Top 50 Best Black Video Game Characters of All Time

black video game characters

Since the 8-bit era to the current ninth generation of 4k gaming, Black video game characters have come a long way; from the multifaceted period of '90s beat em up games, which included titles like Streets of Rage's street brawler Adam Hunter, to Deathloop Colt as the main protagonist of a 2021 Blaxploitation-esque action game.

The first Black video game character appeared in Heavyweight Champ, an arcade fighting game released by SEGA in 1976, and since then Black representation in gaming has made great strides. 

From super ninjas to West Coast gangbangers and gunslingers of the old west, we list 50 of the greatest Black characters to ever appear in video games etc. Spoilers ahead. 

50. Ready 2 Rumble Boxing - Afro Thunder 

If Muhammad Ali was to fuse with Chris Rock, the result would be Afro Thunder, a skinny boxer with lightning-quick reflexes, a relentless jab and snappy one liners. 

Though the funk soul brother is better known for his style and showmanship than boxing prowess in the ring. 

49. The King of Fighters - Lucky Glauber 

Clearly inspired by the NBA hall of famer Kareem Abdul Jabbar, this baller towers over his peers and is literally balling when he fights opponents, effectively using a basketball and karate moves to throw down.

 Lucky may be a member of the humorous and ill-fated Team USA , but he is far from a joke.

48. Punch-Out!! - Mr Sandman 

One of the toughest opponents in the iconic Nintendo boxing game after Mike Tyson.

The Philadelphia boxer is tough as nails and given the chance, he will send you off to dreamland indefinitely with his speedy punches and brash style, nighty night.

47. Def Jam Vendetta - D-Mob

def jam vendetta characters

It's hardly surprising that one of the best Hip-Hop video games of all time features a Suge Knight knock-off as it's main antagonist

D-Mob is a New York mob boss who runs all the fight club action in the city. Using fear as power, this big bully was convinced that no one could ever beat him in a fight.

46. No More Heroes - Shinobu Jacobs 

Introduced as a high school student living a double life, Shinobu Jacobs is a cold-blooded female assassin who is linked to a society of renowned assassins.

She goes through great lengths to hide her illicit career choice, and has a bone to pick with the person who murdered her father in cold blood.

45. Left 4 Dead 2 - Coach 

Among the Left 4 Dead 2 characters, Coach is the most invaluable member of his zombie apocalypse survival group, often being the voice of reason when things go left and taking charge as a leader. 

As the the eldest member of the group, he takes on the role of a compassionate father figure and always finds time to motivate his peers during rough patches.

44. Prototype 2 - James Heller

Fear the man who has nothing to lose perfectly sums up Prototype's 2 James Heller, who has his world turned upside down when he is transformed into the very monster he hunts.

Using his new mutated powers, Heller seeks vengeance on the man who turned him into a monstrosity and killed his family.

43. Starhawk - Emmett Graves

The definition of badass, Emmett Graves is a hired gun and mercenary for a group of human colonists known as Rifters, who harvest Rift Energy from other planets and need protection from Outcasts, former humans exposed to said energy. 

Although Emmett's the star of Starhawk, he's more notable for his role in Sony's PlayStation All-Stars Battle.

42. Saints Row - Pierce Washington 

One of the Saints' lieutenants since Saints Row 2, Pierce Washington is a strategist and the type of gangster to use brains over brawn in most situations. 

While it's a running joke in the game that Pierce never receives recognition from anyone, his loyalty to his gang never falters.

41. Bioshock Infinite - Daisy Fitzroy

From a hapless maid to the radical leader of a revolutionary movement known as the Vox Populi, Daisy Fitzroy was a highly intelligent and strong-headed woman who was seeking justice and retribution for the underprivileged and oppressed citizens of Columbia, by any means necessary. 

40. Streets Of Rage 2 - Skate

Possessing the 90s swag of a inner city teen, Skate is introduced as Adam Hunter's brother and subsequently replaces him after Streets of Rage 1. 

When his brother is kidnapped, he sets out on a quest to find him with the og cast. Unlike the other Streets of Rage characters, Skate is equipped with street rollerblades and hence is the fastest character in the series.

39. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Nazir 

redguard skyrim

Apart of the Dark Brotherhood, an organization of highly trained assassins who carry out
assassination contracts. Nazir is a Redguard with no moral compass or regard for life, especially when money is on the table.

As such, Nazir is one of the members who will offer contracts on several victims around Skyrim. After completing the job, he usually has a joke, pun or sarcastic remark about the contract.

38. Dragon Age: Inquisition - Vivienne

black mage

A classy lady who always commands everyone's respect, Vivienne is a majestic and versatile mage that can be recruited in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

 A leader among the mages, she is noted as a fearsome woman who gained her position through political savvy. Unlike the other recruitable companions she is high class, though for some reason impossible to romance.

37. Fortnite: Battle Royale - Dr Slone

black fortnite skins

Serving as the central and recurring antagonist of Fornite: Battle Royale, Dr Slone was first revealed at the end of Fortnite chapter 2 season 5.

As a high ranking member of the Imagined Order, (a top secret and evil organization), she is a highly intelligent and cunning woman, who can also be arrogant and cruel to those who go against her will.

36. Pokemon X and Y - Grant 

Appearing in X and Y as a Pokemon gym leader who specializes in rock-type pokémon, Grant is a fitness freak who excels at a number of sports, including cycling and mountain climbing. 

He's also a trendsetter and extremely fashionable, with his hairstyle accessories of rolling stones seemingly being popular with impressionable youths in the French inspired region.

35. Fallout 4 - Preston Garvey 

fallout 4 companions

In Bethesda's nuclear apocalypse game, Fallout 4, Preston Garvey is the last surviving member of the once prominent Commonwealth Minutemen, a voluntary defence militia overseeing the Commonwealth in 2287. 

Despite being one of the only survivors of his group, Preston does whatever it takes to help people and clean up the nuclear wasteland of Boston.

34. Destiny 2 - Ikora Rey 

Who is the bald headed woman in Destiny 2? That would be Ikora Rey, a symbolic member of the Destiny 2 cast who serves as the current Warlock Vanguard and leader of the Hidden.

Since being appointed to the position of Vanguard, she serves as a leader and mentor to up and coming Guardians. Ikora is tough and critical, but also caring.

33. Guilty Gear Strive - Nagoriyuki

black video game characters

The muscular vampire with cybernetic implants and a bloodsucking blade made his debut in the seventh mainline instalment of Guilty Gear as a noble samurai. 

Regardless, Nagoriyuki is a considerate person who gives advice to defeated opponents. He is possibly inspired by the real life African samurai Yasuke.

32. League of Legends - Senna 

Enter LoL Senna, a woman cursed by the supernatural Black Mist since childhood. Trained by a man she would later fall in love with. Killed by a cruel green ghost and imprisoned in their lantern for six years. 

Senna's redemption arc sees her escape the Thresh's lantern, put an end to the Black Mist and the curse which keeps the Mist haunting her, with a really cool weapon to do it all with.

31. Apex Legends - Bangalore

black female characters

Anita Williams, better known as Bangalore, is a certified badass of the Apex Legends cast. She's a female soldier who takes no prisoners, and although her kit isn't flashy or over the top, it proves that the basics still hit hard.

Off the battlefield, Anita isn't just a adorned military veteran, but she's also dedicated to her family. 

30. Pokemon Black and White - Iris 

A young lady hailing from the New York inspired Unova Region, Iris is a Dragon-type trainer who has tons of oomph and unyielding power. She is actually a Gym Leader in Pokemon White, while in the sequel Pokemon Black and White 2, she becomes the champion of Unova region's Pokémon League. Talk about a glow up.

29. Mortal Kombat 4 - Tanya 

Making her playable debut in 1997's Mortal Kombat 4, Tanya is introduced as an apparent innocent woman who is fighting the good cause.

However in what is possibly one of the biggest plot twists in Mortal Kombat history, Tanya's cinematic ending reveals that she is a treacherous and deceitful individual, who can be brought for the right place, and that's her beauty and charm.

28. Street Fighter 3: New Generation - Sean 

black fighting game characters

A character with lost potential, Sean is a prodigy shotokan fighter and baller who was introduced in Street Fighter III

Unlike the other Street Fighter Shoto characters in the series, he is a rookie who idolises Ken Masters, and it's largely displayed through his mannerisms and nerfed abilities. 

27. Arms - Twintelle 

In 2017 Twintelle broke the internet with a real bum.. All jokes aside, this high class woman is a celebrity in her polarising universe who enters the world of combatants, but unlike the other playable fighters in the game who fight with elasticated arms, she packs a punch with her hair.

26. Resident Evil 5 - Sheva Alomar 

games with black protagonists

Fighting alongside Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 5 in a game she rightfully deserved the starring role in is co-lead Sheva Alomar.

The pair joined forces as part of the BSAA in West Africa after the deadly las plagas parasite infested the area and turned it's inhabitants into mindless zombies. Sheva appears to be a one-and-done character as she has yet to appear in a new Resident Evil game.

25.Street Fighter - Balrog 

mike tyson video game

As a seasoned Mike Tyson clone, who first appeared as a boss character in Street Fighter II, Balrog is a greedy and hot headed American boxer who loves money, woman and gambling.

 Chasing the American Dream leads him to join the Shadaloo criminal organization, after he is permanently banned from the sport of boxing for using illegal manoeuvres and accidently killing an opponent. 

24. Splatoon 2 - Marina 

Nintendo's Splatoon 2 is notable for many reasons — and a big part of that is Marina, as one half of the sensational music group 'Off The Hook' in Splatoon 2. 

As one of the most beloved Nintendo characters in recent yearsMarina is cool, fashionably stylish and at times a little sassy.

23. Mortal Kombat - Jax 

The soldier with bionic arms who found himself involved in an inter-dimensional fighting tournament for the fate of the Earth, has been a mainstay of the Mortal Kombat franchise since 1993. 

Though his story really picks up in the most recent Mortal Kombat games, with the introduction of his daughter, Jacqui Briggs, and his liberating quest in MK 11.

22. Tekken 7 - Leroy Smith 

fighting game characters

Old man Leroy is a seasoned veteran of Wing Chun martial arts who, 50 years ago, lost his family and home in New York to gang violence. 

After fleeing from the trenches of NYC and mastering Kung-Fu oversees, years later he would return to the city to enact revenge on the gangs and liberate his hometown from their control. 

21. Street Fighter 6 - Kimberly 

black street fighter characters

As one of the freshest new character designs the series has seen in years, this American female ninja joins the street fighter 6 cast as Guy's fighting prodigy and the 39th successor to Bushinryu Ninjutsu. 

Despite her eccentric ambitions to be a super ninja, Kimberly actually had an normal upbringing. She's also obsessed with '80s pop culture.

20. Def Jam: Fight for New York - Crow

Who better than Snoop Dogg to portray a downright evil yet charismatic antagonist in the greatest Hip-Hop video game of all time.

That's exactly what happened in EA's rapper fighting game, which portrayed the Hip-Hop star as a cutthroat mobster and club owner with ambitions to take over all his rival D-Mob's New York territory for himself.

19. Streets of Rage 4 - Adam Hunter

Streets of Rage 1 featured street brawling vigilante Adam Hunter as one of the three cops who quit the city's corrupt police force to take back the streets from an quasi criminal organization and it's hired thugs.

Adam would be replaced as a playable character by his younger brother, until Streets of Rage 4. His glow up in the fourth outing is something for the record books.

18. Final Fantasy XIII - Sazh Katzroy

black final fantasy characters
© Square Enix

Sazh was introduced in Final Fantasy XIII—a game many people dislike—and yet he is a major reason why the game is tolerable. 

At first glance, Sazh could be written off as nothing more than a comical buffoon, but he also embodies the guy just trying to do his best in a bleak world, while being a devoted father to his son Dajh, and for many, that makes him a genuinely relatable character.

17. Halo - Avery Johnson 

This highly trained Marine is the ultimate hype man and the king of motivational speeches. With a couple words, he can get anybody hyped up to shoot some aliens and save planet Earth.

His natural tenacity and go-getter spirit serves as a beacon for mankind in it's darkest hours. Master Chief for sure wouldn't be the hero he is without Avery's guidance and his bastion of wisdom. 

16. Gears of War - Augustus Cole  

The moment Cole Train appeared on-screen it was pretty clear what he was all about. As a mainstay supporting character, this former Thrashball player is an unstoppable force of locust-crushing nature, while his brash humour and infectious energy makes him a fan favorite.

Though by the end of the trilogy you realise he's more than just a walking catchphrase machine.

15. Mass Effect - David Anderson 

black characters in video games

David Anderson is the backbone of the Mass Effect trilogy, holding the crew together while the universe falls apart.

The captain is possibly the most accomplished war hero in all of the Alliance, earning multiple awards from various organizations for his valor in combat. Starting off as Shepard’s commanding officer, by the end he almost becomes a father figure to the player.

14. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End - Nadine Ross

The badassery of Nadine, a South African mercenary turned treasure hunter has to be studied one day. Introduced in Uncharted 4 as a secondary antagonist, she commanded respect in every scene using cunningness or brute force.

 In her standalone title, Lost Legacy however, Nadine became more than Nathan Drake's adversary, when she teamed up with treasure hunter and thief for hire Chloe Frazer.

13/12. The Last of Us - Henry and Sam

Henry and Sam are brothers who star in one of the game's most tragic storylines. From the very start, it is evident that Henry and Sam share a very close and protective bond, especially when it comes to the older sibling's shielding over the youngest in the apocalypse. 

Henry would do anything to ensure Sam's safety, even if it meant putting his young brother's safety above his own.

11. Horizon Zero Dawn - Varl 

Following in his War-Chief mother’s footsteps as a skilled warrior, Varl is a Nora Brave who is resolute and morally upright.

He joined forces with Aloy in her quest to end the Eclipse, an extremist cult, after members of Eclipse killed multiple Nora teenagers, including his younger sister. 

10. Tekken 3 - Eddy Gordo

One of the greatest fighting games of all time produced one of the most iconic fighting game characters ever, the Brazilian capoeira fighter Eddy Gordo. A character who along with his female counterpart, has been credited with popularising the art of capoeira to a new audience.

In Tekken 3, Eddy's rich to rags story sees him entering the king of iron fist tournament to seek revenge against the organization that murdered his wealthy parents and threw him in prison. While in later games it was to find a cure for his sick master (the person responsible for teaching him capoeira).

9. Red Dead Redemption 2 - Lenny Summers 

black cowboys in video games

As the son of former slaves, Lenny in fact had a fairly good upbringing and received an education from his daddy who could read and write. Sadly Lenny was forced to become an outlaw at the young age of fifteen after killing the drunkards who took his father's life. 

 In time, he managed to run with the infamous Van der Linde gang. Lenny has some of the best interactions in the game, whether he’s explaining to Arthur about white privilege, teaching Sean to read, or getting wasted with Arthur, which in turn makes Lenny’s demise that much more painful.

8. Final Fantasy VII - Barret Wallace

black characters
© Square Enix

To this day Final Fantasy VII is considered to be the best JRPG ever and it's inclusion of a hot-headed yet compassionate and passionate gun arm man who fights to save the planet from an evil corporation is part of the reason.

Barret Wallace is an emotionally-driven leader of the eco-terrorist group Avalanche, who deeply cares about his cause and his allies. He is also torn between fighting and taking care of his step daughter, Marlene.

7. Mafia 3 - Roxy Laveau

The Mafia 3 DLC faster, baby! brought the unapologetic Roxy Laveau into fold as a badass babe who joined her daddy's cause to fight for civil rights and equality for all oppressed folks living in New Bordeaux. 

Roxy excludes classic cool with a tough exterior and is good with a gun as any man. 

6. Grand Theft Auto V - Franklin Clinton

What happens in the hood stays in the hood, especially for GTA 5's Franklin Clinton on the mean streets of Los Santos. 

Franklin is a young street hustler trying to get out of the hood and live comfortably rich. He gets his big break upon meeting Michal De Santa, a man he eventually commits money heists with, while under scrutiny from a corrupt government agency and powerful criminals.

5. Assassin's Creed - Adéwalé

Freedom Cry's title truly lives up to it's name, offering up a semi-realistic depiction of slavery in the Caribbean during the 18th Century.

The protagonist of the game Adéwalé, a freed slave, is a liberating hero, struggling between his duty to the Assassin order and his desire to end slavery once and for all. It's incredibly fulfilling playing as the Trinidadian assassin as he frees captured slaves on plantations, which makes him a notable character.  

4. Deathloop - Colt 

Starring a borderline insane and very talkative blaxploitation type of protag, Deathloop is about a man who is stuck on an island called Blackreef that exists in a timeloop where a single day repeats itself over and over again.

Colt has to break the cycle by killing the eight "Visionaries" who have created it. To do that, he must go through the loop several times, figuring out the best way to assassinate them all.

3. Watch Dogs 2 - Marcus Holloway 

After the first game was criticised for being both boring and bland, Ubisoft took note and injected some personality into the game's sequel. This included replacing the one-note vigilante Aiden Pierce with the charismatic hacktivist and parkour professional Marcus Holloway.

Marcus is a man on mission who is taking aim at ctsOS 2.0, the second generation operating system which connects him to crimes he never commits, as a result of racial profiling. The hipster has often been praised for being a character who isn't plagued by black stereotypes.

2. The Walking Dead - Lee Everett

The protagonist of the episodic adventure game The Walking Dead: Season One, Lee Everett, is convicted of killing a state senator who was having an affair with his wife. However, he is freed from his forthcoming incarceration by the zombie apocalypse.

Fleeing into the city to find shelter, he would eventually meet Clementine, a young girl who gave him a chance to redeem himself for his past. Regard of the choices that the player picks for Lee, he's a consistently a thoughtful, supportive and intelligent man. Lee's journey is so momentous because what he truly finds through Clementine is redemption and a second chance to be a good man. 

1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - Carl "CJ" Johnson

black video game characters

Starring in one of most successful games of all time is Carl Johnson in 2004’s GTA San Andreas, a mild-manner and charismatic gangbanger who has to find his mother's killer, save his neighborhood and revive his gang in a parodied version of early '90s Los Angeles.

CJ is at the center of it all, as the game confronts all the pressing social issues which affected the hood in the early 90s from gang banging, police corruption and even betrayal. Giving credit where credit is due, CJ's character probably wouldn't have been as memorable or iconic without his voice actor Young Mayley.

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