No Right Answer: Strongest Female Video Game Lead Ever

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Dear No Right Answer:

Please learn what a "lead character" is.
Ellie and Elizabeth are both supporting rolls,

Their participation in the plot is either passive or forced upon them.
Ellie is the lead for two chapters of Last of Us.
But for the most part it's Joel and Booker actively driving the plot while Ellie and Elizabeth follow and provide...Support.

Best female character, sure those are worthy choices, but they aren't lead.
Asides from two brief scenes Ellie doesn't drive the plot (Her condition does, but that's passive)

Clementine from Walking Dead is a better "Lead" character because her motivation is the only thing driving Lee to do the plot.

Joel and Booker would be doing this whether or not Ellie and Elizabeth had anything to do about it.

Hey Mikeyfell,

An arguement can be made that these two characters are "Co-Leads" in their respective games. Even though the player only controls Ellie for a portion of the game, and only interacts with Elizabeth instead of playing her, the two ladies seem to transcend the traditional "Support" role.

That's just our opinion though, and when we used the term "Lead" we were referring to the plot, not the gameplay. Yes, Elizabeth is an NPC, and Ellie isn't played very long, but plot-wise they are just as much if not more a driving force in the story than their male companions.

Perhaps a better title would be "Strongest Female Video Game Protagonist", though I'm sure that would still cause debate. It's all in good fun, though, and I hope you enjoyed the video.

I don't think they really transcend supporting rolls so much as they're some of the best examples of them video games can claim.
Calling them Co-leads is an odd grey area I hadn't considered. To me Co-leads are different characters driving different plots in the same narrative. (Sort of like Game of Thrones where almost every character is running their own plot towards an overarching goal)

To me Ellie and Elizabeth are closer to plot devices then lead characters.

Ellie as a device is the reason the plot can happen, Ellie as a person is what's motivating Joel to continue the journey.
Up until the Dam chapter when Joel wants to stop and Ellie's motivation becomes the driving force of the plot. (Then in the final chapter Joel takes back over as lead when Ellie decides to stop)

And in Infinite Elizabeth's switch happens differently where she doesn't take over as lead character so much as her motivations fall in line with Booker's so they're both trying to achieve the same end.
But the plot for Bioshock Infinite is so convoluted the Luteces are probably leading characters in that game considering that they're the reason that Comstock exists, and that Elizabeth has powers and the reason Booker is on Columbia (And maybe the reason he's in debt in the first place? That was never clear to me)
If you don't interrupt her Elizabeth will keep dancing on the beach until the end of time, she's not too concerned with the plot until the very end.

I'd say "Strongest Female Video Game Character" would be an even more appropriate title, because I'm hard pressed to think of stronger video game characters than them (Ellie in particular) male or female.
And I like the video a lot, No Right Answer always makes my Thursday, even when I have to point out little nit picky things like an odd choice of words in the title.

As much as people are whining about the wording of the video on lead (herp a derp a do), I so like the premise of comparing Ellie and Elizabeth.

As much as I liked Bioshock Infinite's setting and Elizabeth, Ellie still takes the cake. Because you actually get to play as her and her growth is a bit more nuanced I suppose (whereas Elizabeth's a bit overshadowed by the PLOT TWISTS), that and she's a child character, which in almost every other instance would have me throwing the character to the undead.

I'm glad to know that these two have redefined the word ever to mean 2013.

So... we're talking about strong characters in terms of character arcs/complexity and what they bring to the story rather than overall capabilities? Kay, makes sense, I was originally expecting Samus to make the list, even with the way Other M mishandled her.

I'm glad to know that these two have redefined the word ever to mean 2013.

Or more like their opinion? Or because their opinion is different it means it's wrong?

Personally, while people do mention Laura croft, the problem I have is that in the game she was in there was too much disconnection from story and gameplay. In the story she is supposed to be new at this stuff but in gameplay has no problem killing hundreds of people without batting an eye.

To me, that takes away from the character.

A similar argument could be made about Bioshock: Infinite.


I'm glad to know that these two have redefined the word ever to mean 2013.

Or more like their opinion? Or because their opinion is different it means it's wrong?

They've redefined their opinion? Or they've redefined ever to mean their opinion? The second one makes more sense in this context but is still useless. You're not doing a very good job defending them.

Either way, their opinions are most likely wrong not because the reasons are bad but because there is good reason to question how many games before this year, or console generation, were considered for "ever".



I'm glad to know that these two have redefined the word ever to mean 2013.

Or more like their opinion? Or because their opinion is different it means it's wrong?

They've redefined their opinion? Or they've redefined ever to mean their opinion? The second one makes more sense in this context but is still useless. You're not doing a very good job defending them.

Either way, their opinions are most likely wrong not because the reasons are bad but because there is good reason to question how many games before this year, or console generation, were considered for "ever".

Considering this is an opinion-based show your arguments holds no water. They aren't saying- "This is the right choice without a doubt and you can't argue."

In fact, the whole show is about arguing their opinions, not about debating which is OBJECTIVELY better characters.

Also it seems you have a problem with the fact that games from previous years were included. Well considering they're both two strong characters who are cut above many sterotypical Female characters and were in great games to boot, most likely resonated with them.

Personally out of all the characters I have played with female characters, I would say that to me, Ellie is one of the best female characters ever. Some get close. It has nothing to do with how old the games are.

Why does everyone keep saying Bioshock Infinite is Elizabeth's Story?

I'd argue it's more Booker's story

Webb Myers:
While we're throwing out names, I'd add Cate Archer from No One Lives Forever.

Elizabeth and Ellie are more on the level of Trip (Enslaved) or Alyx Vance (HL2): tag-along characters that can offer some support (or at least stay out of the way) in combat. There are plenty of RPG squad-mates that are stronger (physically and as characters), but they're usually optional.

I'm hoping there will be a do-over in the near future...

Yesssssssss! Also anyone who said April Ryan or Jade from BG&E should stand proud. I quite liked Tomb Raider too so I'll accept Lara Croft too...but if I have to pick one it is still Cate.

It's not even a debate, Ellie is an infinitely superior character. Purity doesn't make Elizabeth a better character, it actually does the opposite in some respects. She's the princess in the tower, the girl who is too perfect for the world. She almost borders on mary sue, though there's enough characterization that she becomes more interesting later on. Elizabeth felt a little cliche to me, and I felt the game missed the little intimate moments that made Ellie great. She's also a very reactionary character who only responds to the things happening around her. Her future is completely shaped by the people in her life, until perhaps the very end. She's a good character from a good game, but she's certainly not great.

Ellie, on the other hand, is flawed in just the right way. She can be naive, but tough in a way Elizabeth isn't. She's also resourceful, and takes a situation into her own hands before waiting on another character to rescue her. She manages to be vulnerable without being weak, something that is VERY hard to pull off in writing. Elizabeth rarely succeeds at this. Ellie is funny, brave, clever, a little bit pervy, and very very flawed. In other words, she's a human being. More specifically, she's a teenager. It's been said that we like people for their strengths, but we love them for their flaws, and in this Ellie feels like a well rounded and more lively person than Elizabeth ever was.

I would also like to point out that Ellie felt more like a real, fleshed out character. I wanted to protect her as Joel, but I also wanted to protect Joel as her. This is very important, because it solidifies her as an independent character independent of Joel. She's not the sidekick, or "the chick." She's just a normal person, and Naughty Dog never felt the need to trumpet the fact that they had a strong female character. They were confident in their writing, and let the characters speak for themselves. Elizabeth always felt like she was tagging along for the journey, even though she was the center of the story. The game tried too hard to make me feel like I needed to protect this woman. The Last of Us, on the other hand, felt like it was simply a story of two characters looking out for one another, and both of them were needed to keep the other alive.

That said, I hesitate to label anyone "the greatest of all time." Even someone as lively as Ellie.

Yeah, I have to cast my write in vote to Grace Nakimura. If we do ever get another Gabriel Knight game, do you know the reason why Grace will return to Gabriel? Because she feels that's where she's needed. Gabriel Knight is a very flawed character and Grace's instincts know that if Gabriel fights the evils of the world alone, he will only end up dead, and the bad situation he got himself mixed up in will end up much worse. Therefore, she is willing to deal with all his character flaws, simply because she knows she's needed. She is also incredibly smart.

I really like what they did to Ellie and she's never powerless or in need of rescue and that is awesome. I would like to mention Elika from Prince of Persia 2008, although you don't play with her, she helps you the whole game, she rescues you when you fall and she saves the whole country in the end (ignoring the horrible plot twist at the very end).

You literally have to rescue her several times in the game. Did you just mentally block out that part? Why would needing help be a bad thing? She's a goddamned teenager.

I'm glad that ellie won, she had my vote for this episode. however in all honesty my vote would have been for lara from the new tomb raider.

neither of these two are the leads of their game. Bioshock is as much booker's story as it is elizabeth's, possibly even more so because without booker, there is no elizabeth because spoilers. and likewise, the last of us is as much joel's story as it is ellie's, unlike bioshock however, joel and ellie share the game better than booker an elizabeth.

because bioshock was such a failure in my mind i blocked it out, but this episode made me see how similar the two games are, right down to me having a problem with their endings.

elizabeth didn't really have a charater arc as much as a character spontaneous combustion from "i want to go to paris" to "the world is shit and its your fault so die." ellie had a bit more of an arc from not having the tools to survive to gaining them from joel to having to survive without joel for a bit as well as having to care for him. elizabeth had her power, her strength, from the get go; ellie had to gain it. maybe that might have pushed elizabeth ahead if there had been a part where we see if she is able to care for herself.

if only Remember Me hadn't been spread so thin, they could have made nilin so much better.

For all the people saying that Ellie and Elizabeth weren't the leads of their games. Yea in a traditional sense you are right as they aren't the player character (aside from the Ellie chapters). However these games are their stories, not Joel and Booker's. They are the lead character in that regard, which is why they were chosen. Personally I'm having a hard time choosing who has had the most impact. They're both terrific and definitely better than Lara Croft was in the latest Tomb Raider (as good as that game was).

Some other characters who I feel could have been considered:
Kat from Gravity Rush
Clementine from The Walking Dead
Hell definitely not a lead but Veronica from Fallout:NV was a strong female character (and hell she was even gay!)

To be honest, a lot of characters are just female leads, why would they be the strongest? I would differentiate the female leads that were created by the player tho (especially in Bioware games), for the simple reason of the roleplay element. Mass Effect is one of my favorite games, I've played FemShep mostly during my numerous replays, but it's your choices, your personality that the character reflects. Okay, the character endures a lot and saves the galaxy, but I would still put them in a different category for interactivity. I would choose FemShep, your protagonist from DA:O and maybe the Boss from Saints Row IV.

My other favorites have been mentioned, and I'm glad: Jade from Beyond Good and Evil and Zoe from the Longest Journey. Both of them are amazing characters who do extraordinary feats. Best of all, most of the time while playing, I didn't even think about how the main characters of these games are women, it never even crossed my mind to make that difference, they were just people facing a huge challenge, people who made me associate with their stories.

Elizabeth and Ellie were rather strong characters too, but I wouldn't consider them leads. Elizabeth is a sidekick, Ellie is a deutargonist and an awesome focal character. I could see how people would want to put her on the list of the best, but unfortunately she's not a lead, so as sad as I am about it, she can't make my top leads list.

I'm going to buck some trends here and say I liked the debate even with the semantic greyness of what is meant by "lead". Granted... I like the show in general more for it's charm than it's obviously flawless debating.

And in defense of both characters being super recent, even though it was a little disappointing, they are from better written games than a lot of the standard (and boring) choics like Samus/Lara/Femshep. (And picking Femshep is basically cheating anyway)

Me, I would have picked Terra from FF6 most likely. And for totally solid reasoning, not just because she's the main(ish) character from one of my favorite games or anything silly like that.

I don't like the term strong female lead. It implies that we have to make an effort to present female characters as physically and emotionally capable people whereas I would just like to see realistic characters. I know women in games have a history of playing the weak damsel in distress and we want to see a little more agency, but I worry we'll go too far and wind up back at the beginning with women so strong they're unrealistic as characters.

That said:

April Ryan
Heather Mason
Alyx Vance

These are my go to gals in this sort of debate. I would hesitate to use the word strong to describe Heather. Feisty, hot tempered, motivated, loyal, etc. She's pretty much a typical teen. Sure she battles through the horrors of Silent Hill but that's because of her love for her father and an overwhelming desire for revenge. I'd prefer the word strong to mean solid, as in a strong female character is well rounded and presented within the story realistically.

So concludes my bitch about a single word that irks me.

I liked Chell from portal(2). Why? Because it just didn't matter. She's a she. She rocked science. She kicked a super evil she-robot monstrosities butt (also a potato 'lead') that had a lady stashed away in her data banks. You could play her, see her reflection in the portals, and feel powerful. The writing on the walls gave you her story and depth without over-dramatization. Anyone can jump in and have fun.

The character, writing and predominantly female/feminine cast of that game is beautiful.

Best lead female characters EVAR! What are you serious? Come on guys I think you are just kinda going through a phase here because 1) Those are supporting roles 2) They both came out this year, seems like a rash decision and 3) If we are counting lead and secondary characters there is also Clementine, GLaDOS, Fem Shepard, Alyx Vance, Nanako, The Boss, Jill, Samus (from other M of course), and Morgan.

Yeah these are two weak choices. Not that they're bad I suppose but I never saw either as particular much of a leap forward in terms of strengthening womens image in video games. They both did after all have their manditory damsel moment. Fem Shep vs Jill would of been a better choice since they are both actual lead characters (I consider fem shep canon, male sheps voice actor is shit).

Neither of these characters are "lead" characters. Jade from BGE is a lead, obviously Lara Croft, Bayonetta, Ecco the dolphin, Samus, etc... Those are leads. Ellie and Elizabeth are both supporting characters.

Dear No Right Answer:

Please learn what a "lead character" is.
Ellie and Elizabeth are both supporting rolls,

A leading character is one who the story centers around. It doesn't matter if you play them or not. They are still focal points of the story and therefore are by all accounts lead roles. In fact for Bioshock the story is more Elizabeth's then Booker's. Player Character =/= Lead Character. Don't get on the No Right Answer guy's backs when you guys don't understand the definitions yourself.

Their participation in the plot is either passive or forced upon them.

Please explain how either Ellie or Elizabeth are "passive" characters. I remember Elizabeth being an instigator for at least 50% of the story. Heck, Booker is more of a passive character then Elizabeth half the time. He just goes somewhere because he is told to, that is not an active agent, that is a passive agent. Being a "support" in the game mechanics does not mean they are a "support" story characters seeing as how these are used in completely different senses. Also how the character comes to action is in no way a determining factor of them being a lead or not. That would mean that Harry Potter is only a lead character half the time, since most of the time things just happen around him. Being forced into a situation doesn't take away being a lead. Being passive in a situation does not mean they are not a lead. Having the story focused around you means you are a lead. Ellie and Elizabeth fit that description.

I'd pick Bayonetta to be honest. I think there is a lot of depth and nuance which makes her a great character that's far more than just eyecandy and I appreciate Bayonetta's acceptance and control of her own sexuality. There are lots of other things I like about her character, but that's something we don't see in games very often.

This is what I was thinking, but did not expect to see someone post it. Bayonetta is probably the strongest, most confident, empowered female lead I can think of.

Dan is not Dan's real name?
Does that mean Dan isn't the law?

Samus Aran. People didn't know she was even a girl until she took the helmet off. She's that strong. And yet still feminine.

Suck it all the rest.

I would have loved to say Freya Crescent, but she's not a lead in FF9, despite being arguably the strongest female character in the game... well, on the good guy side. Beatrix is pretty damned strong, too, but she's a bitch.


I didnt know antagonists count as leads. Cause to me they dont. (Kerrigan and Kreia are antagonists in the end).

Atleast in HotS Kerrigan isn't an antagonist anymore. One way or the other she's more of a lead character then those mentioned.

I'll go with Jade here. Although I also liked Faith and Chell.

Not to mention she's been a protagonist in all but 1 Starcraft game: Wings of Liberty. She was a protagonist in StarCraft and Brood Wars, featuring heavily in both as such. Kerrigan is the centerpiece of the story and has been since the beginning.

What's really sad is there really are no leads that pass the notability test. Some of you are kidding yourselves on how well known you believe your favorite games of the last half decade to be. A game isn't well known until its must play 15 years out.

Not gotten around to playing Nintendo games since the Super Famicom I can't vouch for Samus, but she really isn't characterized in the classic games, and originated as an endgame reveal where you assume she is a man the whole game. Obviously modeled on Ripley in Alien. One of the aliens in the game is called Ripley in at least some versions of the game.

If you go not characterized, you have Tina (Terra) from FFVI, and Celes, who was stronger, Tina was an amnesiac, but never a damsel. It's sad that that is the best that can be done. Honorable mention to Faris (FFV) but lets be real. There's Rydia (FFIV) too, but how do you count a lead?

If you go characterized, you probably have Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, still a caricature, and Faith from Mirror's Edge.

Lara Croft is interesting, but she's like a robot in latter games, and blowup doll in the only good Tomb Raider minus its last levels (spoiler: the original) not to mention an unrepentant sex object.

I'd like to think I am forgetting something, but yeah that's most likely it. So anyone complaining about feminists spoiling your games. You've been served. Jade and Faith is probably as good as it can be. The world clearly isn't ready for a showdown of this kind.

(final observation: there are basically only two viable options to begin with. Crazy.)

The Playa/Boss/President from Saints Row IV seems like the obvious choice to me.

Never understood the claim Elizabeth is anything akin to strong, independent, badass, or anything similar either.

Question. Has Nintendo basically disqualified itself from these kinds of questions? It seems like being so heavily first party and of late so unconventional has rendered the Nintendo library inaccessible. To a large part exclusive games almost don't want to be part of the culture, until they are basically the equivalent of emulated ROMs 10 or 20 years later. However long it takes.

PS: The fact that all of the ancient classic games are locked up onto Nintendo's virtual console so many years later is also really messed up. Think how much better off everyone would be if Nintendo would go the way of Sega so all of those games could become so much more widely available. I would've bought a Wii just for the virtual console if the thing wasn't region locked. Either way it seems like these publishers ought to be able to hock their old games elsewhere after all of this time.

Without even watching, my vote goes to Maya from Septerra Core. Well-written, well-voiced character with believable emotions and motivations and a strong personality overall.

Holy crap I forgot about this game until now. It was epic, and the characters were really compelling.

What was even crazier was that the whole thing was fully voice acted. I agree, Maya was pretty awesome. Unfortunately, the game never really got the acclaim it deserved.

Found this ( researching Septerra Core. Could be useful if someone can figure out how to show the complete list on one page.

But neither of these are even player characters, they're NPCs in games with male leads. And even then, they're not even that strong as characters - perhaps Ellie has some grounding, but Elizabeth is basically a walking plot device. There's no genuine character here, with Ellie barely qualifying on the basis that she's at least tangentially well-written.

Honestly, the fact there's no Samus, FemShep, Jade, Gianna Sisters, Lara Croft, Faith, Chell... hell, if you're gonna do NPCs, what about Alyx. I would have taken fuckin' Alyx from a ten-year-old game over these selections. Eurgh. EURGH.

Well, if we're talkin' totally awesome badass women, I bring Kreia from KOTOR 2 to the table.

You want someone badass, you can't do much better than Kreia.

^^ This, poor Kreia, so over looked and under appreciated yet the best female character in years if not ever.

Jade from beyond good and evil says hi. Honestly this I found odd, since neither are the player character. I guess she doesn't have to be, but there are a lot of good ones out there.

Samus Aran. People didn't know she was even a girl until she took the helmet off. She's that strong. And yet still feminine.

I don't mean to be pedantic, but if no one knew she was female prior to her removing her helmet, how was she feminine?

As to the topic, I respect that you guys have a definition of strong female character that's different from strong character who happens to be a woman, though given the criteria you set I have a hard time picturing many characters who can qualify.

I have no real problems with your choices, personally. Contemporary doesn't always equal bad, and at least the western video game world has managed to go through it's weird "moe" phase (look at games like Walking Dead, TloU, and Infinite and tell me I'm wrong) without being as creepy about the whole thing as the japanese, so there's that.

Daystar Clarion:
Gotta go with Ellie.

Not only is she a female, but she's also a child.

To have such a well written character that encompasses two traits that usually fall flat on their face, is a godsend.

Although, I'd throw Clementine into that list too.

The character on your avatar is a pretty kickass female lead too btw.

Neither of these characters are "lead" characters. Jade from BGE is a lead, obviously Lara Croft, Bayonetta, Ecco the dolphin, Samus, etc... Those are leads. Ellie and Elizabeth are both supporting characters.

This: both are merely supporting characters, great ones, but just NPC.

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