau Engel from the Wolfenstein games. This lady is vicious, violent, and frighteningly sadistic. She’s easily one of the most terrifying villains we’ve encountered in recent years, and her presence makes Wolfenstein all the more compelling.
GLaDOS – Portal
Speaking of scary female characters in video games, GLaDOS is certainly up there as one of the scariest and charming villains. Despite her calm AI voice, GLaDOS definitely takes pleasure in torturing Chell through her series of trials and experiments, and she’s memorable for her gleeful attempts at making the player feel as worthless as possible. We love her.
Nadine Ross – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Uncharted 4 was an exciting conclusion to Nathan Drake’s story for a variety of reasons, and Nadine Ross’ no-nonsense attitude was one of them. Alongside the charismatic Chloe Frazer (who is also amazing, by the way), Nadine finally got her chance to shine and develop in The Lost Legacy. She was portrayed as a rather one-dimensional in Uncharted 4, but getting to see more depth to her really helped cement her as a worthy protagonist to the Uncharted series.
The Boss – Metal Gear Solid 3
Is there a female character in video games more iconic than The Boss? We’re not sure if such a person exists, but let us know if you find her. The Boss is presented as the ultimate patriot, the woman who loved her country so much she was willing to go down in history as a treasonous traitor who would forever be hated by her countrymen. Out of all the characters we’ve listed here thus far, The Boss is by far the toughest woman we’ve seen in video games so far, both physically and mentally. By the time MGS3’s twist is revealed to us, there’s no holding back the tears as Big Boss gives her a final, farewell salute.