The Gist - 5 Badass Female Game Protagonists

Jess gives you the rundown on five lovely female protagonists who are tough, resourceful, and charming. Did your favourite make the list?

Discussion

406 comments
Ailurusf
Ailurusf

April Ryan and Jade are some of the best videogame characters ever! Jade was seriously badass, not overly sexualized (though the model was pretty), cared about orphans and political realities, and decided to take on an oppressive regime. Seriously, how much more badass can you get than that? 

As for Shepperd, well, she was badass in the sense of ultra-militaristic glorification of violence, i.e. not my cup of tea. If I was going to go for a kill-everyone-in-sight madness badass, I'd say Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2. Not someone I'd want at my side under any circumstances, but really, really badass (and scary).

GregoryBastards
GregoryBastards

What...no BAYONETTA!!...these chicks wish they were bayonetta....

also Nariko and Lightning are pretty baddass....


honorable mention:  ‎Black★Rock Shooter chick...also every chick ever made on any RPG



jimrhurst
jimrhurst

I definitely liked the new Lara.  Never really played Tomb Raider previously but this one caught my attention and delivers.


I wholeheartedly back the Jennifer Hale-voiced FemShep.  A fantastic character.  One of my favorite "badass" protagonists of any gender in any genre.  I've played as Male Shepard and... its OK.


The other three I didn't play, so I can't comment.  I played Dreamfall though, so I'm sure April is a good choice just based on the depth of character there.  Nice list.

SaintsRowLA
SaintsRowLA

Sing Along

♫ ♫Jess gives us women, women

Lots of pretty women

Men, Men, We can't live without them


Two parts love

One part wild

One part lady

One part child

A whole lot of fire

A little bit of ice

A whole lot of something you can't sacrifice.


Jess gives us women, women

Lots of pretty women

Men! Men! We can't live without them♫♫


---A slightly modified version of 'Women' by Def Leppard


I like Laura Croft. She may be drawn to be a sex object, but Jess is far more attractive and desirable than her.


Zloth2
Zloth2

I think I would drop FemShep and put Cate Archer in there.  The Mass Effect lead is decided by the player so, if you include Shepard, that opens the way up to female leads in almost every Bioware game, Bethesda game, or MMO.

Pewbert
Pewbert

Imagine the fury that would be unleashed if there was a "5 badass MALE protagonists" video.

The feminist community would be outraged. Let's hope such a travesty does not happen.

Girl power.

Aktunka
Aktunka

Can't believe there is no love for Cate Archer from the No One Lives Forever series. Those games were excellent, and she was certainly a badass!

Jah_Glow
Jah_Glow

You picked some good ones. My list is different (my list of games played is radically different), but to each their own. :)

CalamityKait
CalamityKait

In no particular order:


Nariko and Kai (Heavenly Sword):  Since you use Kai on about a quarter of the missions, I include these two as a pair.  Nariko is a noble warrior who sets out to fulfill a prophecy that she knows will cost her life (not a spoiler - she dies in the first scene and the rest of the game is a flashback).  Kai is insane, but also a badass sniper who can headshot enemies from a distance so great they aren't even visible when the arrow is fired.  And it comes full circle when Nariko uses her last moment to heal Kai's insanity.  Anna Torv is fantastic as Nariko.  Oh, and Kai automatically takes cover behind obstacles in combat situations, a gameplay mechanic that was praised as innovative in the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot when Ninja Theory had been using it since 2007.


Female Shepard:  Yes, Jennifer Hale is that much better than Mark Meer who was perectly adequate to Hale's fantastic interpretation of the character.


Lara Croft (2013 reboot and Guardian of Light) for the same reasons Jess gives.


Dr. Rosalind (To the Moon):   Despite being an 8-bit sprite in a 2012 game and speaking only in speech bubbles, Dr. Rosalind manages to impress the player with her compassion and ingenuity, especially with a clever solution to a difficult moral dilemma in the game's final act.


Since I took two from Heavenly Sword, that makes five.

finalkain
finalkain

Kinda surprised theres no love for Clair Redfield and Jill Valentine up in here...

doubl3dge
doubl3dge

Kerrigan. Isn't someone who puts the whole humanity at risk sufficiently badass?

Dawn_Zombie
Dawn_Zombie

1. Samus Aran (Metroid)

2. Jodie Holmes (Beyond Two Souls)

3. Clementine (The Walking Dead)

4. Yuna (Final Fantasy X)

5. Marle (Chrono Trigger)

audiophyle
audiophyle

You just about nailed it, Jess.  Fem Shepard was amazing, and I want to go back and play all the Mass Effects with her now.


Laura Bailey was amazing as the Saints Row boss in 3 and 4.  Soooo badass, and really funny!

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

What if I said Jess is a badass female protagonist?

In games i'd say Samus is pretty badass, the's a fighter and survivor.....

actually though I agree with the list given.....all are good choices....

AtheistPreacher
AtheistPreacher

Go FemShep.  I actually started as the male Shep, then I started again as FemShep, and I did indeed like the game better that way...

Finwey
Finwey

Faith from Mirror's Edge! :)

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

The Boss wasn't a main protagonist, but she is still the strongest female character I've come across in gaming.

crashmer
crashmer

Not exactly the most "badass" I believe they're all in bayonetta lol

thorn3000
thorn3000

agree with all, April and Shepard are top

Saketume
Saketume

Seeing as Jess is so strict about not acknowledging multiple protagonists I'll add another favourite who's most definitely the lead character:

Aya Brea in Parasite Eve.

WeWerePirates
WeWerePirates

There's load you missed, there's... erm... and of course there's... ahh, what's her name again?

Abberon
Abberon

Nariko from Heavenly Sword was my favorite ever.  She was so freaking tough and at the same time didn't need to be slutty or masculine and she just kicked ass.  She's one of the few examples I can think of that managed to be feminine and capable at the same time without showing off giant cleavage or acting/talking like a dude. 

Sword-Demon
Sword-Demon

This list will never be complete without Samus.

Bayonetta, while occasionally cringe-worthy, is pretty badass

The female vault hunters in Borderlands and Lucina from Fire Emblem Awakening are also solid choices.

quickshooterMk2
quickshooterMk2

where is legion commander from dota 2? 

she's the most badass Strength hero in the game 

crognalsen
crognalsen

Kinzie from saints row was fairly amusing even though she wasn't a main character.  I'll have to agree that Morigan in Dragon Age was also pretty amusing.  Jaheira from Baldur's Gate was a tuff character, but I found her annoying.

tushwacker
tushwacker

I think female characters have been done well in games that haven't tried to be realistic. When everyone is doing over-the-top stuff in a game (like Ninja Gaiden for example), then the girl characters seem to fit right in. However, I haven't yet seen a job done well with having a female protagonist acting realistically in a realistic game (the closest thing would be Femshep). Too often both game developers and movie directors get the idea that a woman has to act like a man in order to be considered 'tough'. This misconception often has the female characters come off as cheesy and annoying instead of cool or intimidating.

The reason Vasquez from Aliens was such an awesome character is because: 1) she was actually a strong woman - not a 90 lb super model, 2) she wore attire that made sense - no high heels or tight leather, and 3) she did her job while not trying to oversell how tough she was - she didn't try to beat up the bigger guys in the squad, she didn't do any retarded-looking spin kicks or flying punches like so many other 'action girls' do in movies these days, she simply did her job well and acted like she belonged in the squad.

In games, it would be nice to have a girl show up as a squad-member in a military/swat-style game where she wasn't trying to sound overly cocky or tough, and didn't go out of her way to take on guys in close combat when she clearly is at a size disadvantage, but simply used her training to out-maneuver/out-shoot and either kill or capture her enemy. -> Female characters can be both awesome and realistic if they stick to what makes sense: Bravery, determination, training and skill rather than brute force and physical intimidation. 

Qixote
Qixote

Where the F is Cate Archer???

dapman418
dapman418

I'm really glad Jade got some love here. Though Ellie from The Last of Us might be considered a supporting character, I think she could also be considered a protagonist and therefore a good addition to this list. 

Steveb106
Steveb106

Honorable mentions:

Joanna Dark -- Perfect Dark series

Bastila Shan -- Star Wars: KOTOR

Samus Aran -- Metroid series

Morrigan -- Dragon Age

Yuna -- Final Fantasy X and X-2

bimmyzz
bimmyzz

my favorite one is my wife

Ailurusf
Ailurusf

@GregoryBastards  Bayonetta seemed more of a masturbation aid than a badass character. Not exactly worthy of this list if you ask me.

oedalis
oedalis

@Pewbert Heh, it's funny that you don't seem to realize that it wouldn't be called "5 Badass Male Protagonists". It'd just be called "5 Badass Protagonists". Or maybe it's just sad that you don't get that. Whatever.

Azghouls
Azghouls

@Aktunka


She draws her gun
Like a bow and arrow.
Shoots you a look
You wish you'd never seen.
You try to hide
Your own affections,
But you're caught in the crossfire of love,
And believe me, the girl can aim.

thorn3000
thorn3000

also before i forget, Rynn from Drakan was superb as well and kicked a lot of as*

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@Abberon  On a side-note I hope Sony hired Ninja Theory for a Heavenly Sword 2 for PS4, the first one was flawed but decent enough to spawn a sequel.


Plus what they learned in DmC should be put to good use, even though like many others I wasn't fond of the Devil reboot. Then again I like the developer and the progress they've shown..


Now to your comment. Jill Valentine in the original Resident Evil (& REmake) fit the bill you mentioned with Nariko. If you've only seen her 5+ design that's disappointing -_- she looks more like 90's Lara Croft now...


Furthermore not sure why you're hating on women characters with a little muscle, so long as they retain a feminine form I hardly see why it's a negative. Fighters train, it's kinda a no-brainer. Suppose it depends on the character/ characters you are referring to.


As even though she's a 'built' character, I consider the likes of Chunli to still have that feminine vibe. Opposed to Nina in Tekken who lacks curves in her figural design, namely from T5+. Even though I always found her moveset awesome, she is starting to lack a womans figure other than possible implants... *cough


All in all I don't mind when the Chunlis and D'sC Amazon characters appear, as it shows diversity over the overly common skinny supermodel figures that consist 90% of female characters in gaming..


Because as realism would be concerned who's more likely to boot a grown man into a wall, Nariko or Chunli?


Not hating just stating another side of how you could see things.


& yeah, I wish the whole "slutty" theme in women characters got downgraded. Or at least make them more key to the adventure, over being the love intrest/ damsel.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

@tushwacker  Ayane in the first 3D Ninja Gaiden wasn't what I'd call "over the top" it was the sequels that made her more immaturely presented. Much how Resident Evils Jill started off with some class, and now... *cough


As a character Ayane is pretty strong willed and puts up a stellar fight, not to mention proves she's the brains behind the entire game and what Ryu should do. I never cared for Rachel, purely an over-the-top damsel in distress, much like the look-alike of her in NG2. What's her name xD?


However design can be overlooked I find if the female character shows she's more that just eye candy, or more accurately put 'designed for a perverse market. Also I must say I agree, some women should be more than a ten year old girl out punching a grown man, but what you need to understand is what about tougher framed women? 


Chun Li & the Amazon in Dragon's Crown are what I'd call bulker framed women, and to me that's ok for them to out-punch a guy. Even Lara is a case of showing you it's not always about just what they look like. But rather what they do throughout their journey. After afew hours you realise these three are about kicking the living 'fudge' which makes strong role models in an essence. 


So in a way it's not always about realism, rather giving a female gamer a character to respect, much like Solid Snake and Dante are respectable/ strong male characters.


& back to Ayane. Most her attacks are what you expect from a female ninja in my view (kunai) but see your point, on cute little girl bricking grown men bare-handed.


In all. it's because of that 'damsel in distres's issue. Women who play games do not want to play a game feeling it's completely sexist. I know afew who can look past design, not characteristics. What I'm getting at it's a strong issue in the gaming community.

nukedysfunk
nukedysfunk

@Steveb106  Bastila, Morrigan, and Yuna are questionable protagonists. Typically the protagonist in a story is "The Lead" or the main/central character that the viewer follows. In the aforementioned character's games, the protagonist would respectively be Revan, The Grey Warden, and Tidus.

lorider25
lorider25

@bimmyzz  Your wife is a fictional video game character?


Makes sense.