3 DAYS. VOTE.
1. Commander Shepard
2. The Prince (of Persia)
3. Geralt of Rivia
4. Gordon Freeman
5. Sarah Kerrigan
6. Illidan Stormrage
7. Lo Wang
8. Chun Li
Mass Effect really succeeds in catching what is best about epic space sagas, and you get to be the commander. Not some village-boy-tuning-hero, but a character who is badass to start with but still faces plenty of difficult decisions and challenges. One of them being to get the even more badass Spectre status. Did I mention he is badass?
One of the best written game-only characters, the Prince's jurney from cockish juvenile to responsible leader makes you want to play just to follow the story. The quarrels with Farah and his darker self are too funny, showing his character and initial denial of his feeelings without the need to hammer it home. And while the second part of the new series seems like his emo phase, the great fighting system more than makes up for it.
Geralt of Rivia
The reason for the "game only" restriction above, Geralt comes with a world of literature written around him, and it shows. A lesson in gray-gray morality and the difficulty of "right" choices not only in the game world, playing as Geralt is an engaging experience like no other.
(And yes, he also happens to be an infertile and STD-immune hunk in a world filled with curious women... but there has to be some advantage in being a mutant abomination, no? *g*)
The terse hero of the first FPS with an actual story, who combines brains with brawn... and to this day the hero of one of the most epic fights of future humanity. Maybe it's rather that experience, and all the characters around him that we think about when hearing his name, since he shows little actual personality himself. Still, Half-Life as a whole is too good not to put him here.
Witty Girl. Resistance Fighter. Badass Pisonic. Zerg Mutant. Ruthless Queen Of Blades.
Another epic character, be it all the times when she tricked/backstabbed your team once again, or when you get to zerg-swarm everyone in her name.
"Lies! She is corrupted to the core!" Poor Aldaris. For once in his life, he was right.
Blizzard again. While Arthas is more or less a male version of Kerrigan, few biographies are as compelling as Illidan's tragic struggle between his lust for power, desire to protect the world, conflict with his brother and people, love for Tyrande, magic addiction and finally, maybe, quest for redemption. Plus, again, he is just a badass char with his blindfold, crescent blades and demon wings. Too bad WoW degraded him to another loot-dropping boss.
If you listed Duke Nukem, you haven't met his successor, the Shadow Warrior! As far as over-the-top ridiculous violence and comments go, nobody can compare to Lo Wang with his blood-stained Katana and horrible accent. ("You half a man you used to be!")
Not a playable character, yet my favourite in the Diablo series. Forbidden to directly influnence the battle between heaven and hell, you can feel his unspoken hope and anxiety whenever he mentors you before sending you into the fight.
Also, again, just look at his epic design. If angels existed, I would want them to look like this.
As a tribute to older games, Chun Li is the one I probably most "identified" with... though not because of the story, but because I played her all the time. One of the less deformed Street Fighter characters (except for some places in which VG chicks always are...) she has some cool moves and simply kick-kick-kicks major butt.
Well... yeah. Sarcasm. Dark humour. The cutest passive-agressive song.
"We do what we must, because we can."
Everyone says she has to be here. For science! No, really. Did I ever lie to you? I mean, on this list?