The Most Iconic Video Game Characters of All Time

The Most Iconic Video Game Characters of All Time

It’s no secret that video games are a huge part of mainstream culture and modern entertainment. A big part of this is thanks to the lovable characters that have grown to become very near and dear to us. With vibrant personalities, captivating stories, and unique abilities, these characters have turned our gaming experiences into unforgettable adventures and fond memories. For people who have never touched a video game console to players who live to game, here are five of the most iconic characters that you’d be able to recognize ANYWHERE. Forever reshaping the landscape of the gaming industry, these beloved characters have defined and revolutionized all that we know about the gaming world.

1. Mario - The Jumpman

Wahoo! There is no video game character on this entire planet that is more recognizable and beloved than the famous Mario. First appearing in the arcade game Donkey Kong in 1981 as “Jumpman,” it wasn’t until 1985’s Super Mario Bros. that our favourite mustachioed hero would don the name, Mario. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto for Nintendo, Mario is widely regarded as the face of video gaming.

Over the decades, fans have followed along on his journey across countless worlds. From rescuing Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser multiple times, he’s even taken up new hobbies such as go-karting, tennis, and soccer. With his infectious positivity, hilarious one-liners, and incredibly catchy theme, Mario has and continues to charm gamers worldwide. And with the recent release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) knocking down box offices, it only goes to show you the power that this one character holds.

Mario-1558063 1280Image by Alexa from Pixabay

2. Lara Croft - The Adventurer Archaeologist

As the star of the famous Tomb Raider series, Lara Croft burst onto the scene back in 1996, turning heads with her daring acrobatics, amazing sharpshooting, high intellect, and passionate ambition. Designed by Core Design, she shattered the glass ceiling in the predominantly male video game world, proving to the world that a female character could headline a successful franchise. 

Taking players all around the globe, Lara’s adventures of unearthing ancient treasures and revealing hidden truths had fans loving every second of the game. With a healthy dose of action and intricate puzzle-solving, these popular games catapulted her into fame, now known as one of the most iconic video game characters of all time. Plus, in addition to her countless video game appearances, she’s also been the protagonist of movies and comics, further cementing her status as a gaming icon.

Tomb-Raider-3838414 1280Image by NikSonFik from Pixabay

3. Link - The Hero of Hyrule

Since it’s “dangerous to go alone,” gamers have joined Link, the hero of the Legend of Zelda series, on his journey to rescue Princess Zelda and protect the magical land of Hyrule all the way back since 1986. Although each new game presents a new incarnation of Link, his iconic green-clad, sword-wielding adventurer’s spirit is one that is easily recognized at a moment’s glance. 

This silent protagonist is known for communication through his actions rather than with words, reinforcing the immersive nature of the game and allowing players to embody this courageous character. Fans around the world have fallen in love with Link’s enduring bravery, tenacity, and unyielding commitment to good. After Nintendo’s big hit with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that has been revered as one of Nintendo’s best, their recent release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has only further cemented Link’s position as one of the best characters ever created.

Eugene-Chystiakov-M0Nltsybv Q-UnsplashPhoto by Eugene Chystiakov on Unsplash

4. Pikachu - The Electric Mascot

No list of iconic video game characters would ever be complete without this beloved electric-type Pokémon, Pikachu. Known for his adorable appearance and undying loyalty, Pikachu first made its appearance in Pokémon Red and Green back in 1996. Since then, Pikachu has become the electrifying face of the franchise. If you think of Pokémon, this is likely the character you immediately think of.

Over the years, the Pokémon franchise has grown exponentially with spin-off games, movies, trading cards, and merchandise, but throughout it all, Pikachu remains at the forefront. As the mascot for not just Pokémon but for Nintendo itself, Pikachu symbolizes everything the Pokémon world stands for - joy, wonder, and discovery. As Pikachu’s popularity continues to grow, he’s the perfect icon that captures the spirit of gaming: companionship, adventure, and the simple joy of catching ‘em all.

Toy-3633751 1280Image by Vinson Tan ( 楊 祖 武 ) from Pixabay


5. Sonic - The Speedster

Last but definitely not least, we couldn’t finish this list without including the world’s fastest hedgehog, Sonic. As Sega’s flagship character, he sprinted into the gaming world in 1991, instantly charming gamers and becoming an icon in the gaming world. With his signature blue spikes, attitude to spare, and supersonic speed, Sonic quickly became a household name. 

Created as a direct rival to Mario, his sense of cool, rebellious energy was something that resonated with gamers during the 90s console wars. But over time, Sonic’s character and his expansive universe filled with friends and foes, have grown into a vast franchise. Moving beyond just video games, Sonic has made his way into comics, animated series, and even box-office movies! With such fun gameplay thanks to his power of speed and personality, Sonic continues to build a lasting legacy in the gaming world.

Sonic-7437158 1280Image by Kelsi Buck from Pixabay

Transcending the gaming world, these five iconic video game characters have become so much more than just the heroes we move around on our consoles. Whether they’re a big part of our childhood or a current gaming obsession, they’ve allowed us to create fond memories that we will continue to hold dearly in our hearts. With such lasting legacies and mainstream focus, this is definitely not the last we’ll hear of these characters!