Top 10 JRPG Protagonists

Yuber here from Discord! It’s been a while since I have thought about this so I decided to make my personal list of protagonists and a short explanation of why! Since this is opinion based, I’d love hearing others opinions on their favorite characters!

(10) Lloyd Bannings – Trails Crossbell Arc

Courageous Cornball

Definitely not my normal choice as this list will show. I normally am not the biggest “knight of justice” style of character but Lloyd is just lovable from the start. At first his corny personality made me roll my eyes, but then as I realized more and more than this was a noted part of who he was, as characters started to poke fun at him and make inside jokes it became more and more enjoyable. Leaving Lloyd to take my 10 spot as our “Courageous Cornball”.

(9) Ashley Winchester – Wild Arms 2

Cowboy Knight

This poor guy does not get the love he deserves. Wild Arms was such an awesome game to me when I played it. I loved western scenarios as a kid so a JRPG with that feel was perfect. Take it up a notch with Wild Arms 2 and a protagonist that isn’t silent and man what a game. Ashley actually has a real relationship and it wasn’t with a party member. That’s such a refreshing change on what is normally in JRPGs. He communicates well with Marina rather than babbling on and not admitting his feelings. Deeper in the game you find out more about him than just makes him even more of a fantastic character. He makes the 9 spot as the “Cowboy Knight”.

(8) Yuri Lowel – Tales of Vesperia

Vigilante Hero

While not a full anti-hero, Yuri’s personality of being laid back and even keel is what really makes him different than many other protagonists. Let’s be honest, if you have played Tales of Vesperia you know the scene that everyone remembers Yuri for. He is dedicated to his friends and has qualities of a hero but also still has that zing that keeps him unique. Not much more needs to be said as this guy finds himself on many favorite lists. Yuri slides into number 8 as the “Vigilante Hero”.

(7) Estelle Bright – Trails in the Sky

Stregas Queen

Call me names that you wish, but for the longest time I just did not connect with female protagonists. I enjoyed female party members but something about them being the main character just sometimes made me feel disconnected. Probably was an error on my part. That all changed the moment I gave the Legend of Heroes series a try and met Estelle Bright. She felt so real and I just connected with the excited energy and excitement for adventure. Watching her grow stronger and confident while not losing her boisterous personality. If you befriend Estelle, you are friends for life, and that was a huge part of what pushed the story for Trails in the Sky. What she went through with Joshua and how she grew as a character was just brought out so many emotions. She easily demands being 7th on this list as the “Stregas Queen”.

(6) Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy VII

Confused Merc

Oh Cloud. This guy bounces all over this list throughout the ages but consistently stays in it. Through my teenage years he would have owned the number 1 spot with ease. This Ex-SOLDIER’s personality definitely is a go to favorite for many and well deserving. Awesome character design, very cool mysterious personality, and carries around a gigantic sword. What else could you ask for? The further the game goes though the more you start seeing his real personality shine through. Past events and mistaken identities start to form a character who can’t just run away from his problems or just fix it all himself.

Cloud is one of the few characters who truly has a connection with the ever famous antagonist Sephiroth, which is something you don’t actually see a lot. The remake fleshes him out even more, so maybe he will climb higher on this list again after Rebirth! Cloud easily limit breaks into spot 6 as the “Confused Merc”. 

(5) Kevin Graham – Trails in the Sky

Charming Priest

I have now 3 Trails characters on this list. Not shocking with how these games are huge on character building. I previously spoke about Lloyd and Estelle but this guy takes the cake on how to create a character. Kevin gets introduced in Trails in the Sky SC and right away he makes an impact on you. With his comedic side you think he will be one of this goofy JRPG characters. Then only to realize his true potential through SC when he takes the stage as the protagonist. In Trails 3rd, you find out that he is hiding a much deeper and heartbreaking past.

I love how real Kevin is and fleshed out, we see his mistakes and ways he himself thought was best to deal with his trauma, while also trying to support those around him. He was a character who always peaked my interest whenever he was on screen, and made the 3rd entry of Trails in the Sky one of my favorite games I’ve played. Kevin Graham, number 5… yes I did think I was creative giving him that spot being his ranking in the game… The “Charming Priest” (Obviously I can’t make a better nickname than Heretic Hunter, c’mon that just is awesome).

(4) Ryudo – Grandia 2

Smart Mouthed Geohound

Ryudo, Ryudo, how I do enjoy your banter. This guy right here gives off Yusuke Urameshi vibes from Yu Yu Hakusho. He is one of the most snarcastic (yes it’s a word, I have decided) characters out there. He speaks whatever is on his mind, and as a result he can come off quite rude to those around him. He is a mercenary who takes on jobs with his sidekick falcon. The banter between the two is gold. I don’t think I’ve laughed harder than at some of Ryudo’s one liners. He definitely softens up as the story goes and shows he will do what is necessary to protect his friends. Plus anyone who can grab waifu Millenia’s attention should rank high in my book. It also helps that his character design may be one of the coolest I’ve seen. Ryudo smack talks his way to spot 4 as “Smart Mouthed Geohound”.

(3) Haseo – .hack//G.U.

The Terror of Death

To understand my love for Haseo you’ll need to know my obsession in high school with the .hack series.

To do that I can’t really avoid some spoilers, so read below with caution.

Anime wasn’t cool back then to admit watching, so I had to find an older kid in school to purchase burned anime onto DVDs. With .hack//SIGN boy did I fall in love with the idea of being inside a video game. One of my other favorite characters was Sora, the player killer (PKers). That’s why Haseo really connects with me. He’s a guy who was also a PKer, but gets to experience what it feels like to be hunted. Later on, he again becomes a PKer as a player killer-killer.

His growth and emotion as a character was awesome to watch. I still get chills hearing him yell “OVAAAAAAN”. He is also another guy whose outfits are awesome and he gets different costumes throughout the game as well as a variety of weapons. Both his VA’s absolutely kill it too. As you can tell I can’t get enough of this guy, so I’ll just wrap it up as Haseo takes on number 3 using his own given nickname, “The Terror of Death”.

(2) Stocke – Radiant Historia

Future’s Greatest Hope

This guy is pretty fresh on my list, and I’m shocked myself that I have him this high already. I felt it was well deserved as he is such a great character. What can this guy not do? He has military training, as well as the most talented Special Intelligence officer at Alistel’s disposal. His personality fits these requirements as well, as he is strong and confident but also smart and thinks through decision making.

He knows what sacrifices need to be made at times. A lot of his precious decision making gets thrown on its head when he finds his choices are even more important than he originally had believed. He goes through a crazy time hopping adventure and the player gets to watch him use his power to not only save the future but try to keep his friends safe. I’ve raved about the last two entries having awesome character designs but Stocke takes the cake with his red outfit. What can I say, it pops. Stocke fully embraces the number 2 spot as “Future’s Greatest Hope”.

(1) Zidane Tribal – Final Fantasy IX

Flirtatious Thief

One thing Zidane lovers have in common is that we hated Final Fantasy IX when we first tried it. Not sure what it was but I remember playing a little bit and thinking “this Zidane guy isn’t as cool as Cloud”. Thankfully, I gave the game a fair try and not only is IX my favorite Final Fantasy but also Zidane will forever be my favorite JRPG protagonist. He has personality traits that just made it easy for me to connect with him quickly.

Zidane’s witty and sarcastic. Always tries to keep things light-hearted and stay away from any serious intimate discussions. Throughout the game you start to see someone who really really cares about their friends. One of the characters who changed him the most is Vivi. You got to see a side of Zidane that really felt for Vivi, and he always wanted to be there to cheer Vivi up. His banter with Steiner was always enjoyable and seeing his relationship grow with Dagger was something you were rooting for the whole time playing.

One of my favorite things about him was that even though he grew as a character, you also saw his personality traits stay throughout the entirety of the game. He didn’t suddenly lose his wit or humor. What he doesn’t have going for him is that outfit. Although he’s my number 1 on my list, he has probably the worst design out of the entire top 10. Thankfully he makes up for it with awesome weapons! Zidane wraps up everything I enjoy seeing in a main protagonist and that’s why he is my number 1, our favorite “Flirtatious Thief”!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Serenoa Wolffort – Triangle Strategy

If you haven’t played Triangle Strategy yet and you love tactical RPGs then I beg you to play it! It has a great gameplay and story. Serenoa holds such a strong sense of justice and leads while not being arrogant. His respect and growing love for Frederica leads to one of the best romances in a JRPG.

  • Ramza Belouve – Final Fantasy Tactics

Ramza is such a good character in the story of tactics. He stands by his morals and believes in the best of others. Tactics is in my top 10 RPGs easily. The reason why Ramza isn’t in my top for characters is only because sometimes the story outshines him a bit, as well as Delita’s character development. He still needs to be mentioned though as he is still a great protagonist.

  • Yuri Hyuga – Shadow Hearts

I’m not going to pretend or fake like I know Yuri. I haven’t played Shadow Hearts yet. But everything that people have told me about him and the game….I think I’m really gonna love him.

  • Fei Fong Wong – Xenogears

I love Fei. I really do. The only reason he is an honorable mention is because it’s been a looooong time since I played Xenogears. If I replay it again it’s possible he would appear on this list.

  • Stahn Aileron – Tales of Destiny

You cannot find a more main character “bro” like than our boy Stahn. Lovable and dumb as rocks, he truly is one of my favorite Tales characters. His greatest talent is oversleeping and it takes a frying pan to wake him up. I enjoyed watching a story with a protagonist that didn’t just have all the answers. At times Stahn needed to trust his sword to guide him….literally.

  • Tidus – Final Fantasy X

No, he is not only an honorable mention because of the infamous laughing scene. I feel like that was a really well done moment that got twisted into a meme making it lose its meaning. Loved watching his character development. His whiny attitude turns into a dedication that lives through till the end of the story, no matter what the cost.