Top 10 Most Iconic Video Game Characters

Video games have evolved enormously as a medium since their beginnings. They merge gameplay with storytelling in a way other types of medium can’t even begin to grasp.

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For this reason, video games are inherently prone to creating iconic and memorable characters. Stories like movies and TV shows need to find a way for audiences to connect with their main characters. Video games, however, are able to seamlessly blend these incredible characters with the audience itself simply because the audience has to play with them.

10) Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)

Source: Metal Gear Solid 2, Konami

Like most video game characters that debuted on older consoles, Solid Snake had to wait until it evolved into better graphics to stand out on its own. When it did, however, it came to define a generation of stealth games that still dominates its class.

Unlike many fantasy games that have surreal and bizarre characters, Solid Snake excelled at simply being a soldier. However, the world of Solid metal gear was rife with fantasy and the supernatural, so the fact that this simple soldier was able to not only survive but thrive in such a wild and crazy setting means he’s a video gamer’s dream come true.

9) The Master Chief (Halo)

head master in "Halo 4" - 343 studios

Source: Halo 4, 343 Industries

Similar to Solid Snake, Master Chief is also a soldier. However, he exists in a completely sci-fi universe that allows him to be the badass he is. From the start, fans of Halo were all smitten with how Master Chief took on an entire alien force and was the sole survivor of the original game.

Complete this experience with how much Halo has grown over the years, and it’s no surprise that Master Chief’s simple yet iconic design resonates so much. It also helped that Halo was born at the birth of online gaming and esports. All of this combined created a perfect storm that allowed Master Chief to become immensely popular.

8) Scorpion (Mortal Kombat)

Source: MKX, Midway

When first created, mortal combat caused a stir in pop culture. Few have seen such a violent game before, and the franchise’s main ninjas, Scorpion and Sub-Zero, we front the series.

It is certainly debatable which of the two came to represent mortal combat more, but Scorpion outstrips its icy counterpart by a slight margin. His white eyes and iconic “come hither” line have resonated with fans for decades, making him one of the franchise’s most popular characters to date.

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7) Doom Guy / The Killer (Doom)

Source: Doom Eternal, ID Software

Loss was another game that revolutionized the gaming industry. What’s even more impressive is that it did so with a largely silent protagonist who had no personality except for his unearthly knack for ripping and tearing the hordes of Hell to shreds.

LossThe iconic cover art did a lot to promote the image of a stoic and strong soldier fighting demons on another planet. Loss as a franchise has grown, changed and expanded over the years, but the image of its main character battling a horde of monsters has not.

6) Mega Man

A shot from Mega Man Gigamix Vol. 3 (2011), Udon Entertainment

Very few games have stuck to a winning formula as seriously as mega man. Even today, the series still thrives on embracing classic graphics, levels, and boss fights, not to mention some of the most notorious difficulty curves in gaming history.

Add that to the fact that Mega Man as a character has branched out into other media as well. There have been mega man comics and cartoon shows that expanded the character far beyond the world of video games so even non-gamers could recognize him.

5) Pacman

Source: Pac-Man, Bandai Namco

Besides being a very early arcade game that became immensely popular, Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man found success for two main reasons. First, their extremely basic design made them appealing, but there’s also a gameplay reason for their popularity.

Pac man the games were simply simple to understand and play. They were yellow circles that ate dots and ran away from ghosts. In a world where video games tend to be overly complicated, simplifying things so they could resonate with adults and kids alike was a winning formula.

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4) Link (The Legend of Zelda)

Source: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo

By all accounts, The Legend of Zelda the franchise shouldn’t be as successful as it is. The games are long and quest-driven which can tend to be quite tedious, and yet Link’s image as a video game character has stood the test of time.

This is probably because many video game enthusiasts are also fantasy fans. The Legend of Zelda taps into that and has done an amazing job of refreshing it with every installment. As a character, Link’s name hasn’t resonated with mainstream audiences as much as his image, which is probably why it’s so funny when he’s often confused with the show’s namesake.

3) Pikachu (Pokemon)

Detective Pikachu (2019), Legendary Pictures, The Pokémon Company

Pikachu’s status as the face of the Pokemon The franchise has a lot more to do with the cartoon than with the game itself. At this point, however, the two have merged so well that they are one brand that has become an unstoppable force.

In a world with time-traveling aliens and gigantic bird gods, it’s strange that a cute electric mouse is the main and most popular figure. Again, the fact that Pokemon has been as successful as it has been not only in games, but in all media, shows the sympathy of Pikachu.

2) Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic Origins (2022), Sega

At the start of the console wars, there were two characters that stood out among all. A certain plumber represented Nintendo, while a speedy hedgehog became the face of Sega. It’s indisputable who ended up winning this battle, but that doesn’t mean Sonic deserves less than second place.

Lake Mario and other characters, Sonic’s appeal goes beyond the games he’s featured in. He has been involved in several successful cartoons, as well as a movie franchise that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Plus, with new games popping up all the time, it doesn’t look like Sonic’s best years are behind him.

1) Mario (Super Mario Bros.)

Official character art of

Official Nintendo “Super Mario Bros. 3” Character Art

You don’t have to be a fan of video games to know who is number one in this regard. Mario’s evolution from an unnamed character in donkey kong to the icon of an entire industry is extremely interesting.

What’s even more impressive is that its supporting cast alone is enough to fill an entire roster. Apart from the games that Mario is a star in, it has also spawned a range of sports games, board games, and everything in between. It’s unclear how much life Mario left him, but if Nintendo is successful, he’ll be here forever.

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