20 Popular Video Game Characters Anyone Would Recognize

20 Popular Video Game Characters Anyone Would Recognize

Video games — much like comic books, film, and television — have spawned numerous iconic characters over the years. In similar fashion to those other mediums, video game characters have come to represent the art to fans all over the world, in many cases transcending gaming entirely as de-facto brand ambassadors. Here are some of gaming’s most iconic and easily recognizable characters that even your grandma would know.

1. Samus Aran

The protagonist of the famed “Metroid” series, Samus Aran – known for her broad-shouldered, orange power armour — has been a fixture in Nintendo’s illustrious gaming roster for decades. Her high-octane adventures span several games over multiple console generations; all while concealing her true identity as one of the earliest leading ladies in gaming.

GamecharPat Loika on Wikimedia Commons

2. Minecraft Steve

As the default character in the massively popular sandbox game, Minecraft, Steve has become a beloved and iconic figure among fans of the series. With his teal shirt and blue jeans, Minecraft Steve is often regarded as the mascot of the worldwide phenomenon, even making an appearance in Nintendo’s “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”.

Nina-Rivas-6El Lmjdwjm-UnsplashPhoto by Nina Rivas

3. Link

Armed with his trusty sword and shield, the green tunic-adorned Link has served as the main protagonist for Nintendo’s celebrated “Legend of Zelda” series for decades now. Link’s arduous trials and tribulations saving Princess Zelda (the series’ namesake) have produced some of Nintendo’s most beloved and highly acclaimed titles, routinely helping to assert the developer and console manufacturer’s reputation as one of the best in the business. 

Ryan-Quintal-S7Phrjujnea-UnsplashPhoto by Ryan Quintal

4. Pikachu

As the electrifying and adorable mascot of the massively popular Pokémon franchise, Pikachu has been a mainstay in pop culture since his introduction all the way back in 1996. Since then Pokémon — with Pikachu as the face of the brand — has gone on to become an undeniable cultural phenomenon spanning multiple games, films, and television series; not to mention an ungodly amount of Pikachu-adorned toys and merchandise. 

Mika-Baumeister-7P2Qxupmr9I-UnsplashPhoto by Mika Baumeister 


5. Laura Croft 

Lara Croft, the rugged and fearless protagonist of the famed “Tomb Raider” series, has been a fixture in console gaming since her first genre-defining adventure back in 1996. Since then, her profile in the gaming and cultural zeitgeist has only risen with several highly acclaimed sequels and reboots, alongside a number of feature-length Hollywood films. 

Tomb Raider (9547042067)Stefan Schubert on Wikimedia Commons

6. Master Chief

As the face of the “Halo” series, Master Chief — the green armour-clad super-soldier tasked with saving humanity from the alien covenant threat — is not only synonymous with “Halo” but the Xbox brand in general. The “Halo” series has been an integral part of the gaming world since the early 2000s and single-handedly established Microsoft’s burgeoning console enterprise for decades to come. 

1024Px-Master Chief (17020481488)Cory Denton on Wikimedia Commons

7. Chun-Li

First appearing in Capcom’s “Street Fighter II” in 1991, Chun-Li is widely recognized as one of the first prominent female characters in a fighting game. She became an instant star among gamers and has remained a permanent fixture in the famed Capcom fighting series, making appearances in all subsequent installments as well as several feature-length films inspired by the games.

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8. Cloud Strife

Cloud Strife, the spikey-haired protagonist of the massively popular Final Fantasy VII, is often described as one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. Although the central figure in only one of several “Final Fantasy” games, Strife has come to represent the series to gamers worldwide, often making appearances in other titles like “Kingdom Hearts” and “Super Smash Bros.”

Cosplay Of Cloud Strife William Tung 1

9. Pac-Man

Pac-Man, the insatiable yellow orb responsible for “Pac-Man Fever”, has been an iconic figure since the earliest days of gaming. The Pac-Man craze of the early 80s pushed arcades and gaming to the forefront of popular culture and made the character a bonafide superstar. The enduring video game icon has remained relevant through countless adaptations and merchandise to this day. 

Santa Claus Parade (Toronto) (23053082285)Randy Landicho on Wikimedia Commons

10. Donkey Kong

Originally known for simply being Mario’s indignant, barrel-throwing adversary, Donkey Kong became a superstar in his own right. With the acclaimed “Donkey Kong Country” series of games, and noteworthy appearance in other Nintendo titles like “Mario Kart” and “Super Smash Bros.”, Donkey Kong has cemented himself as a beloved and permanent fixture in the famed Nintendo ecosystem. 

Ryan-Quintal-Fdd0Hnctemk-UnsplashPhoto by Ryan Quintal


11. Ryu

As a central figure in the esteemed “Street Fighter” series of games, Ryu has come to not only represent one of gaming’s most iconic franchises but also fighting games on the whole. With “Street Fighter” still going strong decades after its initial release, it's safe to say that the white gi and red headband-clad martial arts superstar has effectively  “hadouken'd” his way into the hearts of gamers worldwide. 

Ryan-Quintal-Rt0Fxxxvf4W-UnsplashPhoto by Ryan Quintal

12. Bowser

Donkey Kong was swiftly replaced as Mario’s primary foe when Nintendo devised something far more sinister: Bowser. The ornery fire-breathing King of the Koopas has served as Mario's perennial nemesis in the "Super Mario" series since the late 80s. Since then he’s become a gaming superstar in his own right, famously portrayed by Jack Black in the recent “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”. 

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13. Sonic the Hedgehog

The blue, spikey-haired supersonic hedgehog has served as the poster boy for Sega’s once-dominant gaming empire since his introduction on the Sega Genesis. Since then, Sega’s defacto mascot has become synonymous with gaming, spawning cartoons, comic books, and multiple feature films.

Ben-Griffiths-L1Jfuvwd7Ru-UnsplashPhoto by Ben Griffiths 

14. Solid Snake

Serving as the main protagonist in Hideo Kojima’s beloved “Metal Gear Solid” series, Solid Snake is one of the most iconic and enduring video game characters of all time. The rugged, gravelly-voiced tactical espionage expert has seen his fair share of convoluted, conspiracy-laced adventures — yet gamers are still clamouring for more to this day. 

Sdcc 2012 - Captain America & Solid Snake (8005186431)Pat Loika

15. Mario

With his famous red hat and iconic moustache, Mario is up there with Mickey Mouse as one of the World’s most recognizable fictional characters. Hailing from Nintendo’s seminal “Super Mario” series, the overall-sporting plumber has been an integral part of our lives since the ’80s. With the character’s recent foray into major motion pictures, his mass appeal shows no sign of waning any time soon. 

Boukaih-2Asfyaytbpi-UnsplashPhoto by Boukaih

16. Megaman

Known for his iconic blue armored suit and cannon arm, Megaman (aka Rockman) has been a fixture in the gaming world since his introduction way back in 1986. Since then, the protagonist has helmed several entries in the series bearing his name, while making notable appearances in hit games like “Super Smash Bros.”, “Mario Kart” and “Marvel Vs. Capcom”. 

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17. Scorpion

Made famous by his deadly spear fatality followed by his iconic catchphrase (“Get over here!”), Scorpion has come to represent the “Mortal Kombat” series to gamers worldwide. His iconic yellow ninja outfit and ruthless move set have made him a mainstay in the long-standing series, spanning several games and film entries as well. 

Mortal Kombat 11 Karakter Seçme EkranıNetherRealm Studios on Wikimedia Commons

18. Niko Bellic

As the conflicted and troubled protagonist of Rockstar’s celebrated “Grand Theft Auto IV”, Niko Bellic serves as one of the most fleshed-out and iconic characters in the series to date.  Niko's character development and moral ambiguity provided gamers with a nuanced exploration of heady themes like redemption, betrayal, and the cost of survival; all the while pushing the series and open-world genre forward in a major way. 

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19. Lara (GLaDOS)

Known more for her dry, passive-aggressive delivery, GLaDOS — the AI antagonist from the "Portal" series — has come to be regarded as one of the most inventive and hilarious antagonists in gaming. Her hauntingly melodic voice and manipulative nature serves as the guiding force in Valve’s iconic sci-fi puzzle game, contributing massively to making the series the success that it is. 

Portal 2 (4955806092)Dave Monk on Wikimedia Commons

20. Vault Boy

Sporting his wide grin and perpetual thumbs-up, the Vault Boy has served as the eerily cheerful mascot of the “Fallout” series since its inception. In addition to being the face of the beloved series, the Vault boy has also come to represent the dark humor and unique retro-futuristic style of the game, making him a ubiquitous figure in 21st century gaming. 

Sdcc 2011 - Vault Boy (5973620936)William Tung on Wikimedia Commons