In 1958 a physicist by the name of William Higinbotham created the game “Tennis for Two” which is a game very similar to Pong. Since that point video games have become a staple in everyday society which has led to the creation of some incredibly iconic characters. Movies and TV shows have been created after some of these characters and I expect you to recognize them all!
Note: This list is not in any particular order and does not include info about spin-offs
Duke Nukem made his debut in 1991 and has only 4 releases to date but that doesn’t stop him from making our list of top 18 most iconic characters. The list of titles and platforms Duke Nukem has appeared in is as follows: Duke Nukem (1991)[PC], Duke Nukem II (1993)[PC], Duke Nukem 3D (1996)[Sega|N64|Playstation|PC], Duke Nukem Forever(2011)[PC|Xbox|Playstation]
Scorpion made his debut in 1992 and has been a playable character in every Mortal Kombat video game except Mortal Kombat 3. The list of titles and platforms that Scorpion has appeared in is vast and as follows – in chronological order: Mortal Kombat (1992)[Arcade], Mortal Kombat II (1993)[Arcade], Mortal Kombat 4 (1997)[Arcade|Playstation|N64], Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)[Playstation|Xbox], Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)[Playstation|Xbox], Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)[PlayStation|Xbox], Mortal Kombat (2011)[PlayStation|Xbox], Mortal Kombat X (2015)[PlayStation|Xbox].
In 1995 New Line Cinema released the first movie adaptation of the video game series. Scorpion was played by Chris Casamassa.
Vault Boy made his debut in the original Fallout in 1997. Although never a playable character Vault Boy takes a strong role in the entire Fallout Series. There have been 5 Fallout releases and all have been a success: Fallout (1997)[PC], Fallout 2 (1998)[PC], Fallout 3 (2008)[PC|PlayStation|Xbox], Fallout: New Vegas (2010)[PC|PlayStation|Xbox], Fallout 4 (2015) [PlayStation|Xbox].
Illidan Stormrage made his debut in the Warcraft series in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos which was released for PC in 2002. He has since played a crucial role in both Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and World of Warcraft from The Burning Crusade expansion pack.
Diablo is a boss in all 3 of the wildly successful diablo series. His first appearance was in the self-titled Diablo for the PC in 1996. There have been 3 releases, each with expansions on top of original release. The list of titles include: Diablo (1996)[PC], Diablo 2 (2000)[PC], Diablo 3 (2012)[PC|Xbox|Playstation].
Altair made his debut in 2007. He is the playable character from the original Assassins Creed (2007)[PlayStation|Xbox|PC] and shares the role in Assassins Creed: Revelations (2011)[PlayStation|Xbox|PC ]. Although he is only playable in 2 releases from the series, he is the face of the Assassins Creed series.
Gordon Freeman is the main protagonist from the Half-Life video game series. His debut was in Half-Life (1998)[PC]. The Half-Life series was short-lived but goes down as one of the greatest PC releases of all times. There were only 2 full-releases but many believe the Half-Life series was one of the most important video game releases of all time. Half-Life 2 was released in 2004[PC].
Toad is an extremely dynamic character which everyone seems to have fallen in love with. His debut was in the original Super Mario Bros (1985)[NES] and has been a constant in many Nintendo titles. In total Toad has appeared in 18 different series’ and 45 different titles. Some of these major series’ that Toad has appeared in include: Super Mario Bros, Super Smash Bros, Paper Mario, Mario Party, Mario Tennis and Mario Golf; he is also the main protagonist in Wario’s Woods.
Crash Bandicoot was an exclusive PlayStation release in 1996. The original release Crash Bandicoot (1996)[PlayStation] followed by Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (1997)[PlayStation], and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (1998)[PlayStation], Crash Bandicoot 4: The Wrath of Cortex (2001)[Playstation|Xbox|Nintendo Gamecube], Crash Bandicoot 5: The Huge Adventure (2002)[Gameboy Advance], Crash of the Titans (2007)[PlayStation|Xbox|Gameboy Advance], and in 2017 the remastered edition will be released for PS4 which will include titles 1-3. The first 3 Crash Bandicoot release all finished within the top 15 video games sales of all-time for the original Playstation.
Lara Croft is the protagonist in the tomb raider series. Her debut was in 1996 in Tomb Raider [PC|Playstation|Sega Saturn]. Following the original release she was found to be a very successful character and starred in the following releases: Tomb Raider II (1997)[PC|PlayStation], Tomb Raider III(1998)[PC|PlayStation], Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (1999)[PC|PlayStation|Dreamcast], Tomb Raider: Chronicles (2000)[PC|PlayStation|Dreamcast], Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness (2003)[PC|PlayStation] , Tomb Raider: Legend (2006)[PC|PlayStation|Xbox|Gameboy], Tomb Raider: Underworld (2008)[PC|PlayStation|Xbox|Nintendo], Tomb Raider (2013)[PC|Xbox|PlayStation], Rise of the Tomb Raider(2015)[PC|PlayStation|Xbox].
There was also a film adaptation of Tomb Raider called Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with a sequel being released in 2003 called Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Angelina Jolie portrays Lara Croft in both films.
Bowser made his first appearance as the antagonist to Mario in Super Mario Bros (1985) and is the only true antagonist to make this list. Bowser, like Toad, has appearances spanning many years and many titles. Bowser can be found in 34 different series, and 76 different releases.
Bowser is also a feature antagonist in the live-action filmed releases in 1993. He was played by Dennis Hopper.
Link made his first appearance in The Legend of Zelda which was released in 1986. Link has become one of the most popular Nintendo characters of all time and has been featured in the following titles from the main Zelda series: The Legend of Zelda (1986)[Gameboy, Nintendo], The Adventure of Link(1987)[Nintendo], A Link to The Past (1991)[Super Nintendo], Link’s Awakening(1993)[Gameboy|Gameboy Color], Ocarina of Time (1998)[Nintendo 64], Majora’s Mask (2000)[Nintendo 64], Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages (2001)[Gameboy Color], Four Swords (2002)[Gameboy Advance], The Wind Waker (2002)[Nintendo Gamecube], Four Swords Adventures (2004)[Nintendo Gamecube], The Minish Cap (2004)[Gameboy Advance], Twilight Princess (2006)[Nintendo Wii|Nintendo Gamecube], Phantom Hourglass (2007)[Nintendo DS], Spirit Tracks (2009)[Nintendo DS], Skyward Sword (2011)[Nintendo Wii], A Link Between Worlds (2013)[Nintendo 3DS], Tri Force Heroes (2015)[Nintendo 3DS].
Link has also been featured in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Donkey Kong is a dynamic Nintendo character who plays both protagonist and antagonist depending on the situation. He was first released in 1981 in the arcade game Donkey Kong. He has since seen an immense amount of airtime in the Nintendo world. He has made appearances in 24 different Nintendo series’ and appeared in 59 game releases.
There was also a Donkey Kong television series called “Donkey Kong Coutry” which aired in 1996. The voice of Donkey Kong was played by Richard Yearwood.
Master Chief is the protagonist from the Halo series and probably the most notable character released on the Xbox platform. His first appearance was in Halo (2001)[Xbox] and has been in the following game releases: Halo (2001)[Xbox|PC], Halo 2 (2004)[Xbox|PC], Halo 3 (2007)[Xbox|PC], Halo 3:ODST (2009)[Xbox], Halo Reach (2010)[Xbox], Halo: Combat Evolved (2011)[Xbox], Halo 4 (2012)[Xbox], Halo: Spartan Assault (2013)[PC|Xbox], Halo 5: Guardians (2015)[Xbox|PC].
Sonic made his debut in 1991 and is the only Sega character to make our list. Sonic saw immense success with his first release Sonic The Hedgehog (1991)[Sega Genesis] which sold 15 million units. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)[Sega Genesis] saw less success selling 6 million copies. The next notable release was Sonic the Hedgehog(2006)[Mobile] which saw 8 million units. Overall there have been 87.82 million Sonic units sold to date.
Sonic also saw 3 cartoon releases: Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog (1993) which saw 1 season and 65 episodes released; Sonic the Hedgehog (1993) which saw 2 seasons and 26 episodes; and Sonic Underground (1999) which saw 1 season and 40 episodes.
Pikachu first saw his release in Pokémon Red and Green in Japan in 1996 but in America saw his popularity soar with the release of the cartoon series in 1997. Pikachu has become the face of Pokémon surpassing all other Pokémon and trainer characters in the series. Pokémon has had 17 different releases and is known for releasing the same game as separate colors (for example Pokémon Red, Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Yellow were released at the same time with similar content).
Pikachu has been a staple of the series in both cartoons and video games and is the main Pokémon of protagonist Ash Ketchum.
Pac-Man is the oldest character to make our list making his debut in 1980. Pac-Man (1980)[Arcade] is one of the most profitable video games of all times – seeing more than 2.5 billion dollars in quarters by the 1990s! There have been many spinoffs and adaptations of Pac-Man (including Ms. Pac-Man) but the original white pixel munching Pac-Man is not only one of the most iconic characters of all times – it is also probably the most iconic video games ever created.
Without a doubt the most iconic video game character ever created is not-surprisingly Mario. First debuting in 1981 Mario has become one of the most famous popular culture “people” ever known. Mario actually made his debut in Donkey Kong (1981)[Arcade] but has sense been the protagonist in many games. Mario has made appearances in 53 different video game series and hundreds of different video game titles.
In 1993 the Super Mario Bros. movie was released and Mario was played by Bob Hoskins.