Wow. Just saw this thread and wanted to add my list. Its really difficult for me to just have five overall characters because I would struggle doing a top ten for several franchises (Looking at you Final Fantasy and Mass Effect), but after much thought, this is what I came up with. Please note these are characters from games I've played, so Link, Snake, and many of the other iconic characters of our beloved medium are left off because they may be great characters, I have just not experienced them. Also I don't think that I could go into great detail like some here, but I'll do my best. A final criteria I placed on myself is ONE per franchise. Without further ado: #5. Ellie: The Last of Us - Ellie is a character I became more fascinated by the longer I played the Last of Us. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't played the game (and unless it doesn't appeal to you, what are you waiting for?) but the bond you build between her and Joel over the course of the game is so palpable, especially in light of the game's opening chapter. But what really did it for me was the climactic moment where she survives the Winter. The game design and pacing struck me to my foundation after witnessing that portion and I needed the break that was designed to really process what just happend. As a result, Ellie is a character who I feel is someone that was brought to life with incredible writing and exemplary acting. #4. Ratchet: Ratchet & Clank series - Originally, I despised Ratchet. For those who haven't played the original, he was a complete jerk to Clank. However, the sequels worked this out and made him more enjoyable to play. By the time the series jumped to the PS3, Ratchet became a completely different Lombax. The reboot this year made him a slightly naive type character and I was of two minds. I wanted them to stay true to Jerk Ratchet and flesh out WHY he was such a jerk as opposed to just being one for the sake of it. However, his slightly gullible personality IS more likable... Anyway, he encapsulates friendship quite a bit but there is one character that I feel does better... But I'll get to him. #3. Nathan Drake: Uncharted series - Nathan Drake was a typical archetype risk taker when I tried Uncharted: Drake's Fortune for the first time. However, over the course of the trilogy on the PS3, he had so much more depth. His entire interaction with Elena shows just how flawed he is and by the time Drake's Deception was through, I felt that the entirety of his character was so developed that if one personality trait were to be missing than Drake wouldn't be Drake. Then Unchated 4 happened. Because the game is so recent, saying ANYTHING about his character development is a spoiler but I will say this: A Thief's End SKYROCKETED Drake into my top 5. #2. Marcus Fenix: Gears of War series - Marcus is the one character I've come across who would do anything for anyone, but his relationship with Delta Squad, particularly with Dom and Anya, show just how far he is willing to go for those he cares about most. While it may be a slight cop-out, the novels REALLY flesh out this characteristic. And in going to such lengths, he deals with all the shit that comes his way through gritted teeth and an air of "I'm the only one who can get this done." By the time Gears of War 3 happens, the overall story arc was becoming a bit tiresome, but the big climax of the game was the epitome of his relationship with those around him. #1. Auron: Final Fantasy X - Without question, Auron is my favorite character of all time. When you see him at the beginning of the game, he immediately sparks questions. His cool demeanor and design is so fascinating and when he becomes a permanent member of the party, he is the one character who is interesting (that speaks at that point. Kimahri is awesome but he takes awhile to talk). By the time you learn of his driving desire, he is shown to be more than Mr. Cool, Calm and Collected, but flawed by failure. And his ultimate reveal is one that I enjoy still to this day.