Video games have long been a great way of delivering epic stories with engaging, interesting characters. The medium was previously regarded as only being for young boys, but there has always been a dedicated audience of girls ready to show the world who’s boss. In honor of the gamer girls out there, here are the best female leads in gaming (in no particular order).
Samus Aran (Metroid)
Samus Aran was the first playable female character in video games back in 1986. Over 30 years later, she is still regarded as one of Nintendo‘s biggest and most popular characters. She has been on many dangerous space missions and duked it out in Super Smash Bros since the very beginning.
One of the most exciting E3 announcements of the last decade was when Metroid Prime 4 merely had its logo revealed. Even though the game’s development was recently reset, many fans eagerly await another chance to step into Samus’s power suit.
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Like Samus, Lara Croft is one of the first notable female leads in video games. She made her debut in 1996 and is one key reason the original PlayStation took off and became as popular as it was.
The Croft family are millionaires that are known for their archaeological adventures. Lara’s father Richard was her biggest inspiration for exploring the many tombs of the ancient world, and she has seen some amazing things. She has fought dinosaurs with her dual pistols, confronted the ancient Queen Himiko, and encountered the secret paramilitary group Trinity on multiple occasions. In her early games, she was an over-sexualized character, but even today with her reboot she is still one of the biggest badasses in video games.
Clementine (Telltale’s The Walking Dead)
“Still. Not. Bitten.” Three simple words muttered that would go on to be the motivation for the former Telltale team to finish Clementine’s story in the final season of The Walking Dead. Clem made her debut in 2012 and players got to see her grow up in the undead apocalypse. She has thrived in a world that took so many lives and proven time and time again that she has what it takes to survive in the most dire of circumstances.
Clementine’s story was as heartbreaking as it was depressing. Melissa Hutchison’s iconic portrayal will forever go down as one of the best female roles ever.
Ellie (The Last of Us)
Speaking of heartbreaking, remember Joel lying to Ellie at the end of The Last of Us? Like Clementine, Ellie has also grown up in an apocalyptic wasteland. The Cordyceps fungus wiped out a huge chunk of humanity and Ellie is the only known person to be bitten by an infected person and not die. She technically is infected herself, but the fungus cannot affect her frontal lobe and take over her body for some reason.
In the original game, Ellie was the perfect daughter-like replacement for Joel. Their journey across America saw them grow exceptionally close, and you know they would go to the ends of the Earth for each other. While we do not know exactly when The Last of Us Part II will release, we have a good idea that Ellie will take even more of a central role in the game. We cannot wait to see exactly how much she has grown in the years.
Tracer, Mercy, Widowmaker, D.VA, and Symmetra (Overwatch)
Overwatch is filled with many endearing characters both male and female. This list of ladies made it here above the others because they all have something that calls to female gamers all over the world. Tracer is always looking to do the right thing and is pure of heart. She also gives representation for lesbians. Mercy is against violence, but will do what needs to be done to ensure that most people get out of the battle healthy. Widowmaker has a tragic backstory, but is a cold blooded killer who will always get her best shot. D.VA may seem like a boastful, ego-driven celebrity on the outside, but we have learned she is always pushing herself harder to protect the country she loves. Finally, Symmetra gives representation for people on the spectrum. She hopes that her company can help bring peace and order to the world.
All characters in Overwatch are distinctly different from the rest. While I only listed five here, there are plenty of other women on the roster who prove they are true warriors and come from very distinctive backgrounds.
The Shantae series is one I hadn’t tried until Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse came to Xbox Game Pass last year. If you want to hear more on that, check out my article about it here. Shantae is a half-genie who does her best to protect the small village she calls home. She uses her long purple hair to whip enemies, and can transform into different creatures.
The thing I love most about Shantae are the moments of self-realization in her dialogue. Moments like her stating she would not make a good role model because she shows too much skin with her clothes and is a dancer. She knows what she is. A funny, cute, caring person who wants to do the best possible job as a guardian.