Every Resident Evil Protagonist RANKED

VOICE OVER: Aaron Brown WRITTEN BY: Saim Cheeda
"Resident Evil" has some iconic protagonists, but which one is the very best? For this list, we'll be looking at the characters that have featured in lead roles within the mainline "Resident Evil" games and judging them based on their character arcs, their contributions to the plot, and why they're so popular. Our list includes Rebecca Chambers, Chris Redfield, Ethan Winters, Moira Burton, and more!
"Resident Evil" has some iconic protagonists, but which one is the very best? For this list, we’ll be looking at the characters that have featured in lead roles within the mainline "Resident Evil" games and judging them based on their character arcs, their contributions to the plot, and why they’re so popular. Our list includes Rebecca Chambers, Chris Redfield, Ethan Winters, Moira Burton, and more! Which Resident Evil protagonist do you think is a cut above the rest? Let us know in the comments.

#18: Steve Burnside

The primary aspect of Claire Redfield’s partner in “Resident Evil - Code: Veronica” is his massive crush on her. Imprisoned in the Rockfort Island facility, Steve searches for his father and teams up with Claire. He can be an annoying person to have around, as Steve keeps trying to flirt with Claire, who’s unreceptive to his charms. After being forced to kill his infected father, Steve is eventually infected himself, which at least gives him an arc where he sacrifices himself to avoid taking Claire’s life. Although we do feel sorry for the young man’s tragic story, Steve never really helps Claire in a big way and his demise doesn’t have much of an emotional impact.

#17: Helena Harper

Much like Steve Burnside, Helena is like a tagalong partner looking for their family member. Forced to partake in the assassination of the president with her sister held hostage, Helena teams with Leon to make up for her role in the villainous plot. Although she’s a playable character, Helena suffers from a lack of chemistry with Leon. Unlike the likes of Claire and Ada Wong, the plot doesn’t really create a deep connection between Helena and Leon and she comes across as a secondary protagonist at best. Since she was also forced to create the C-virus, Helena has too many skeletons in the closet to truly feel like a hero.

#16: Moira Burton

The daughter of series veteran Barry Burton, Moira starts out as a rather stereotypically foulmouthed youngster. Unlike the rest of the protagonists, Moira has a fear of guns and uses a range of melee weapons to defend herself. As Claire’s companion in “Resident Evil: Revelations 2,” Moira’s purpose is to contrast with her sure-footed partner. It can get frustrating to put up with Moira’s constant mood swings but it’s part of the character’s development to mature out of her father’s shadow. Moira’s lack of ability with firearms doesn’t make her very user-friendly, as players would be inclined to control a protagonist that makes them feel empowered. It definitely takes a while to get accustomed to Moira’s bravado, but we can appreciate her arc of learning to step up for a fight when it matters the most.

#15: Billy Coen

Among the more secretive protagonists in the series, the main appeal behind Billy is the uncertainty of his past. He’s introduced as a former marine corps lieutenant sentenced for execution until Raccoon City’s events lead to his freedom and team-up with Rebecca Chambers. Initially resigned to his fate and a cynical personality, forming a partnership with Rebecca to survive changes Billy’s outlook. He’s a character who carries an aggressive style of combat, not wanting to give the zombies any chance of hurting him or Rebecca. Billy’s gruff exterior gradually wears off as he bonds with his partner, with players encouraged to accept his claims of being falsely accused. He doesn’t have as much staying power as several other protagonists because of his one-off appearance, but Billy does hold interest during the events of “Resident Evil Zero”.

#14: Sherry Birkin

The daughter of infected scientist Willaim Birkin, Sherry is rescued by Claire in “Resident Evil 2,” where she bonds with her and Leon. Sherry’s a character fans can easily sympathize with, as she’s caught up with the Raccoon City fiasco that her father is responsible for. Although we do get to play as Sherry in stealth-based sequences, she doesn’t become a protagonist in her own right by “Resident Evil 6.” She’s brave both as a child and as an anti-bioterrorism operative as an adult, but Sherry needs quite a lot of saving each time. We don’t get to see Sherry further than being a rookie, which doesn’t make her the biggest threat. Still, her tenacity can be appreciated for the way finds ways to contribute to the plot, whether it’s aiding Claire or teaming with Jake Muller.

#13: Jake Muller

The third main protagonist of “Resident Evil 6,” Jake’s existence itself is intriguing for being the son of Albert Wesker. While not evil like his father, Jake starts out looking out only for himself, not caring about the effects of the C-virus ravaging the world. It can be difficult for fans to connect with him since Jake is so focused on things like money and having fun wreaking havoc on the infected. But his pairing with Sherry, who has an equally family history, paves the way for Jake to try and do better. Jake’s specialized blood offers him heightened abilities, which makes his campaign interesting for those who want a unique playthrough but can alienate long-time fans that value the classic “Resident Evil” experience.

#12: Piers Nivans

Chris’ partner in the second campaign of “Resident Evil 6,” Piers is a BSAA agent who tries to find positives in the dark atmosphere of the series. Very likable and a loyal friend Piers stays by Chris’ side, offering him the devotion he needs during the latter’s depressive state. Unfortunately for the character, he’s stuck in the most uninviting playthrough of “Resident Evil 6,” as the gameplay is basically a run-and-gun shooter with little depth into how Piers functions in combat. During the times the story does slow down, Piers encourages Chris to keep fighting and sacrifices himself to save his friend’s life. With just one appearance, there’s not as much about Piers to uncover as we’d like, but he is a contender for the nicest hero in the series.

#11: Sheva Alomar

Sheva is Chris’ partner in “Resident Evil 5,” and proves to be a valuable ally within the story.
She’s instrumental in helping Chris recover Jill Valentine from Albert Wesker’s control and stopping Wesker’s master plan. While her AI within the gameplay can be clunky at times, Sheva is far from a burden that other companions like Ashley in “Resident Evil 4” were. While she doesn’t have the seemingly superhuman strength Chris does, Sheva compliments him well by being just as aggressive. The one drawback about Sheva’s characterization is a lack of a personal arc since her primary purpose is to aid Chris in his vendetta against Wesker. Still, Sheva’s badass style and usefulness in the field can’t be underestimated, becoming part of arguably the hardest-hitting pair in the “Resident Evil” series.

#10: Rebecca Chambers

The youngest member of the S.T.A.R.S Bravo team Rebecca is a prodigy who assists Chris in the original “Resident Evil.” She contrasts with Chris, Jill, and Barry’s stronger presence with her sweet demeanor and inexperienced mindset. Rebecca doesn’t take charge as much in the first game but the prequel “Resident Evil Zero” reveals that she’s been fighting the infected for two days straight. Here, Rebecca’s team-up with Billy Coen shows her empathetic side, ensuring that Billy walks away as a free man. Rebecca’s a pragmatist in combat, not possessing the physical attributes that Chris and Billy have and coming up with creative ways to battle the infected. In a world filled with characters with gritty personalities, it’s worth having a protagonist as bubbly and cheerful as Rebecca.

#9: HUNK

There’s never been a playable character as enigmatic as HUNK, whose backstory is never revealed. He barely qualifies as a protagonist since HUNK has little care for others, having no qualms with leaving his own squad to suffer if they can’t save themselves. HUNK’s team is sent to retrieve the G-virus from William Birkin in “Resident Evil 2,” where he emerges as the sole survivor of Raccoon City’s events. His popularity stems from HUNK’s silent but dominating presence, with everything from his one-liners to his gas mask appearance adding to his coolness factor. HUNK uniquely has no connections with any “Resident Evil” protagonist, making his campaigns all about survival, which he does better than anyone else.

#8: Barry Burton

Starting out as Jill’s partner in the original “Resident Evil,” Barry is an ally anyone would be lucky to have. Carrying a massive frame and intimidating appearance, Barry is more of a gentle giant and a character who values loyalty. He also happens to be the first protagonist with a family, with his relationship with daughter Moira detailed in “Resident Evil: Revelations 2,” the first game where he’s a playable protagonist. Barry’s notable for his gun-wielding and trigger-happy personality, also bringing in hilarious one-liners like the infamous “Jill Sandwich.” Loud and enthusiastic but caring and considerate as well, Barry makes for a solid partner in each appearance.

#7: Ethan Winters

Intended to act as an audience surrogate, Ethan marks a change in the series by being a regular guy forced to fight the infected. The protagonist of first-person entries “Resident Evil 7” and “Resident Evil Village,” Ethan’s adventures are credited with returning the franchise to its horror roots. Ethan doesn’t have world-saving plans like the other heroes, wanting only to rescue his wife and daughter. Starting out as an everyman whom audiences can see themselves as, Ethan develops into an action protagonist during “Resident Evil Village,” taking on terrifying villains for the sake of his family. His capability within gameplay also progresses from being relatively weak to learning combat skills for players to utilize. Ethan is the only protagonist with an extended arc from start to finish, achieving his mission of saving his wife and daughter by sacrificing himself.

#6: Carlos Olivera

Carlos wasn’t anything special in the original version of “Resident Evil 3,” but the game’s remake carved out a better characterization for him. He’s the wisecracking ally of Jill’s within the story, as they look to escape Raccoon City before its destruction. Carlos gradually wins Jill’s trust over the course of their adventure, proving himself to be a valuable ally when he saves her life from the infected. Carlos’ penchant for being too on the nose about the things he sees makes him someone who voices out what’s on players' minds. Although we don’t play as Carlos nearly as much as Jill, his sequences carry a thrilling atmosphere, with Carlos having to mow down hordes of the infected. Despite his one-off appearance, Carlos leaves a lasting impression through his mix of toughness and dedication.

#5: Ada Wong

The only thing that can be said with certainty about Ada is that she can’t be trusted. Ada’s campaigns generally fill in the gaps of each story, detailing how she got there and what the villains are planning. A spy who keeps crossing paths with Leon, Ada knows how to make anyone trust her through her charms and deception. She’s successfully used her skills to acquire samples of the G-virus sample in “Resident Evil 2” and the Plaga parasite in “Resident Evil 4,” using Leon’s connection with her as an advantage. The layers behind Ada’s personality are shown when she puts her mission aside to aid Leon, proving that being deceitful doesn’t fully define who she is. Better than being a stereotypical protagonist, Ada’s unpredictability and mysterious nature is perfect for keeping fans guessing over what she’s planning.

#4: Claire Redfield

The younger sister of Chris and one of the two protagonists in “Resident Evil 2,” Claire might just be the most selfless protagonist yet. Instantly befriending Leon in Raccoon City, Claire extends her affection to Sherry and keeps her safe from dangers like the Tyrant and Sherry’s infected father, William. Claire’s survival prowess is incredible considering she has no formal training, as her tenacity of spirit keeps her ticking. Claire doesn’t have weapons with extra impact, but she possesses greater agility and rapid-fire guns to get the job done. Unlike the other core heroes, Claire manages to retain her positive outlook even with the near-fatal experiences around the infected. Her maternal nature brings out the best in the likes of Sherry and Moira, empowering them to face the dangers around them under Claire’s guidance.

#3: Chris Redfield

Chris is arguably the main protagonist of the entire series, having appeared in most games by far. Chris can be a little hard to relate to because of his action hero attitude, such as punching boulders and destroying infected with extreme ease. However, Chris is still the face of the franchise, having faced main antagonists like Albert Wesker and heading the S.T.A.R.S. and BSAA anti-bioterrorism teams. He’s received the most powerful weapons yet, capable of handling rocket launchers to maximum effect. Chris has shined in both leading and supporting roles, as the character has been successfully adapted to each playable style of the “Resident Evil” series. Fans have followed him through the highs of taking down corporations like Umbrella to lows like his depression at losing his squad. Through it all, Chris has found ways to rise back up every time.

#2: Jill Valentine

One of the first action heroines in the gaming landscape, Jill is the leading figure to come out of the events in Raccoon City. She starts out as part of the S.T.A.R.S. team in the original entry before becoming the sole protagonist in “Resident Evil 3.” Jill is a good representation of the trauma a person would suffer from battling the infected, with her arc dealing with the protagonist summing up the courage to expose Umbrella’s creation of the viruses. Jill might be a bit rough around the edges, but it’s part of the change in character she goes through after suffering through betrayals and the mind-control by Alber Wesker. Her escape from the terrifying Nemesis is arguably the greatest accomplishment by a “Resident Evil” protagonist, as Jill embodies the fearlessness needed to defeat such monsters.

#1: Leon S. Kennedy

Leon arguably has the greatest character development of all the protagonists. From a naive rookie cop in “Resident Evil 2,” to a relentless special agent in “Resident Evil 4,” and finally into a cynical veteran in “Resident Evil 6,” Leon has been through it all. Fans get the complete experience with Leon at the helm, with the character forming firm friendships with the likes of Claire and engaging in a complex romance with Ada. Leon is also the complete package within the gameplay, having as much agility as he does in his use of weaponry. Despite his hellish experiences with the infected, Leon retains a snarky personality, which brings funny exchanges between him and the various characters he encounters. He also has the distinction of being the lead character in two of the series’ most popular games and fans associate him with the best “Resident Evil” has to offer.

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