Independent Ladies: Strong Female Protagonists of Games Past

1 of 10

Even though some games fall way under the mark when it comes to social equality, there have been continuous efforts to undermine the so-called "established formula" of females always being "damsels in distress" or otherwise unfairly represented. Every single one of these ladies has broken the mold, and every franchise they represent has gone onto greatness.

In truth, greatness can be found in all facets of life, and it doesn't know perceived barriers. I salute these great ladies, and everything that they've accomplished. Now, onto the list!

Samus Aran (Metroid, 1987)

When players first delved into the world of Metroid on the NES, they had no idea that they were playing as a woman throughout their entire journey through the desolate world of Planet Zebes. Why? Because it didn't matter! Samus is able to take out Kraid, Ridley, the resident Metroids and Mother Brain single-handedly.

The big reveal comes at the end of the journey, only if the player completes the game in 3 hours or less. Samus carries the illustrious honor of being one of the bravest protagonists of all time, shattering the supposed trope of damsel in distress!

All of the possible endings for Metroid can be viewed here.

Claire Redfield (Resident Evil 2, 1998)

Claire Redfield first made her appearance in Resident Evil 2, and despite having to put up with some sexist treatment from the Gun Shop owner ("don't you worry, girlie"). She is able to traverse the dangerous ruins of Raccoon City, rescue Sherry Birkin, and take out her freakazoid mutant father, William, in an epic showdown.

What makes Claire awesome is that she is not only tough, but also maternal when it comes to rescuing young Sherry from the zombie menace. Her strong sense of emotional IQ, coolness in the face of adversity and sheer grit make her a force to reckon with.

Jill Valentine (Resident Evil, 1996)

Another great heroine from the Resident Evil franchise, a complete playthrough of the original Resident Evil will see her battling zombies, hunters and Tyrant, all while trying to rescue Chris and dealing with Barry's tomfoolery. Jill also makes a return in Resident Evil 3, where she has to dodge the relentless advances of the smarmy, but likeable U.B.C.S agent, Carlos Oliveira.

Jill would go on to greatness in later titles, but her early roles cemented her as a strong, loyal, and determined protagonist who continues to bounce back regardless of the circumstances.

Sherry Birkin (Resident Evil 2, 1998)

Despite being overly sexualized in Resident Evil 6, Sherry made her first appearance in Resident Evil 2 as the sorely neglected daughter of scientists Annette and William Birkin. Through this, she has learned to take care of herself and proves to be resourceful and quick-witted.

Even when faced with a rabid pack of zombie dogs, she continues to plow on and even helps Claire secure the Clover Key after running through said dogs a second time. Sherry's quick thinking, resolve, and autonomy are a role model that whiny kids the world over can look up to!

Aerith Gainsborough (Final Fantasy VII, 1997)

First making her appearance in Final Fantasy VII, Aerith stands out because what she lacks in physical strength, she more than makes up for in spirit and positivity. She is first encountered in the slums by Cloud after the bombing of the Sector 1 Mako Reactor, where he sees her cheerfully selling flowers amid the chaos.

Despite all of the disorder she seems to find herself surrounded by, Aerith is always upbeat and determined in demeanor. Not even death can stop her!

Ms. Pac-Man (1982)

Originally conceived as an enhancement kit for the original Pac-Man called Crazy Otto, Ms. Pac-Man was Namco's "thank you" to the large number of female gamers who played the original title in droves. However, that doesn't mean that Ms. Pac-Man is a simple clone of the original.

The differences between it and the original title are vast, including different sound effects, maze designs, mobile fruit bonuses, and cutscenes. Released in 1982 and even garnering the Certificate of Merit at the 1982 Arcade Awards, Ms. Pac-Man is truly gaming's First Lady that dodged development hell and continues to stand the test of time!

Heather Mason (Silent Hill 3, 2003)

The adopted daughter of Harry Mason, Heather is the main protagonist in Silent Hill 3. After enduring a nightmare in the local mall's burger shack, she begins to head home. However, she soon finds herself in a twisted version of reality, where hulking monsters and warring cultists hold dominion.

Unblinking, she brandishes her weapon and plows forward through sewers, an abandoned building, a hospital, and the Lakeside Amusement Park to find out why everything's gone crazy around her! Heather shows true grit, determination, and love despite being surrounded by some of the most horrific monstrosities ever concocted.

Guess no one in The Order ever demonstrated a shred of public service values!

Rynn (Drakan: The Ancients' Gates, 2002)

Alright, before you jump on me for skipping Order of the Flame, hear me out. Rynn truly had earned her "warrior wings" by the time Ancients' Gates came out, and is revered as a warrior by everyone she comes across. There was even a time when a Surdana resident was too scared to enter his home due to a recent invasion by large spiders, which Rynn quickly takes care of.

Sharp-tongued, smart and brave, Rynn bravely enters hostile domains with or without her dragon companion, Arokh, to take on some of the most vile creatures to threaten all of humanity. Necromancers, undead monks, and Giant Yetis are not enough to scare this badass woman away.

Girl Power

Though it may be true that some games misrepresent females in some fashion, these ladies bravely break that trope and kick some serious butt in the process. Regardless of age, outlook or socioeconomic status, rising above all opposition are what these women do best, and their stories are some of the most beloved in video game history.

The GamingGuru salutes you, and I have a feeling I'm not the only one!

Published May. 27th 2015

Contributor

A gamer since the days of the Nintendo Action Set, GamingGuru is here to get his game up and lay the smack down!

  • Ainyan
    Correspondent
    Such a truncated list of great female characters, but an excellent cross-section across multiple genres. :)
  • GamingGuru
    Contributor
    Thanks! I could write about every single one of these characters all day and have played every single one of them to completion, so you could imagine the amount of restraint I had to put forth! :-)

    I wouldn't mind writing a more detailed piece down the road, perhaps about all of them if I can! Thanks for reading! :-)

New Cache - article_comments_article_23207
Related