WIth the honorable mention and other hangers-on relegated to their forgotten status, it’s time to dive into the top 100. Remember, this list was intended to show our group’s 25 best characters, but we go through more than that because the results are usually pretty interesting. Because our panel increased in size for this list, you had to get at least decent support from someone just to make it this far.
Tomorrow, the list starts to get more serious — we’ll look at #75-51 on our journey to the best male character of all-time.
76) Neku Sakuraba (The World Ends With You)
Shaun: Neku is one of Square-Enix’s most interesting, grounded, coolest characters…which doesn’t take a lot considering the competition, but he should still be recognized for it.
Chris: The protagonist of one of the most slept-on games of the last decade, Neku just wants to be left alone. Luckily, he progresses from being a whiny little brat as the story goes on.
77) Fox McCloud (Starfox)
Chris: I’m not sure Fox is the most interesting character ever produced (which is why he fell off my list as one of the final cuts), but he still earns points for keeping the team together and avenging his dad’s death.
Shaun: For Star Fox 64 and Star Fox 64 alone, Fox McCloud can make a case for this list. Although with so many of his best moments created by Star Wolf, I don’t know how much credit actually goes to Fox….
78) The Arbiter (Halo)
Shaun: Behind Cortana, The Arbiter is easily the most complex and sympathetic character in this franchise, and the reason why the unconventional Halo 2 is one of my favorite games of this series. Score another win on our list from Keith David.
Chris: Halo 2 was disappointing and its ending is one of the worst in video game history. That said, The Arbiter provided a meaningful counterbalance to the stoic/boring nature of Master Chief, so I appreciate him for that.
79) Jade Curtiss (Tales of the Abyss)
Chris: Sarcastic and smart to a fault, Jade keeps the other characters on their toes because they never know if he’s being serious. He also guides you through one of the most difficult boss fights in the game by being ridiculously overleveled.
Shaun: One of a few characters from a Tales game to make our list, Jade reminds me to some extend of L from Death Note. That is a significant compliment.
80) Arthas Menethil (Warcraft 3)
Shaun: With biceps bigger than five of me, Arthas possesses one of the better “corrupted hero” arches in gaming.
Chris: Arthas seemed like a pretty legit guy until he went and became the Lich King. There’s no future in being the Lich King, Arthas.
81) Caesar (Fallout: New Vegas)
Chris: Caesar’s a little crazy and he’s pretty much on a fast track to death, but he serves as a strong antagonist for just about anyone who played New Vegas. I enjoyed killing him.
Shaun: I owned his ass and then I tea-bagged him. And tea-bagging’s not even a thing I do. Testament to his character?
82) Sabin (Final Fantasy VI)
Shaun: Turning down a shot at the throne to learn ninja abilities in the wilderness is just one of the reasons why Sabin is my favorite protagonist in Final Fantasy VI. BUM RUSH, BITCHES.
Chris: You remember that time he held up an entire mansion to let you save a child, but also knew the limits of his strength enough to give you an exact timer for how long he could endure? Those were the days.
83) The Kid (Bastion)
Chris: The Kid is another example of why silent protagonists are sometimes the strongest — without the benefit of words, you have to make expressions and interactions with other characters matter the most.
Shaun: I feel like The Kid is a character straight from “Link’s School of Silent Character Design.” It’s okay to let the setting and the expression tell the story, developers.
84) Isaac Clarke (Dead Space)
Shaun: This guy is just an ENGINEER! He didn’t ask for any of this. And yet he continues to overcome both horrific monsters and literal insanity in every installment. He and Ripley need to have an alien-ass-kicking baby.
Chris: Bonus points for having a great relationship with his wife and then somehow finding another girl in the dark reaches of space. Minus points for willingly allowing a needle to go into his eye. Didn’t need to see that.
85) CJ Johnson (Grand Theft Auto III)
Chris: Another moldable character, but this one is in the most literal sense — you could work out and have CJ get ripped, or just let him be a slob who still killed hundreds of cops. His story might be the best of any GTA protagonist, too.
Shaun: You’re not wrong – my CJ was ripped out of his mind and could bike better than [insert elite BMX athlete name here]. Easily my personal favorite GTA hero, he’s only second in my book to John Marston in Rockstar’s pantheon of protags.
86) Vivi Ornitier (Final Fantasy IX)
Shaun: Cute on the outside, scarred by existential quandaries on the inside. He can also summon meteors from space. What more can you ask for?
Chris: Poor Vivi suffers through more heartbreak than we ever will, all in the span of a few days. The other black mages he encounters are mostly mindless puppets and everyone dies in about a year! Yay!
87) Lowell (The Last Story)
Chris: Lowell manages to provide a solid amount of comic relief in The Last Story, because his banter with Syrenne continues to be amusing. He’s also quite useful in battle.
Shaun: Most of the time, characters like Lowell fail at trying to be funny, and also suck at battle. It’s nice to see Lowell succeeds where others don’t.
88) David Anderson (Mass Effect)
Shaun: An underappreciated character in Mass Effect, Keith David’s Captain Anderson is one of the series’ most important players, and an anchoring point of stability for Commander Shepard.
Chris: While the Council is off being a bunch of douchebags, Captain Anderson manages to be one of your only reliable allies through the entire ME series, from beginning to end.
89) Joel (The Last of Us)
Chris: I’ve heard some folks describe Joel as being a little too distant to be relatable — well, did you play the freaking prologue? I think he’s earned some emotional dissonance!
Shaun: What I love about Joel is everything about him is so REAL! Yeah, when Ellie meets him, he’s kind of a douche. But he grows warmer as the story progresses, and the complexity to his character, even when he’s icy, is what resonates with me so much.
90) Sam and Max (Sam and Max)
Shaun: Yeah, they’re great, but it’s still cheating to have two characters in one slot.
Chris: A dog in a suit and a bunny. All right. Still, we’re not doing tag-team wrestling here, otherwise this list would have been very different.
91) Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem)
Chris: HIs return after a colossal delay was almost a complete disaster, but somehow Duke managed to retain most of his raunchy humor without sounding too out-of-date — like most of his game’s mechanics.
Shaun: I mean…he’s iconic? It might not be the compliment you want to hear, but it’s…positive?
92) Big Boss (Metal Gear Solid)
Shaun: One of the most interesting, truly tragic characters in gaming, Metal Gear Solid 5 is shaping up to be a masterpiece because it will chronicle how Naked Snake fell from hero in Metal Gear Solid 3 to the villain we know from Metal Gear 1 and 2.
Chris: Everything about that sentence just confused me. That doesn’t make any chronological sense, and it doesn’t inspire me to dive head-first into MGS’s insanity.
Shaun: Snake? SNAAAAAKE! *DU DU DUUUU
93) Vergil (Devil May Cry)
Chris: Always a foil to his brother (who didn’t even make our top 100), Virgil completes his transformation into a badass by wearing a bowler hat in Devil May Cry 5. All the ladies love Virgil.
Shaun: The best bad guys always serve as a foil for our protagonist by walking that fine line between ambition and ruthlessness. Virgil’s grey morality is what elevates him. And yes, his bowler hat.
94) Kyle Katarn (Star Wars: Jedi Knight)
Shaun: Perhaps the most popular Jedi within the Extended Universe?
Chris: Probably either him or Garen Malek, and since The Force Unleashed 2 was so negatively received, I’m going to have to agree!
95) Deckard Cain (Diablo)
Chris: This poor old man has some of the funniest voice acting I’ve ever heard. I’m never quite sure what to make of it. Oh, and he helped stopped Diablo. So that’s nice.
Shaun: If I’m cool enough to stop Diablo when I’m as old as this guy, I’ll consider it a life well played.
96) Ragna the Bloodedge (BlazBlue)
Shaun: The poster boy of one of the most frustratingly technical fighters I’ve ever played.
Chris: I love Ragna’s design, from his color scheme down to his giant sword. I’ve only dabbled in BlazBlue — maybe when I pick up a fightstick, I’ll give it a second chance.
97) Corvo Attano (Dishonored)
Chris: This is the first of several names on this list that kinda depends on how you played the game. Was your Corvo a sneaky pacifist or a bloodthirsty murderer? Either way, he was pretty cool.
Shaun: You’re right, but “Good” Corvo fulfills the queen’s last wishes of saving the city, and also serves as a role model that keeps the young, impressionable princess from falling to corruption. That’s pretty awesome. Awesom-er than the bad one.
98) Knight Artorias (Dark Souls)
Shaun: If this was a list of the top 100 gaming badasses, I feel like this selection would have been higher.
Chris: If this was a list of the top 100 gaming badasses, I feel like Grit wouldn’t have been on it. Sorry, Grit.
99) Grit (Advance Wars 2)
Chris: A cool guy with a yellow duster straight out of a Western, from a series that really should get more props than it does? I’m okay with it.
Shaun: I used to love this series, so I’m glad one of its COs is getting some love on this list.
100) Domasi “Tommy” Tawodi (Prey)
Shaun: I always thought Tommy was sort of annoying, but he arguably would have had a shot at being more iconic had his series not been through some of the worst development hell in all of history. Maybe our grandkids will be able to enjoy Prey 2.
Chris: Prey’s progress is baffling to me. I remember hearing about the game when I was a kid; it’s almost incomprehensible that it took more than a decade to be released, and now the sequel is stuck in limbo as well. Tommy? He seems okay. Shame he’s stuck in purgatory somewhere.