10 Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters 1

There are hundreds of video games featuring heroic and multidimensional male leads. Meanwhile, video game female characters are usually demoted to mere supporting roles. Some are even used as little more than lame half-naked specimens for jiggly game physics (hello, Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball!). Thankfully, there are also quite a few video games which showcase powerhouse female protagonists who are just as capable as their male counterparts (if not more so). Here’s our list of 10 Video Game Female Protagonists who know how to kick major ass… with their clothes on!

Selection Criteria for Our List:

  • Female protagonist must be the main playable character.
  • No ridiculous ‘barely there’ attires, whatever the weak chauvinistic explanation. (Sorry, Quiet!)
  • Leads can be considered ‘sexy’ without being ‘sexualized’. There’s an important difference.
  • Selections are in no particular order.


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1 | Faith Connors – Mirror’s Edge

Faith’s a female protagonist who’s as edgy as they come. After her mother’s death during a city riot, Faith joins the rebellion force against the authoritarian regime controlling the City of Glass. She works as an illegal courier, known as a Runner, and lives outside the city’s heavy laws and surveillance. She’s got some mad parkour skills too, leaping from rooftop to rooftop and scaling buildings with nimble ease. As a truly inspiring female lead, Faith is more than willing to put her own life at risk to protect the powerless.

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Faith Connors 2

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2 | Lara Croft  – Tomb Raider Reboots 

We’ve been following Laura Croft in her pursuit of priceless treasures and lost civilizations since the 90s. Thankfully, her latest aesthetic reboots have her looking less like a busty blow-up doll and more like a capable explorer. This leading lady isn’t just an Indiana Jones knock-off; she’s a full-on hardened survivor who fills her own adventuring shoes! Whether scaling ruins or blasting holes in baddies four times her size, Lara manages to hold her own as one of the toughest video game female protagonists ever to grace our gaming screens. Gotta love that British accent too! (Also check out our blogging friend’s interesting post on Lara Croft)

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Lara Craft 3

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3 | Clementine – The Walking Dead Season 2

Kick-ass video game female protagonists come in all sizes. As the leading star of The Walking Dead Season 2, now eleven-year-old Clementine is a far more capable survivalist than most of the adults around her. Many even turn to her for leadership. Despite the tragic events of her life, Clementine never loses her will to protect those she loves. Players get to see her grow up from a young, scared girl to a cunning leader capable of making major game-changing decisions. Zombies (and humans) beware!

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Clementine 4

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4 | Aveline de Grandpre – Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation

Aveline de Grandpre is as bad-ass as they come when it comes to strong video game female protagonists. As the first woman to play the starring role in an Assassin’s Creed game, Aveline possesses many useful skills which make her far more well-rounded than most of her male predecessors. She’s a master of disguises, a crafty inciter of riots, and (of course) a deadly assassin capable of taking down her targets in one fell swoop. Brimming with dignified femininity, Aveline has been hailed by many as one of the wittiest, most charming, and also intimidating video game female protagonists ever created.

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Aveline de Grandpre 4

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5 | Max Caulfield – Life is Strange

Max Caulfield is a female protagonist who’s the epitome of loyalty, love, and friendship. After saving her childhood friend Chloe Price from being killed, Max soon discovers she has the amazing ability to rewind and even stop time. Throughout five memorable episodic adventures, gamers will get to see Max mature from a shy, introverted photographer geek to a brave heroine willing to shift the sands of time to save those she loves. No small task for this Amazing Spider-Max! But, hey, she’s always ready for the mosh pit, shaka brah!– so bring it! Max is proof that you don’t need to ‘act like a man’ to kick total ass.

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Max Caulfield 6

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6 | Jade – Beyond Good & Evil

Jade is often hailed as one of the sassiest, toughest, and most intelligent video game female protagonists of all-time. She spent most of her childhood as an orphan, eventually being adopted by Pey. As a hardworking photo-journalist equipped with street smarts and fighting skills, Jade is on a mission to uncover the deep secrets of a tyrannical government. She’s driven by a strong sense of adventure and justice, even daring to take on menacing aliens in search of the ultimate truth of her mysterious origins. This is one lady who commands our utmost respect!.

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Jade 7

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7 | Samus Aran – Metroid Series

Samus is one of the earliest female protagonists in video game history. After her parents were killed by space pirates, Samus was taken in by the Chozo race and trained to be a kick-ass space warrior. She soon matures to become one of the most feared fighters in the galaxy for her mad skills, high-tech heavy armor, and serious weaponry. Samus spends much of her time hunting down space pirates and destroying dangerous life forms such as Metroids who are able to drain life energy and can be used as dangerous biological weapons. When it comes to heroic video game female protagonists, few can compare to Samus.

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Samus Aran 8

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8 | Amanda Ripley – Alien: Isolation

Amanda doesn’t need heavy weaponry to be tough; she’s got boundless intelligence and a keen engineering mind beyond measure. As the daughter of Ellen Ripley (from the movie Alien), Amanda is in search for the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. This leads her to Sevastopol, a decommissioned trading space station, where she soon finds herself hunted by a ruthless Alien, human enemies, and crazy androids. Amanda is a quick-thinking survivalist able to use loose pieces of scrap metal to craft weapons and tools at will. Genius! With brains like that, it’s no wonder she’s a shoo-in pick for kick-ass video game female protagonists!

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Amanda Ripley 9

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9 | Cate Archer – No One Lives Forever Series

Cate Archer is the lead globe-trotting superspy of the now sadly defunct No One Lives Forever franchise. Working for U.N.I.T.Y, Cate’s a splendid mix-up of sarcastic humor, off-the-chart intelligence, and patriotic bravery. Best of all, her ‘take no nonsense’ attitude towards her pompously sexist male colleagues is a breath of fresh air, even by today’s standards. When it comes to truly pioneering video game female protagonists, Cate’s name will no doubt live on forever.

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10 | Nilin – Remember Me

Video game female protagonists don’t get much tougher than Nilin. She’s a prodigious amnesiac freedom fighter hired by a mysterious man named Edge to take down Memorize, the mega-corporation which created the memory-altering tech known as Sensen. A strong and independent woman, Nilin possesses the powerful ability to steal and remix the memories of sensen users. She’s also an expert melee fighter with plenty of hand-to-hand combos that’d make even Lara envious. A true dual mind-body force to be reckoned with!

Kick-Ass Video Game Female Protagonists - Video Game Female Characters Nilin 10

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Honorable Mentions:

April Ryan – The Longest Journey
FemShep – Mass Effect trilogy
Joanna Dark – Perfect Dark series
Chell – Portal series
Lightning – Final Fantasy XIII
Jill Valentine – Resident Evil series

 

Did we forget any amazing video game female protagonists? Feel free to share your thoughts below!

Kathryn Haro is an NYC based freelance writer and editor. She's been a gamer her entire life and loves RPGs, Horror, and Indie titles. When she's not playing video games, Kathryn writes short stories, talks to her cat, Cheeto, and takes long naps.

18 Comments

  1. sekiria21@hotmail.com'

    Wow…way to leave out Chun-Li, one of the pioneers.

    Reply
    • Chun-Li is awesome! 🙂 But she isn’t a MAIN playable character in a game – just one of a few. 🙂

      Reply
  2. abbybutterfly13@gmail.com'

    Where’s Chell from the Portal games? She battled and tested her way through Aperture Laboratories twice, took down GLaDOS twice, and almost got sucked into space.

    Reply
    • Good point! We’ll include her in the Honorable Mentions list, only because she doesn’t really talk in either of the Portal games. But still, she’s an awesome female protagonist (and GlaDOS a great antagonist!)

      Reply
  3. mrsbellafanpage@gmail.com'

    Ellie from The Last of Us!
    Even though she’s only 14 she proofs a honorable heroine behavior and surving skills!

    Reply
    • mrsbellafanpage@gmail.com'

      *surviving sorry

      Reply
    • Thanks for the suggestion! Ellie’s awesome! We didn’t include her here though as we decided only to stick with playable main characters. In terms of general female characters, though, Ellie is way up there, along with Alyx!

      Reply
    • 20wl51z738@mail.com'

      Most help articles on the web are inaccurate or inencerhot. Not this!

      Reply
  4. abc123@gmail.com'

    Lightning from the first FFXIII. Can’t believe you didn’t put this on. And you can’t count Lightning Returns, but the costumes were hot. As a xir, I’m absolutely in love with them. 🙂

    Reply
    • Good call! We added her into our Honorable mentions. Thank you for the suggestion! 🙂

      Reply
  5. justskylarkin@gmail.com'

    Erica Reed definitely needs a mention here! She is definitely a “kick ass” female protag! Love her series!

    Reply
  6. Wolvesrock@art.net'

    Amaterasu from Okami is my all time favorite main female protagonist in video games.

    Reply
  7. Greenleaf_05@msn.com'

    Jill Valentine from Resident Evil!

    Reply
    • Good call James! We’ve added her. Thank you for the suggestion!

      Reply
  8. bennertmrrw23@gmail.com'

    Thanks for this list! While I’m good playing a male protagonist, it gets old playing only male protagonists who don’t usually vary much from one another. Worse is playing a female protagonist whose main personality traits are ‘hot’ and ‘female’ (and if you notice, neither of those is an actual personality trait, despite what developers seem to think). It’s hard to find a good game with a good lead who isn’t a straight/white/male/cis person. That gets boring even for someone who IS straight/white/male/cis (like myself).

    I’m all for having characters and protagonists come from a wider range of cultural, racial, and gender backgrounds. The more the merrier.

    Reply
    • You’re spot on! For the longest time female protagonists were cast as ‘hot’ or ‘attractive’ without many other discernible PERSONALITY traits. Thankfully these days things are a bit better. 🙂 Have you tried any of these games? Our personal favorite is Faith, Max, and Cate Archer (too bad the franchise is now stuck in limbo!). Thanks for expressing yourself!

      Reply

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