51) Red (Transistor)
Chris: Transistor sort of reminds me of The Little Mermaid, only if Ariel had lost her voice and then taken a giant sword and murdered Ursula and all her friends instead. Red’s tale is short but sweet, and I like how she can hum along with the soundtrack.
Shaun: For the record, that would have made The Little Mermaid a thousand times better. It’s also a ringing endorsement that alone has sold me on playing this game.
52) Franziska von Karma (Ace Attorney)
Shaun: Some people view Franziska as Phoenix’s whip-toting nemesis. I see her as a tragically flawed character who is misguided in her quest to avenge her father. I also see her as the woman Phoenix is going to one day marry, but that’s another story.
Chris: That’s nonsense. Phoenix and Iris are going to end up together. What are you even talking about. Anyway, I thought I was going to dislike Franziska at first, but once she developed more as a character (and starting using the word fool 4-6 times in a given sentence), I was on board.
53) Alice Liddell (American McGee’s Alice)
Chris: Alice is messed up (although it’s understandable, considering what happened to her family and what Bumby has done to her). Wonderland is messed up. Everything is messed up. But that’s part of the fun of the series.
Shaun: What I like is that, for the most part, she takes it in stride. She could bitch and moan about her life, and how things have turned out for her. Instead, she picks up her knife and hacks demons and monsters to death. Gotta admire the tenacity.
54) Sheena Fujibayashi (Tales of Symphonia)
Shaun: Hot-headed and quick to anger, yet altruistic and gentle when the situation calls for it, Sheena possesses a fascinating duality that has been emulated various times in the series since Symphonia. Plus she rolls with a spirit fox animal type thing, so bonus points.
Chris: Sheena was my first exposure to Jennifer Hale’s voice work, since I didn’t play KOTOR until after this. Her summoning ability, while sporadic, can be incredibly useful in battle, and her banter with Zelos throughout the game provides quite a bit of the humor in the skits.
55) Nina (Breath of Fire)
Chris: The main female protagonist throughout the series, Nina is always dependable throughout her various incarnations. My favorite is the version from II, where she is sentenced to death and expelled from her village simply because her wings are black.
Shaun: I have a soft spot for pariah characters, especially ones who are ostracized through no fault of their own. It’s also worth noting how compelling Nina was during a time when female characters were not known for being particularly well developed.
56) Flemeth (Dragon Age)
Shaun: A powerful witch who plays a hugely important role behind the scenes of Dragon Age (and often in front of them), Flemeth is….interesting, to say the least, and the ramifications or her existence and decisions are felt throughout the world.
Chris: It doesn’t seem like Morrigan’s mother, the Witch of the Wilds, could have such a huge impact — especially considering that you have the option of killing her. But it turns out that Flemeth has a lot to say about your Warden’s fate.
57) Oerba Yun Fang (Final Fantasy XIII)
Chris: My pick for one of the strongest characters in all of Final Fantasy, male or female. Her devotion to protecting Vanille no matter what is admirable. She’s probably my favorite in the dumpster fire that was XIII.
Shaun: Hmm…maybe physically the strongest, but I don’t know how well her character stacks up with some of the others in this series. Still, I will agree that she was one of the best parts of the train wreck XIII, and far better than Lightning, who gets lauded with “strong female” accolades despite being little better than damp cardboard.
Chris: Right, one of the strongest physically. I wouldn’t dare put her or anyone from XIII on a best-written list because if I see one more word with an apostrophe and Cie at the end of it, I’m going to kill someone.
58) Kazooie (Banjo Kazooie)
Shaun: I freaking love Kazooie. Banjo’s faithful partner, her sarcastic wit and straight-up utility make her the clear choice on which member of this partnership is most valuable.
Chris: I respect Kazooie for her willingness to say whatever the hell is on her mind. To me, she was also the better choice for traversing areas or fighting. And let’s be honest — a cool-looking bird beats a honey bear any day of the week.
59) Heather Mason (Silent Hill 3)
Chris: Considering the series, it will probably not surprise you when I say that Heather (Cheryl?)’s life is pretty miserable. The parts with her dad are especially sad. But if you’re living in Silent Hill, I say you bring this upon yourself.
Shaun: Like I said before, if you’re in Silent Hill, you’ve earned a spot on this list. No one should have to deal with what these characters do. Welcome, Heather. There are donuts in the back.
60) Ayla (Chrono Trigger)
Shaun: Ayla is interesting, determined, and a battle-tested warrior. But we messed up if she’s ahead of Marle. Just saying.
Chris: I appreciated Ayla’s broken sentences and her resolve in battle and her ability to eat stew until everyone passed out. That’s great. But I agree — we probably messed up if Marle wasn’t higher. We all messed up.
61) Raine Sage (Tales of Symphonia)
Chris: Look, she’s a little too obsessed with ruins and other historical artifacts and she’s terrified of water. But she’s also the driving force that guides what is otherwise an extremely young party, especially once Kratos leaves to do…other things.
Shaun: She pulls off the “motherly figure” role in the party without being overbearing or annoying, which is tough to do.
62) Aigis (Persona 3)
Shaun: Quite possibly the face of the Persona series, and to this date one of the most interesting characters as well. I have a soft spot for the whole “does this robot actually have a heart” dilemma. She’s like a more intelligible Terminator.
Chris: Aigis ends up in a hell of a dilemma. She tries to embrace her humanity as much as possible, but she’s the only person who remembers anything about Tartarus or Death besides the protagonist, who eventually dies in her arms. This sets up an internal conflict that takes over the epilogue of P3 and sets the stage for P4 in the process.
63) Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect)
Chris: Miranda’s skills were always useful to my party, but I was more interested in her because I had just finished watching Chuck and Yvonne Strahovski was behind the character, accent and all.
Shaun: Despite what I have perceived as a lot of hate for this character for being an ice queen, I found her character struggles to be really fascinating. Here’s this person genetically designed to be superior in every way, and yet she struggles with self-assurance and security like all the rest of us. It helps that she supported my Shepard’s revolt against Cerberus and The Illusive Man in key moments when I needed her.
64) Rose of Sharon Cassidy (Fallout: New Vegas)
Shaun: Flawed, dynamic, and incredibly interesting, Cass gets bonus points for being the daughter of a companion in Fallout 2. I’m a sucker for continuity and callbacks.
Chris: To me, I spend my time in Fallout and Skyrim and other such open-world games in two distinct stages. I want to be on my own in the beginning, making my way through towns and exploring new areas as I try to survive. But once I’m stronger, I try to recruit a companion to give me some witty banter and extra fighting support. Cass was my choice in New Vegas, and I never regretted it.
65) Anise Tatlin (Tales of the Abyss)
Chris: You wouldn’t expect a girl of this age to be so sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, but I suppose that’s what happens when your parents are mostly useless and you have to earn a living to help your whole family survive.
Shaun: Could have easily been a Mary Sue cardboard character. Thank goodness she wasn’t.
66) Nilin Cartier-Wells (Remember Me)
Shaun: A strong-willed, resourceful character who is unfortunately headlining a poorly executed game. Maybe Remember Me 2 will give the character the spotlight she deserves.
Chris: Conceptually, I loved the idea behind Remember Me. It’s a shame that it didn’t deliver on a multitude of potential. Nilin could have been much more.
67) Bonnie MacFarlane (Red Dead Redemption)
Chris: Bonnie saves John Marston’s life. She teaches him how to rope. John saves Bonnie’s life. Their dialogue exchanges are great. But because John Marston is loyal to his wife, these two were never meant to be. Their friendship is part of what got me hooked on RDR, though.
Shaun: Red Dead Redemption simply nails all of its characters, and Bonnie is no exception. She’s not a caricature or plot device — she’s a real woman dealing with the situations laid at her front door, and this simplicity makes her compelling.
68) Syrenne (The Last Story)
Shaun: Don’t let her ridiculous outfit fool you — Syrenne is an elite warrior, and probably the emotional core of the Last Story party.
Chris: As we mentioned on the guys’ list, her interactions with Lowell were always entertaining. Once she had finagled her way into a couple (hundred) drinks, there was no telling what she might say next.
69) Edea (Final Fantasy VIII)
Chris: Edea’s story was one of the few things that kept me slogging through VIII. Admittedly, I like the surprise turn that her character takes in the second half, when she goes from antagonist to party member for a time.
Shaun: Complex and layered, Edea was Final Fantasy VIII’s best, most cleverly written character. Period.
70) Aeris Gainsborough (Final Fantasy VII)
Shaun: Look, what can we even say here about a character whose death is probably the most iconic in gaming (although notably not the best). Aeris was sweet, upbeat, and extremely capable, and her death served as the catalyst for the heroes to ultimately save the day. Aeris was instrumental to the plot of VII on multiple levels, but she often gets overshadowed by her shocking death, which is a shame.
Chris: I always resented Aeris a little, because I favor characters who heal and put a lot of time into her leveling on Disc 1 — only to have her go and get impaled by Sephiroth’s sword. Even almost two decades later, her death is still one of the most impactful in video game history.
71) Ayane (Dead or Alive)
Chris: Despite its sometimes ridiculous story and always ridiculous physics, I’m glad someone from DOA made an appearance on our list. Ayane might be the most well-known from the series because of her purple hair and surprisingly deadly personality.
Shaun: Beyond her design and fight style, Ayane is a surprisingly tragic character whose violent history has led her down the road of the antagonist. However, she has started to get a grip with her past, and her dabbles with Ryu and the good guys have made her all the more compelling.
72) Sylvanas Windrunner (Warcraft)
Shaun: It takes a certain amount of dedication to, after dying and being revived as an undead puppet, to regain your free will and use your genius level military tactics and impressive leadership to rebel against the Lich King. Sylvanas — I recognize you.
Chris: Yeah, there are redemption stories, and then there is Sylvanas. “Redemption” isn’t catching the thief who stole your wallet and punching him in the face — it’s deciding that your murderer is a son of a bitch and going through hell and back to stop his plans.
73) Hammer (Fable 2)
Chris: Hammer is a rarity among female characters in that she has as much brute strength as anyone — and it’s completely believable. Not to be messed with under any circumstances.
Shaun: Think Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones, but with less character development and more ridiculous strength. That’s Hammer.
74) Jack (Mass Effect)
Shaun: It’s kind of funny that Mass Effect 3 gets so much hate, because aside from its controversial ending, it did a superb job of fleshing out its cast. Much like I mentioned with Ashley earlier, Jack is made to be a much more interesting, sympathetic, mature character in 3 than the irritatingly abrasive kill machine in 2.
Chris: Unfortunately, Jack’s ship had already sailed for me by the time I got to ME3, so other than a few angry conversations in the belly of the Normandy in 2, I didn’t spend much time with her. Maybe I owe her another shot.
75) Rita Mordio (Tales of Vesperia)
Chris: A prodigious girl with a singular focus, she takes challenges head-on. She’s also one of the few people in this game willing to go toe-to-toe with Yuri in an argument, which has to count for something. Also, her Tidal Wave is broken.
Shaun: Rita’s extensive knowledge was one of the key factors of the party’s success in Vesperia. I would say more positive things, but my playthrough was tainted by ATB crewmember Jason having her cast Fireball 300 million times. I still have nightmares about it when I close my eyes.