Badasses come in all shapes and sizes. This isn't a term that's exclusive to individuals with combat prowess or attitude. There are a lot of variables that can make someone a formidable warrior. Characters that have ascended to a higher tier of badassery have a multitude of talents. It isn't just brawn. It's about courageous spirit, intelligence, reflexes, outlook, and so much more.
I'm sure you can name a few well-known characters right off the bat. Famous icons like Master Chief, Kratos, and Nathan Drake are all fantastic in their own right, but this list is reserved especially for the lethal ladies of gaming. There are tons of deadly divas scattered throughout interactive entertainment.
The women featured on this list are as badass as they come. They include ferocious fighters, resourceful explorers, pint-sized powerhouses, and even a mythological goddess. To us, these ladies stand out from the crowd as some of the coolest and most heroic characters ever created.
So without further ado, here are 20 Video Game Ladies Who Are Badass AF.
Did your favorites make the list? Let us know!
20 Rubi Malone (WET)
WET was met with mixed reviews when it released back in 2009. A lot of critics praised the title for its Tarantino-style theatrics and outrageous combat mechanics. Unfortunately, these redeeming qualities were marred by poor visuals. The game looked dated, even by the standards of that gaming era. Yet, even with some less-than-stellar design errors, WET received generally positive scores.
This is all thanks to Rubi Malone, the title's entertaining female protagonist. Rubi is classified as a "problem solver." She's one part mercenary, one part bounty hunter, and to parts total badass. Her acrobatic fighting style makes her a nightmare for opponents, and her cold and calculating attitude keeps her level-headed in most situations. Rubi Malone is a great starting point for this list.
19 Faith Connors (Mirror's Edge)
Faith Connors is proof that you don't have to be a highly skilled fighter to be a total badass. Serving as the main protagonist of Mirror's Edge, Faith spends the majority of her time running, flipping, and sliding, through danger. Her backstory is filled with hardships. She lost her mother at a young age and set off on her own (she was 16) after her father succumbed to alcoholism.
Since then, Faith has been living on the streets. Similar to DC's Catwoman, she began committing petty thefts to survive. This put her in contact with Mercury, who transformed her into an illegal underground courier (Runner). At her core, Faith is a loving and caring person who would do anything to protect her sister, Kate. Most people panic and flee from danger, but Faith Connors always runs headfirst through it.
18 Princess Zelda (The Legend Of Zelda)
Let's be honest, as much as we try not to, society does have a nasty habit of creating and perpetuating stereotypes. One of the biggest video game tropes is the classic "damsel in distress" complex. Because of this, we are conditioned to imagine someone helpless and kidnapped whenever we hear the word "princess."
This is certainly not the case with Princess Zelda. Her Royal Hylian heritage does not define who she is as an individual. Gifted with the Triforce of Wisdom, Princess Zelda is supremely intelligent, resourceful, and strong. Throughout most of the Legend of Zelda series, we play as Link, who is usually tasked by Princess Zelda to thwart evil forces and restore peace to Hyrule. Link is the "Hero," but Zelda is always behind the scenes, using her badass array of skills and knowledge to ensure that Link is successful in each quest. We also "heard" from Sheik that she's pretty skilled in combat.
17 Samus Aran (Metroid)
I can't do it! I've been trying so hard to move Samus a bit further down the list, but since this isn't an "ordered list" I'm caving and placing her here. Samus Aran is a quintessential badass. She's THE badass to most gamers. When you ask the general gaming community to list strong female characters, Samus' name will almost always come up.
Samus Aran battles the evil forces of the universe while clad in a massive iron suit that's equipped with an arsenal of arm cannon-based weaponry. That sentence just screams ass-kicker. She's not all brawn either. Samus has the skills to pay the bills. She's smart, fast, and strong. One could argue that her suit does a lot of the heavy lifting, but as we've seen with Zero Suit Samus in Super Smash Bros series, that's simply not the case.
16 Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark)
Anyone who tells you that perfectionism is a bad thing has never met Joanna Dark. Her code name, "Perfect Dark," came from her flawless training scores, which she gained as an operative for the Carrington Institute. Her exemplary skill set casts her as a top field agent, capable of handling even the most difficult of tasks.
Perfect Dark came out three years after GoldenEye 007. I make this comparison because Joanna Dark makes James Bond look like a Sunday School teacher. Okay, maybe it isn't that stark a difference, but Joanna Dark's mission is much more elaborate than any secret agent's. She's busy protecting Earth from an alien threat, while simultaneously gaining interstellar allies. We can leave the global stuff to heroes like Bond, Joanna Dark is busy keeping the universe safe.
15 Chun-Li (Street Fighter)
If you've ever played Street Fighter you'll immediately recognize this spunky mistress of Martial Arts. Chun-Li oozes elegance, and while she may appear prim and proper, she possesses the heart of a warrior. As an Interpol Officer, Chun-Li spends most of her time capturing criminals and saving lives. She's intelligent and strong-willed enough to handle most situations, but she excels at hand-to-hand combat.
Her Chinese fighting style gives her a massive advantage in close-quarters conflict, and her signature move, Hyakuretsukyaku, unleashes a flurry of fast-paced kicks. Those powerful legs and well-defined musculature make Chun-Li a nightmare for any opponent. She's a stoic crime fighter, with a law-abiding attitude. Criminals beware, this is one cop you never want to cross.
14 Amaterasu (Okami)
This list of legendary ladies isn't exclusive to humans. Okami introduced us to a female protagonist that was a little furrier than the average lead. Amaterasu, as in Goddess Amaterasu (from Japanese Mythology), took the form of a white wolf in Clover Studio's elegant action-adventure game. A wolf on its own is frightening enough, but Amaterasu has an imposing repertoire that helps separate her from the rest of the pack.
Wolves can bite, but how many of them can wield a celestial paint brush, or a glaive? Amaterasu is one of the most talented pups on the planet, using her four-legged strength and lightning fast reflexes to defeat her enemies. If she's this badass as a canine, just imagine what she could do with opposable thumbs.
13 The Boss (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
The Metal Gear Solid universe is filled with amazing female characters (like Quiet and Meryl for example). For us, one will always stand out among the rest. The Boss, from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, was a powerful character worthy of her own spinoff game. She was a badass on the battlefield, displaying impressive fighting skills and weapon proficiency, but her true defining feature was her overall attitude towards the world.
The Boss believed that the world needed to be united and that the ends post-World War II had tossed the globe into a constant state of duress. Even after her death (which she tragically begged for), The Boss' ideals lived on. The new boss, Naked Snake, helped form the Patriots in response to her unified world view. She did so much in life, and so much more in death.
12 Rayne (BloodRayne)
It's an unfortunate truth in the modern age, but sex sells. This was the main vessel for the creation of Rayne, according to Majesco manager Liz Buckley. Their work with focus groups revealed that younger men paid more attention to a female lead character, which pushed the title's developer to add a sense of "lethal eroticism" to Rayne's concept. The finished product birthed a character that wore tight-fitting leather clothing and boasted a sensual attitude.
Yet underneath the initial sex appeal lied an engrossing and entertaining character, built from years of adolescent strife and loss. Rayne was on a mission, to kill her vampire father and avenge her human mother. The Dhampir was always meant to turn heads visually, but many players fell in love with her headstrong attitude and badass fighting style.
11 Tracer (Overwatch)
"Cheers, love! The cavalry's here!" I apologize, but that's a required opening line every time we talk about Tracer. Most people know this spunky time-travelling tomboy as the poster child for Blizzard Entertainment's popular shooter, Overwatch. Unfortunately, some don't realize how amazing Tracer is from a lore standpoint since a lot of the title's stories are buried in media outside of the game.
Lena Oxton is a fearless pilot, and was handpicked to fly Overwatch's experimental teleporting aircraft, "The Slipstream." Disaster struck and Tracer became infected with something called chronal disassociation. Thanks to Winston, she's able to anchor herself in the present, while gaining the ability to "alter her own time." Tracer may look mouselike and unintimidating, but her impressive speed and time-leaping abilities give her the tools necessary to conquer any foe.
10 Nariko (Heavenly Sword)
There are many different qualities that can make someone a badass. Impressive combat skills, individuality, and courage, are some of the common elements that come to mind. The next lady on this list is an incredibly skilled fighter (the best in her clan) but her true mark of awesomeness lies in her perseverance.
Nariko was born during the Year of the Fire-horse when a prophecy spoke about a male child that would lead her clan to peace and prosperity. Instead, she was born, and her mother passed away shortly after. This led those around her to believe that Nariko was a bastion of doom and that the gods had forsaken them. She lived most of her life with feelings of scorn and neglect.
In a powerful display of badassery, Nariko trained to become the best swordsman in her clan, protecting her people from a benevolent king. In a time where prophecies and godly promises reigned supreme, Nariko broke the mold.
9 Anya Stroud (Gears Of War 3)
Anya Stroud grew up in a terrible world. The Gears of War universe has always been riddled with war and tragedy. A child should never have to experience that hardship, but Anya came out stronger as a result. She grew up with only her mother present and eventually joined the Coalition of Ordered Governments. Her original career was a CIC controller, although her mother served on the frontlines as a Gear soldier.
Things changed for Anya when she met Marcus Fenix, who she fell deeply in love with. Her strong-willed nature, impressive fighting skills, and positive outlook allowed her to take place next to Marcus on the frontlines. Anya was strong enough to survive all of the Locus-based conflicts, and was able to have the family she wanted after the war. Even in times of horrid strife, she always looked towards the future.
8 Cereza (Bayonetta)
At first glance, the world of Bayonetta seems pretty strange. The storyline is engrossing, featuring an epic battle between dark and light, for control of two mysterious artifacts that have the ability to shape the universe. The release was visually stunning and features a cast of colorful characters. The main protagonist, Bayonetta (Cereza) seems to carry visual sensuality, similar to Rayne from BloodRayne.
Beyond the visuals, however, lies a beautifully crafted character with a unique past, coquettish attitude, courageous spirit, and badass combat skills. Cereza is an Umbra Witch, allowing her to use Wicked Weaves and Bullet Arts. When battling enemies, Cereza can summon a demonic entity, using her hair as a vessel. She can also fire foot-mounted guns, allowing her to string together insane acrobatic combos. Cereza has become such a prominent part of the gaming community that she was featured in the Super Smash Bros. series.
7 Sarah Kerrigan (StarCraft)
You could fill a book with the lore surrounding Sarah Kerrigan. She's one of the most prominent parts of the StarCraft storyline, spanning over multiple games. She's heralded as one of the most badass ladies in all of gaming history, especially during her "Queen of Blades" story arc. It wasn't without sacrifice though; even with her immense power, Sarah has lived a rather depressing existence.
As a child, she caused the death of her mother (and brain damage of her father) thanks to her psionic powers. From there, she was taken in by the Terran military and placed into the Ghost program. They eventually broke her and turned her into a merciless killing machine. Over the course of two games, Sarah was captured by the Zerg, transformed into the Queen of Blades, and then de-infested. She stands as one of the most feared names in gaming.
6 Poppy (League Of Legends)
This was a tough one because there are a ton of strong female leads in the League of Legends universe. For me, Poppy stands out above the rest. She's undeniable proof that big things come in small packages, and that size means nothing when you have an abundance of tenacity and skill.
Poppy isn't like other Yordles. She's never been that fascinated with magic or engineering, opting out for simpler things like melee weapons and heavy armors. She becomes an apprentice to the human Orlon, who teaches her combat. On his deathbed, Orlon passes his mighty battle hammer to the small Yordle, explaining that it belongs in the hands of a mighty hero. Poppy embarks on a quest to find this hero, unaware that she wields the hammer with an immense amount of alacrity and poise.
5 Aveline De Grandpré (Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation)
A lot of badasses are born from hardship. Aveline de Grandpré is a prime example of this. Although she was born in the mid-1700's as a mixed-race child, she didn't immediately endure any racial tensions. Her father was a prominent businessman and bought freedom for her and her mother. It was only after some disconcerting events surrounding her father's marriage to another and the disappearance of her mother, that Aveline began to see the darker side of New Orleans.
Events lead her to an order of assassins, and Aveline dedicated her life to freeing slaves and wiping out city-wide corruption. Thanks to her tenacious attitude and impressive assassination skills, she was able to drive the Templar influence completely out of New Orleans.
4 Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII)
I'm a Final Fantasy fanatic and I'm well aware of all the amazing and interesting female characters within the franchise. I hold a special place in my heart for Aerith, Fang, and Terra. But in terms of the most formidable Final Fantasy heroine, it's an easy choice. Lightning is a cut above the rest when it comes to badassery.
The loss of her parents at a young age forced Claire Farron to take responsibility of her sister Serah when she was only 15 years old. She sports a cold attitude towards most but has a big heart when it comes to her sister. The events of Final Fantasy XIII see Lightning embark on a journey to save Serah, which then explodes into a full-blown mission to protect her home. Lightning's quick reflexes, honed combat skills, and refusal to quit make her one of the "baddest" ladies to ever grace the Final Fantasy universe.
3 Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
This list simply wouldn't be complete without an appearance from the Tomb Raider herself. The gaming world was first introduced to Lara Croft back in 1996 when the original Tomb Raider released on PlayStation. Her first iteration was a lithe explorer with a love for dual wielding handguns. Through the years, Lara has seen a few visual character changes. Her most recent transformation, in Tomb Raider (2013), has her looking and acting more badass than ever.
Much of the game is spent surviving the elements, avoiding enemy gunfire, and exploring decrepit ruins. Throughout her journey, Lara is thrown headfirst into obstacles. She almost falls to her demise on numerous occasions, has a run-in with dastardly foes, and has her body beaten and bruised. No matter how much pain and strife she faces, Lara always gets back up.
2 Clementine (Telltale's The Walking Dead)
Clementine proves that age isn't a factor. When we first meet this spunky youngster, she's only eight years old. Clementine finds herself growing up in an era that's as kid-unfriendly as it gets. Walkers are everywhere, people are constantly at each other's throats, and supplies are scarce. To make matters worse, Clem finds herself alone (her parents zombified) and is forced to rely on Lee for protection.
Over the course of the next few games, we watch Clementine grow up. In the latest Walking Dead installment, she's 13, and more badass than ever. The courageous spitfire was always smart as a whip and is often the voice of reason during tense situations. If you ever found yourself caught in a zombie apocalypse, you'd want someone like Clem by your side.
1 Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
I remember the first time I ever loaded up Resident Evil. The original title had those horrifying creaking doors and enough jump scares to make me a paranoid wreck for a few weeks. I can remember slowly exploring each part of the mansion and I vividly recall some of the monsters I faced. My greatest memory, though, was playing as Jill Valentine.
Jill is a S.T.A.R.S. member. To me, she's THE S.T.A.R.S. member. Most people regard Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy as the cream of the Resident Evil crop, but I was always enamored with Jill's badass attitude and perseverance. I spent a lot of time alone in that mansion, but I always felt like I could take on any foe that came my way as Jill. She's one of my greatest character memories from one of my favorite video game franchises. There's no denying, Jill Valentine deserves a spot on this list.