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Sweet Tooth
(Twisted Metal)
Twisted Metal's flagship villain, a psychotic clown on the lam from a Los Angeles mental institution, terrorized the streets behind the wheel of a stolen ice cream truck. His weapon of choice? A napalm strawberry cone.
Jill Valentine
(Resident Evil)
Unlike her partner, the adorably meatheaded Chris Redfield, Jill's the thinking person's action hero, with the key ability to pick locks. Also, not for nothing, but you try killing a city full of the undead wearing a miniskirt.
Master Chief
The Master Chief is a towering and faceless biochemically and cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier, raised and trained from an early age to be a weapon; he is almost never seen without his green-colored armor and helmet. He is commonly referred to by his naval rank, rather than his given birth-name or serial-designation.
Celes Chere
(Final Fantasy VI)
She's 18, a top general in an evil empire, equally skilled in swordplay and lethal magic, and an opera virtuoso. It's an extracurricular list that could land the frosty Celes in a top-tier school, but her character development is what heralded a turning point in videogame storytelling.
Earthworm Jim
(Earthworm Jim)
Embodying the 1990s' surreal, gross-out humor, Jim was a regular earthworm until he crawled into a robotic suit from space that gave him supernatural powers. Some folks have all the luck! Other reasons to be jealous of Jim: awesome lasers and a head that doubles as a whip.
Manny Calavera
(Grim Fandango)
He's a smooth, Latin-accented skeleton private eye straight out of a Diá de los Muertos version of The Maltese Falcon, who spits out hilarious lines like ''Run, you pigeons! It's Robert Frost!'' Easily the suavest videogame character without a pulse.
(Super Mario Land 2)
Super'' Mario? Yeah, right! The guy can't even touch an enemy without getting hurt; he has to jump on them. In Wario's first starring role (Wario Land for the Game Boy), he just crashes right through enemies with a devastating shoulder charge. Add in the fact that Wario gets all the best lines in the Mariokart, ''I'm Wario! I'm-a gonna ween!'' and Mario just starts looking like another med-school dropout.
Duke Nukem
(Duke Nukem)
He's the 1980s muscle-bound action hero distilled down to his most badass — and quippy. Some samples from Duke Nukem 3D: ''I like a good cigar, and a bad woman.'' ''Damn, that's the second time those alien bastards shot up my ride!'' ''Eat shit and die!''
Bad Mr. Frosty
Icicle-chucking, ripped, and filled with as much holiday cheer as a bouncer with a double ear infection, Bad Mr. Frosty could kick the living tinsel out of that elf dentist or any other bobblehead from those sunshiny Claymation specials. God help you if you ever pretend he's Parson Brown.
John Marston
(Red Dead Redemption)
A reformed outlaw and devoted family man, he can rope a bucking bronco, skin a wild cougar, take out a dozen marauding gunslingers, and rescue a kidnapped courtesan before you've finished reading your morning blogs. Did we mention the killer, unexplained facial scars?
Joanna Dark
(Perfect Dark)
The way she turns her pistols sideways when she sneaks up on someone. Also, let's not forget that her hobbies include rescuing presidents and defeating genocidal reptile aliens. When James Bond goes to sleep, he dreams of being Joanna Dark.
Pac-Man's a yellow circle with a mouth who eats, and eats, and eats. The ghosts are the truly compelling figures of the Pac-Man series, and Pinky's the coolest one of all. She's just so freaking fast.
Fox McCloud
(Star Fox)
Combine the heroism of Luke Skywalker, the bravado of Top Gun's Maverick, and the foxiness of, well, a red fox, and you wind up with this cocky but noble mercenary pilot. Did we mention he could do a barrel roll?
Sonic the Hedgehog
(Sonic the Hedgehog)
The spin dash. You could argue that Sonic looks old-fashioned now — the neon-red shoes, the spiky haircut, the self-satisfied smirk that positively screams ''I Am the King of 1991!'' But for a pure propulsive burst of videogame testosterone, nothing has beaten Sonic's power to charge up a mega-fast, wall-crushing, enemy-destroying roll move.
Chun Li
(Street Fighter II)
The only female character in the original SFII lineup, Chun Li broke up the boys' club with her signature move, the Lightning Kick. Twenty years later, that Lightning Kick is still brutalizing opponents.
Nathan Drake
Unlike so many ultra-buff, ultra-grim videogame heroes, Drake comes off like a good-natured, wisecracking guy... as he scrambles up a crumbling wall like a spider monkey, and then races across rooftops while a helicopter rains down gunfire on him. Also: He's damn handsome.
(Conker's Bad Fur Day)
He drinks. He smokes. He womanizes. He enjoys smashing people in the face with a frying pan. He's essentially W.C. Fields resurrected as a squirrel. And that's why we love him.
(Mass Effect 2)
Bald, covered in tattoos, foulmouthed, and proudly sexual, Jack is most of all uniquely herself. Hang with Jack, and all those princesses and Lara Croft wannabes start looking lame.
Tommy Vercetti
(Grand Theft Auto)
First, there's the voice, but more importantly, there's the style. Sure, there'd been wisecracking homicidal videogame heroes before him, but how many of them turned a golf club into a lethal weapon?
As a deranged but hilariously sarcastic computer system, GLaDOS oversees Aperture Laboratories while constructing ''test chambers'' for you to solve and offering illusory rewards — the cake is most definitely a lie. But despite her villainous nature, we savor her every snarky word, and especially so when she's singing.
(Mortal Kombat)
This guy's only driven by one thing: vengeance. And if there's one thing every story-driven fighter game needs, it's the half-dead man who's angry as hell. Scorpion is him, and you can hear it in his voice every time a spear launches from his palm to draw an unlucky opponent near, ''Get over here!''
(God of War)
This guy's only driven by one thing: vengeance. And if there's one thing every story-driven fighter game needs, it's the half-dead man who's angry as hell. Scorpion is him, and you can hear it in his voice every time a spear launches from his palm to draw an unlucky opponent near, ''Get over here!''
Samus Aran
While Princess Peach sat around Bowser's castle getting mani-pedis from Toad and waiting to be rescued, Samus rolled and shot her way through armies of alien beasties and into the videogame history books as one of the first female protagonists. Her silence speaks volumes of awesomeness.
Solid Snake
(Metal Gear)
A stealth assassin with a mysterious origin, regularly betrayed by his closest friends and charged with saving the world from enemies who know more about him than he knows about himself, Snake is one of those fanciful rarities in thriller history: an existential action hero. Also, has anyone else ever looked so cool hiding inside a cardboard box?