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The 8 Most Capable Female Survival Horror Protagonists

We’ve seen Isaac Clarke literally stomp out the threat of reanimated corpses in space.  And when Chris Redfield isn’t delivering body blows to boulders, we’ve seen him annihilate B.O.W. after B.O.W.  It’s clear the men of survival horror are skilled to the point of absurdity. When the world’s gone to hell, you know they’re going to make it through relatively unscathed. But what about the females of survival horror?  You know, the ones that aren’t damsels in distress, or perpetual escort missions?  How’s their ability when it comes to, not only surviving, but also actively handling any threat that comes their way?  Well, here are 8 female protagonists who are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves in the absence of male assistance.  To have been eligible for this list, a female protagonist must’ve been playable at some point in the series from which they originated.  And beware, some entries MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

8)  Clementine (The Walking Dead)


You don’t get to control Clementine until the last segment of the game, but still, you do play as her.  So let this one slide… for Clementine.  Near the end of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 1, the player is allowed to play as Clementine for a brief part that acts as a passing of the torch.  She doesn’t get to do much, but with Lee’s help, she’s basically taught the ins & outs of survival.  And a heartbreaking decision she may or may not have made proves she’s ready for the bleak world that lies ahead.

7)  Zoey (Left 4 Dead)


The choice between Zoey and Rochelle was a hard one.  They’re both amiable characters who support their allies and never take one person’s side over another’s.  They’re the only playable female survivors.  And they’re both completely capable of handling their own.  But Zoey shows some character development that, while hardening her attitude towards everyone else, makes her leadership material.  Besides, Rochelle seems to be preoccupied with making googly eyes at Francis.

6)  Heather Mason (Silent Hill)


Heather is the only playable female protagonist in the Silent Hill Series.  She’s vulnerable in the beginning, but quickly composes herself in the face of grotesque monsters.  When her dad is killed she grieves like any other daughter.  That doesn’t last long, however, as she tracks down her father’s assassin and kills it.  She’s not helpless like most females in the series; in matter of fact, she’s probably a better fighter than most of the male protagonists, especially James Sunderland.  Being able to navigate the foggy hell that is Silent Hill without blinking shows an admirable fearlessness to her character.  I often found myself more terrified than she was.

5)  Claire Redfield (Resident Evil)


It came down to either her or Rebecca, and I chose Claire because, after the events of Resident Evil 0, Rebecca was significantly scaled-down in terms of effectiveness.  However, Claire too has her faults, as she can be considered a Mary Sue due to her the leap in her fighting ability between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil: Code Veronica.  In RE2, she was a simple college student looking for her brother.  And later that year, she’s infiltrating a secure Umbrella facility and outrunning the automatic guns of military-grade helicopter.  But if you ignore that, she accomplishes a lot during her two games.  She fended off B.O.W.s  that decimated local and national law enforcement, and with the help of her brother, she stopped a viral experiment that was decades in the making.  What she’s up to now, however, is anyone’s guess.

4)  Regina (Dino Crisis)


This red-headed operative starred in two wildly different, but entertaining Dino Crisis games (1 & 2).  But then she was conspicuously absent from part 3.  Bad move Capcom, because Regina was one of the coolest female protagonists of the Playstation era.  Regina is a member of the Secret Operation Raid Team (S.O.R.T.).  She possesses a wide variety of skills and talents, and her no-nonsense attitude gets the job done.  Her training didn’t prepare her for stealth-killing dinosaurs, but she sure did rise to the occasion.  The dinosaurs, of course, proved to be a considerable threat, and anyone else would’ve folded under the pressure.  But her cool demeanor had her treating Velociraptors like targets in a shooting range.  In one of the first game’s many endings she threw a remote detonator in the mouth of a pursuing T-Rex, flipped the switch, and blew it back to prehistoric times.  Clever girl.

3)  Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)


The Master of Unlocking proves her worth in the RE franchise.  Sure, in the first game she has the easier scenario of the two protagonists, but she’s weaker and much slower than Chris (nothing sexist about that statement!), thus putting her at an disadvantage.   She somehow perseveres through the Spencer Mansion (it helps to have a versatile grenade launcher), and ends up being one of the only S.T.A.R.S. members left in Raccoon City.  There, she’s relentlessly chased by a towering, single-minded Tyrant known as Nemesis.  Though after a number of run ins, including getting infected by him, she finally gets the upper hand with a railgun and some potshots: “You want S.T.A.R.S., I’ll give you S.T.A.R.S.!”.  Jill is a veteran in a B.O.W.-infected world; she’s seen it all, she’s done it all.  She has the training and tact to survive even the most desperate of situations, and she survived Raccoon City all while wearing a sweater tied to her waist.

2)  Ellie (The Last of Us)


This foul-mouthed little firecracker is a lot tougher than she initially lets on.  Practically passed around like a burdensome child in the early half of The Last of Us, she finally gets to show her resolve in the latter half.  Once Joel is decommissioned, she has to scavenge for food and nurse him back to health.  And she improves her proficiently with a bow to the point where she’s virtually hunting deer with her eyes closed.  But she isn’t truly tested until she meets David, the pedophiliac leader of a group of cannibalistic hunters.  During her capture and subsequent escape, she displays an unyielding willpower that instantly cemented her as one of the strongest female characters in the history of gaming.  And that’s not a hyperbole; her final struggle with David was hard to watch, and I can only imagine how much harder it would be to endure.

1)  Ada Wong (Resident Evil)


Everyone’s favorite slit-dressed femme fatale stands out as the most skilled female in the RE franchise, and survival horror games in general (IMO, dammit!).  Whenever she’s involved, Leon’s like a dog with a bone.  And can you honestly blame him?  Despite his improved skill set,  she’s constantly several steps ahead of Leon and Co.  And she’s never short of rocket launchers to toss to them.  But what makes Ada a formidable opponent is her fighting ability.  When she fights, there’s a certain elegance to her style.  The way she takes down enemies seems so effortless.  She even takes down tyrants while ridiculing them for their predictability.  She’s always where you least expect her, and she never enters a situation without an escape plan.  Leon saves her from time to time, but you have to figure she’s just giving the guy a chance to feel useful.

Honorable Mention: Ashley Graham (Resident Evil)


The president’s daughters been kidnapped by Jack Krauser.  Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president’s daughter?  Well, actually, she doesn’t need rescuing.  She’s able to dodge plaga-infected suits of amour, duck underneath tables, and toss flaming lanterns with the best of them.  Her survival instincts are only matched by — I’m sorry — nope, I can’t do it.  I tried.


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