You are here

Players' Poll: The Most Iconic Video Game Character of All Time

Warning message

Submissions for this form are closed.

Event: BAFTA Games AwardsDate: Thursday 11 April 2024Venue: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd., London, U.K.  Host: TBC-Area: Digital Assets & CampaignBAFTA

Who is the most iconic video game character of all time?

Video games have produced some of the most memorable characters of any medium. So, in celebration of the 20th BAFTA Games Awards on Thursday 11 April 2024, we asked for the public's help to settle the question, and over 4,000 players from around the world engaged with the official BAFTA poll.

The Top 20 Most Iconic Video Game Characters of All Time, ranked in order of votes received:

1. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) 

Taking the number one spot is the generation-spanning heroine Lara Croft, star of the Tomb Raider franchise. Lara Croft first appeared in Tomb Raider for the Sega Saturn in 1996, nearly three decades ago, and has since been remastered and evolved several times for television, film, video games and even her own live immersive experience in London, England. Lara Croft has appeared in over 15 games, three films, multiple novelisations and comic book adaptations, and an upcoming Netflix animated series. This year alone, Tomb Raider I–III Remastered was released across multiple platforms and the highly anticipated Netflix TV show Tomb Raider: The Legend of Lara Croft is scheduled for release later in the year. Shelley Blond, the original voice of Lara Croft, will also present an award at the 20th BAFTA Games Awards on Thursday 11 April, in the official ceremony hosted at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

2. Mario (Super Mario) 

Created by the legendary Japanese game designer and recipient of BAFTA’s prestigious Fellowship, Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario has been the face of Nintendo and a highly recognisable character in the wider world of video games. One of the most senior characters on this list, Mario was created in 1981 not as the star of his own series, but as Jumpman, a player character in the first instalment in the Donkey Kong series. From humble beginnings, Mario has gone on to featured in over 200 video games, two films, and numerous other multimedia adaptations, including this year’s BAFTA-nominated game, Super Mario Bros. Wonder.  

3 Agent 47 (Hitman) 

A genetically-enhanced clone with a penchant for murder, Agent 47 made his video game debut in 2000’s Hitman: Codename 47. Since then, he’s killed his way across screens both big and small, appearing in over ten games, two novelisations, and two live-action film adaptations. Conceived by Danish video game developer IO Interactive in 1998, Agent 47 has become an icon in the games industry, captivating gamers worldwide. The genetically engineered assassin has since appeared in eight mainline games, two spin-offs, two books, one comic series and two films.

4. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic) 

Sonic the Hedgehog sprinted his way into the hearts and minds of fans worldwide in 1991 as the star of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. He has appeared in over 100 video games as both a main character and supporting cast, as well as starring in several TV shows and two films, with a third slated for release in late 2024. 

5. Sackboy (LittleBigPlanet) 

One of the most customisable characters on this list, Sackboy made his video game debut in 2008 as the star of Sony’s LittleBigPlanet to instant critical acclaim. He’s since starred in all six LittleBigPlanet mainline games, as well as making an appearance in numerous other game franchises as everything from a playable character to an adorable easter egg. 

6. Pac-Man (Pac-Man) 

This little yellow hockey puck has appeared in over 50 games and has made appearances in innumerable other trans-media properties.  

7. Link (Legend of Zelda) 

The silent protagonist of the Legend of Zelda franchise, Link has appeared in 20 games in the series, as well as starring in his own animated series and multiple comic book and manga adaptations. 

8. Master Chief (HALO) 

Full name Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, this Spartan super-soldier appears in six games in the HALO franchise. He appears as the main character in three of the 19 HALO novels, as well as in the 2012 film Halo 4: Forward Until Dawn and the 2022 HALO television series. 

9. Kratos (God of War) 

From murder-hungry Spartan warrior to protective parent, Kratos has appeared in eight games in the God of War franchise. He’s also made appearances in two comic series, three novels, and in several games outside the God of War franchise. 

10. Shadowheart (Baldur’s Gate 3)

One of the youngest characters on this list in terms of release date, Shadowheart charmed her way into the hearts of players worldwide with the release of 2023’s Baldur’s Gate 3. 

11. Arthur Morgan (Red Dead Redemption 2) 

The protagonist of 2018’s Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur Morgan is one of the few characters on this list to only appear in a single game. 

12. Pikachu (Pokémon) 

The only Pokémon to appear on this list, Pikachu has appeared in over 100 properties across screens both big and small, as well as making appearances in multiple comic books and manga. 

13. Steve (Minecraft) 

The iconic player character from 2011’s Minecraft (the best-selling video game of all time as of 2024), Steve has also made appearances in four other games including the Minecraft spinoff Minecraft Dungeons.  

14. Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid) 

Debuting in 1987’s Metal Gear, Solid Snake (real name David) is a stealthy super-spy who’s appeared in over ten games in the Metal Gear franchise, as well as in multiple novelisations of the game series. 

15. Crash Bandicoot (Crash Bandicoot) 

Introduced to the world in 1996’s Crash Bandicoot, this genetically enhanced marsupial has appeared in 20+ video games throughout his lifespan. 

16. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII)

A mercenary and man of few words, Cloud Strife has made 30+ appearances in both video games and wider media properties since his video game debut as the protagonist of 1997’s Final Fantasy VII. 

17. Astarion (Baldur’s Gate 3) 

Much like his fellow party member Shadowheart, Astarion’s rogueish charms have made him a fan favourite since his appearance in 2023’s Baldur’s Gate 3

18. Kazuma Kiryu (Yakuza) 

A gruff former Yakuza mobster, Kazuma Kiryu has appeared in ten games in the Yakuza/Like a Dragon franchise, as well as starring in multiple film adaptations and a stage play of the franchise. 

19. Ellie Williams (The Last of Us) 

Best-known as the star of 2013’s The Last of Us, Ellie Williams actually did not make her first appearance in the game. The world’s first introduction to the bad-mouthed teenager was in The Last of Us: American Dreams, a four-issue comic book series that served as a prequel to the game. She’s since starred in sequels and DLC for the The Last of Us franchise, as well as the 2023 TV adaptation of the game. 

20. Nathan Drake (Uncharted) 

The gentleman explorer with a penchant for violence, Nathan Drake stars in six games in the Uncharted franchise, as well as multiple comic book series and a live-action film adaptation. 

Thank you to all the players who took part in our poll.

Join us for the 20th BAFTA Games Awards on Thursday 11 April, 2024, at 19.00 BST / 14.00 ET / 11.00 PT live on YouTube, Twitch and X.