The Resident Evil franchise has been around for a quarter of a century, so it’s had quite a bit of time to amass a cast of varied and colorful characters to flesh out the more than two decades worth of survival horror material the series has brought to game consoles. From ridiculously overpowered villains, grounded everymen just trying to stay alive, and action heroes who can’t stop spouting corny one-liners, Resident Evil has it all.
With so much variety in the cast, it can be hard to pick a favorite, especially when nearly every Resident Evil character has had their moment in the spotlight to do something scary, exciting, or hilarious. Still, there are a couple of familiar faces who stand out as being among the most beloved characters in the series.
10 Barry Burton
Barry might be a relatively minor character, with his major appearances being in the first Resident Evil and the spinoff Revelations 2, but he’s such a helpful guy that it’s impossible not to like him. In the original game, it seems like he always shows up exactly when he’s needed, preventing Jill from becoming a Jill sandwich, or giving her ammo and weapons that are particularly good at killing living things.
Plus, he’s the voice behind many of the original Resident Evil‘s most memorable lines, which immediately earns him a spot on this list. What would RE fandom discourse look like without endless references to the many iconic lines of all-around good guy Barry Burton?
9 Rebecca Chambers
Originally appearing as a side character in the original Resident Evil before starring in Resident Evil 0, Rebecca is a rookie medic attached to the S.T.A.R.S. squad sent to investigate the mansion incident who prefers medicine and research to battling nightmarish monsters.
Her more relaxed personality makes her stand out as one of the franchise’s few semi-pacifists, opting to fill out support roles more often than not. This has won her a fairly large following among fans—whodoesn’t appreciate having a dedicated healer around when zombies keep trying to chew on your neck?
8 Ethan Winters
Ethan Winters was introduced in Resident Evil VII as a sort of everyman character, intended to bring the franchise back to its horror roots since most of the established cast had already saved the world like eight times over, which makes it hard to believe they’d be scared by anything. Just like the cast of the earlier Resident Evil titles, Ethan is a regular guy trapped in a spooky situation from which he must escape.
Except, Ethan has now endured two seemingly unsurvivable horror situations and weathered extremely outrageous injuries in the process. He’s gunned down otherworldly horrors, had several appendages lopped off, and been attacked by his chainsaw-wielding wife, but none of that seems to slow the guy down.
7 Claire Redfield
Claire Redfield is the younger sister of longtime series protagonist Chris Redfield, and she has spent a good amount of her appearances in the franchise trying to track down her classically uncommunicative brother—seriously, the events of both Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica could have been avoided if Chris had just sent Claire a simple email.
Still, despite Claire’s relative lack of experience when it comes to the unending nightmarish viral outbreaks that plague the RE universe, she’s managed to carve out her own niche in the franchise by responding to said outbreaks in her own way.
6 Ada Wong
Series femme fatale Ada Wong is a mysterious spy with obscure motives. Occasionally working for Umbrella and occasionally pursuing her own goals, she regularly crosses paths with series mainstay Leon Kennedy, and their relationship is certainly an endearing one.
Take the original Resident Evil 2, for example. Leon’s constant confusion at Ada’s motivations and methods, combined with his naive desire to keep her safe, make him seem lovably dopey in comparison with her collected and aloof demeanor. It also helps that Ada can’t seem to stop doing cool things and wearing iconic outfits while zipping around on a grappling hook.
5 Jack Baker
Jack might not be one of the franchise’s more established villains, but he’s certainly one of the most memorable and a huge part of the reason why Resident Evil VII works so well. Gameplay-wise, he’s fairly similar to some of the other stalker-type enemies in the franchise like Nemesis or Mr. X, but the outlandish boss fights in which he takes part and his constant taunting of the player give him much more personality than his counterparts.
Jack is also responsible for filling out the camp factor that makes RE7 feel at home in the franchise at large; he’s full of goofy one-liners and references, while at the same time being terrifying to run into, which is basically the essence of Resident Evil in a nutshell.
4 Chris Redfield
Chris has a reputation as being a sort of straightforward, no-nonsense soldier sort. His unwavering commitment to eliminating the scourge of bioterrorism from the globe is what drives him to heroically pursue evildoers, kill his friends’ wives, and punch boulders.
However, Chris’ gruff exterior betrays some obsessive tendencies, often to the point of personal engagement. Anybody who keeps willingly throwing themselves into deadly bioweapons outbreaks can’t quite be all there in the head, which is an idea explored through Chris’ more complicated characterization in the franchise’s most recent release: Resident Evil Village.
3 Jill Valentine
There aren’t many Resident Evil characters who have been through as much as Jill has. She went from surviving the events of the original game to being pursued by the relentless Nemesis immediately afterward, later dealing with global biohazardous outbreaks for a living for the rest of her career.
Perhaps rivaled only by Chris in her commitment to placing herself in exceptionally dangerous zombie nightmare scenarios, Jill is a somewhat more relatable character because she’s more willing to let the mask slip. Consider her characterization in Resident Evil 3 and its remake; it’s clear she’s deeply affected by the experiences she keeps going through, but she doesn’t have a choice but to keep moving forward.
2 Albert Wesker
The most prominent antagonist in Resident Evil is without a doubt the maniacal Albert Wesker. This guy is the sort of madly evil mustache-twirler who’s so committed to being bad that it’s impossible not to love him. Making his first appearance as an undercover twist villain in the first Resident Evil, he went on to be a sort of mad scientist with world-conquering ambitions in Resident Evil 5.
From delivering iconic, hammy lines (“COMPLETE. GLOBAL. SATURATION.”) to dodging bullets matrix style and conveniently explaining his evil plans to anyone who wants to listen, Wesker is comically evil in the best possible way.
1 Leon Kennedy
As one of Resident Evil‘s earliest characters, Leon has been through a lot. He was nearly overwhelmed by a zombie apocalypse during his first day on the job for the Racoon City police department, which is a lot for anyone to have to deal with on their first day. Afterward, he started working for the US government and typically had to deal with a few more zombie apocalypse scenarios along the way.
Leon’s cool attitude and commitment to campy one-liners have made him a favorite among fans. His character development is admirable too; he went from barely staying alive in Resident Evil 2 to roundhousing crowds of bad guys in the face in Resident Evil 4, which is an inspiring example of the capacity for personal change we all have within us.
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About The Author
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Adam Beach is a recent university graduate based out of Austin, Texas who has spent the pandemic playing far too many video games and watching entirely too much anime. Now writing for ScreenRant, he has the opportunity to translate those experiences into his own content. In the past he has been a Model UN instructor, intern for the Government of Rwanda, and full-time student, all of which involved producing a wide range of written material. He also enjoys movies, philosophy, and Mongolian throat singing.