Street Fighter Characters Ranked

After years of fireballs and uppercuts, we've decided to go hog wild on ranking all the Street Fighter characters from worst to best.

Street Fighter’s been part of video game culture—hell, pop culture—since…well, the second game. Nobody ever cared about the first game. Kind of sad, really. Capcom’s series has been reinvented many times over the last 30 years. With so many sequels and rehashes, the iconic cast of characters has clashed with the Marvel superheroes and even their SNK and Namco fighting game counterparts. They’ve had movies, animated adventures, lots of comics, and a really cool web series.

As the franchise continues to chug along with Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition and its constant DLC, I’ve decided to rank every character from worst to best. Hey, people seemed to like it when I did the same for Mortal Kombat. Only makes sense to try the World Warriors while I’m at it.

Of course, figuring out the guidelines was a bit tricky. At first, I was thinking of going with any fighter in a game with “Street Fighter” in the title. That way I could make jokes about Captain Sawada from Street Fighter: The Movie and the Shadaloo Cyborg from Street Fighter: The Interactive Movie. Then I realized that those qualifications would mean I’d have to include the cast of Street Fighter EX, and nuts to that! Sorry, but that cast is 80% terrible, and I really don’t want to have to talk about them.

Not you, Skullomania. You’re still my hero.

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Instead, all you need to qualify is to be a fighter in one of the canon Street Fighter games. That means Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter III, Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter V, and all their respective upgrades and updates.

As with the Mortal Kombat article, I’m ranking these based on style, storyline, and personal preference. Not over who has the better infinite combos, hitboxes, or whatever wins you tournaments. Also, depictions in other games and media reflect on my opinion, so while Sawada won’t make it in, Raul Julia’s M. Bison will certainly factor to his spot.

Now, the Mortal Kombat cast is completely scattershot in quality. In comparison, Street Fighter’s roster is a lot more solid on the whole, so realize that I’m very much a fan of most of the entries on the list. Keep that in mind when your favorite ends up in the late-30s or wherever.

Now let’s start with the worst of the worst…

78. LEE

First appearance: Street Fighter

When you try to figure out the worst Street Fighter character, you basically have to look to the first game and the cast members who never got revisited in any relevant way. While guys like Birdie, Adon, Sagat, Gen, and Eagle evolved and became more realized, a handful of opponents remained stuck in the past with nothing much to hang on to.

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Lee falls behind the most with me. He’s just so boring and looks like a dork. At least with the other Street Fighter 1 characters, I can imagine them being badass. Not with Lee. Just looking at him saps away at my creativity and will to be productive.

How funny that the very worst Street Fighter character shares the same name as the very best Tekken character.

Further Reading: The Forgotten Fighting Games of the ’90s

77. JOE

First appearance: Street Fighter

Joe is the most basic, generic character I’ve seen in a fighting game that isn’t Virtua Fighter. He’s just a shirtless guy in red pants who does nothing special outside of a jumping roundhouse kick. Every single enemy from Final Fight has a more interesting design than this man.

Yet while Lee’s blandness puts me to sleep, Joe’s generic design intrigues me. I kind of love it in an ironic way. Word is that Cody’s Alpha 3 redesign was originally going to be given to Joe, which certainly would’ve made this ranking different. Instead, Capcom’s stayed away from him and made him “that guy.”

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76. MIKE

First appearance: Street Fighter

Mike is baaaaasically Balrog, but not really. I mean, Balrog was obviously supposed to be him in Street Fighter II (as he’s called Mike Bison in Japan), but the naming switcheroo in America led to Capcom saying, “What? No. Officially, Mike and the boxer from Shadaloo are two different people!” They even made an inspired joke about it in Street Fighter V‘s arcade mode via Balrog’s “Street Fighter 1” ending.

That means we’re left with this throwaway black boxer guy from the U.S. who will never show up ever again. He’s worthless outside of having that sweet Mount Rushmore stage.

Further Reading: Street Fighter Story Timeline Explained

Street Fighter Characters - Kage

75. KAGE

First appearance: Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

Kage is an example of a character’s alter-ego becoming a separate entity completely — kind of like Nightmare from SoulCalibur or Bad Ash from Army of Darkness or those times when Banner and Hulk have been split apart. Kage ends up being Evil Ryu, only technically his own thing and not just Ryu in a bad mood. And he looks really, really stupid.

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As the living embodiment of Ryu’s rejected inner-darkness, Kage just…kind of starts fights with Ryu’s rivals until they tell him to piss off. Then Ryu just shrugs at him until he dissipates. Evil Ryu never did much for me to begin with and giving him his own body didn’t help. If anything, he makes me more annoyed that Capcom chose him over, say, Dan Hibiki for Street Fighter V. Or even someone who isn’t Ryu-based. We have enough of those as is.


First appearance: Street Fighter

While Retsu lacks the innate coolness of Geki, he’s at least got a shin up on the other Street Fighter 1 bozos. For one, those eyebrows. Those wonderful, wonderful eyebrows.

He also has ties with the Gouken side of the Street Fighter universe and has always seemed like he’s on the cusp of being something more than a one-hit never-was. Like the way Capcom had official art of him beating the crap out of Dan Hibiki back in the Alpha days. I kind of get why people keep clamoring for him to make a comeback. It feels like he actually could be someone worth mentioning if they gave him the chance. Instead, he’s just another forgotten relic.

Further Reading: 20 Characters Missing from Marvel vs. Capcom


First appearance: Capcom Fighting Jam (canceled)

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First appearance in a completed game: Capcom Fighting Evolution

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max

Hey, look. It’s a sore thumb.

Ingrid was originally created for Capcom Fighting Jam, which was never finished. Then they used her for Capcom Fighting Evolution, which was the laziest fighter Capcom ever made. Since they had her sprites done, they put her in Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max for PSP. They explained her to an extent as a higher power in the Street Fighter universe who created Psycho Power and wanted to go take care of Bison for stealing it from her.

Ingrid breaks the Street Fighter universe. She’s essentially the Phantom Stranger, only she’s a cosmic teenage girl because anime. It’s like, you can have the guys from Street Fighter take on Galactus, Sigma, Master Hand, etc., and it works in a goofy crossover situation. But if you were to canonize it, it would just feel off. Plus her insertion into the story really cheapens M. Bison.


First appearance: Street Fighter IV

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Listen, if you happen to know anything about me, you know I’m a big wrestling guy. Therefore, it says a lot that I have a luchador this low. Believe me, I was pumped when he was announced, but the spark quickly dimmed. The dude is annoying, and his flimsy gimmick of being a wandering chef who isn’t very good…isn’t very good. When I see he’s my next opponent and he’s leaping in with, “IT’S SUPER DYNAMIC COOKING TIME!” I can’t press the skip button fast enough.

As annoying and eye-rolling as he is, I will give him points for the Street Fighter comic where he’s shown to be an intense Rainbow Mika fanboy.

Further Reading: 25 Best Crossover Moments in Street Fighter History


First appearance: Super Street Fighter II

If he wasn’t in the most classic batch of Street Fighter games, Dee Jay would probably have gone the way of Joe and Mike. A kickboxer with a constant smile on his face, Dee Jay is all about rhythm and that’s about it. Despite being a guy based on dancing, he’s still somehow the most boring guy from the Street Fighter II games. He’s flat and they’ve yet to give him a storyline deeper than, “Dee Jay goes around fighting people and then happily dances to the rhythm.”

The first live-action Street Fighter movie improved Dee Jay by making him nothing like the game version.

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70. JULI

First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha 3

M. Bison’s Dolls are a pretty cool concept. He has his own set of buxom, young, brainwashed assassin women to do his dirty work. Not only is their very existence evil, but it’s even more diabolical when you realize that in case Bison dies, he’s using their bodies as hosts for his soul until his scientists can whip up a new clone body.

In theory, they’re great, but as playable characters, they leave a lot to be desired. They’re just lesser versions of Cammy with the foresight to wear leggings. Even with two of them playable in Street Fighter Alpha 3, there’s still the nagging feeling that some of the others would make for more interesting fighters.

Eventually, Capcom came to realize that with Ultra Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V.

Further Reading: 25 Best Fighting Game Guest Characters

69. JUNI

First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha 3

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So Juli and Juni are both pretty much the same, but Juni has actual storyline closure by getting to move on with her life. Juli got shoved into a T. Hawk storyline despite not being the Native American Doll. But Noembelu wasn’t playable, so they shoved a square peg into a round hole instead.

68. REMY

First appearance: Street Fighter III: Third Strike

Third Strike introduced Remy, a Guile-like replacement who is bitter and nobody really cares. His whole thing is that his father became a street fighter and wandered the globe, all while he and his sister were abandoned. Now he’s going around fighting people because he is mad and this I guess is his way of dealing with his anger.

They’ve never gotten into who his father is and it doesn’t appear to be Guile or Charlie, so we’re just left with an emo knockoff acting like a hypocrite.

Further Reading: 20 Best Altered Fighting Game Characters

Street Fighter Characters - Falke


First appearance: Street Fighter V

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Falke has a great design and her fighting style is a strong argument that Capcom really should have included Black Tom in its Marvel games. She just doesn’t introduce anything new the series, though. She’s yet another escaped M. Bison host body/Doll who really hates Shadaloo. She was established as part of Ed’s new Neo Shadaloo squad and getting her boring ass instead of the gorilla or whatever the dude with the weird hair about just felt like adding insult to injury. Sorry, but monotone Cammy just doesn’t do it for me.


First appearance: Super Street Fighter II

Added as part of Super Street Fighter II, T. Hawk is part of the mid-’90s fad of tossing in token Native American fighters (see also: Nightwolf, Chief Thunder, Wolf Hawkfield, um…Billy Two Moons?). He’s an acceptable alternative to Zangief with the sweet wind-up claw/chokeslam, but there’s a reason why he only shows up in the games intent on bringing all the early guys back (Alpha 3, Super Street Fighter IV). He’s just not that interesting. 

Interestingly enough, he tends to be the tallest guy on most rosters. Also, he looked like a total doofus when flying around in the cartoon.

Further Reading: The Forgotten Street Fighter/Mortal Kombat Crossover


First appearance: Street Fighter V

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Of the initial four new characters introduced in Street Fighter V, Laura is the worst. She has an interesting design and the introduction of Brazilian jujutsu is welcome. Her ability to make her body electric is also cool in a vacuum, but it is sort of odd how that’s just something Brazilians seem to do in the Street Fighter universe. When first introduced, she seemed like she had potential.

She instead turned out to be incredibly annoying with little to add to the roster. Her attributes appear to be that she’s Sean’s less-interesting sister. Even her time in the story mode is dedicated to loudly reminding us that she exists and then being immediately forgotten. She even talks up how she’s joining Ken whether he likes it or not, but then she appears in the background once and that’s it.


First appearance: Street Fighter III: Third Strike

If the Street Fighter III games didn’t look so damn good, Twelve would rank even lower. The T-1000 sperm creature is a wonder to look at, as Capcom animated the hell out of him…her…it. In a way, it’s the closest we’ll ever get to seeing Carnage in a Marvel fighting game, outside of that dumb “Red Venom” crap in Marvel vs. Capcom.

Despite being Urien’s mighty morphing power ranger, Twelve kinds of blends into the background of Street Fighter III: Third Strike. Not only does Twelve lack the dynamic personality of its prototype, Necro, but it also doesn’t help that Q trumps Twelve in the “creepy enigma weirdo” department.

I will say, Twelve’s use in the UDON comic is pretty baller. I shouldn’t really say what it is since it spoils a neat surprise.

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Further Reading: Revisiting ClayFighter, the Forgotten Fighting Game Series of the ’90s

63. GEKI

First appearance: Street Fighter

Of the five Street Fighter 1 characters who never went on to do anything else, Geki is the only one with unique enough of a design to stand out. Sure, he doesn’t really have much of a story because of the game he’s from, but Geki is a full-on ninja dude, and ninjas are super cool. Especially in the dawn of fighting games, seeing a guy decked out in all these ninja novelties and accessories makes “American punching guy in street clothes” look especially lame.

He also throws ninja stars, which only reminds me how odd it is that such a thing is rare in fighting games. Really, with all the ninjas out there, how many actual throwing star attacks are there? Not all that many.

Anyway, Geki’s topped off with the cool claw thing. Capcom decided they could reinvent the whole concept better in the sequel, meaning Geki fell to the wayside.

Street Fighter Characters - Abigail


First appearance: Final Fight

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First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter V

I respect the escalation of the big brute archetype. We went from Birdie to Zangief to T. Hawk to Hugo and, finally, we’re at Abigail, who is massive to the level of parody. Makes sense, considering his first appearance made him the king of the Andore types. I’m actually surprised it took this long for him to show up in a fighting game, especially when a Final Fight fighting game already exists.

Unfortunately, after all this time, Capcom couldn’t come up with anything more interesting for his story than, “He likes cars.” Yeah, that’s his entire deal. Cars. He digs them. Ah well. At least it’s fun punching people like a speed bag. Vroom vroom.

Further Reading: Street Fighter II’s Mystery Characters Finally Get Backstories

61. SETH

First appearance: Street Fighter IV

Yeah, of all the major villains in Street Fighter, Seth is easily the lamest. He brings some cool ideas to the table, but he just doesn’t compare to the likes of Sagat, Bison, Akuma, and Gill. Even with his unique “anatomically incorrect Dr. Manhattan with a yin-yang belly” design, he’s just a cover version of Bison, carrying out a similar plot through a Shadaloo offshoot.

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Seth’s main saving grace is his fighting style, making him a mix between Necro and Taskmaster. He steals the moves of world warriors, including some who aren’t even in the game to begin with. But more than that, he uses his sci-fi artificial body to get creative with it. Zangief’s spinning piledriver is awesome enough, but even more so when the victim is set up with an uppercut to the gut and a teleport catch.

Street Fighter Characters - Menat


First appearance: Street Fighter V

If Ed is the successor of M. Bison with a different personality, it’s fitting that we’d get a protégé for Rose with a different personality. She doesn’t play too much like Rose, but enough that they feel connected, which is a good thing. The last thing we need is a SoulCalibur V situation with our replacements.

Menat is more personable and upbeat than Rose’s gloom and doomsaying, which is kind of refreshing, but there isn’t much to her outside of that. It’s a nice change of pace to have a guide character who doesn’t act overly mature, but Menat’s going to need more to do than fortune telling to grow on me.

Further Reading: The Strange History of Street Fighter Comics

59. MAKI

First appearance: Final Fight 2

First appearance in a fighting game: Capcom vs. SNK 2

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max

Maki was introduced in Final Fight 2 as Guy’s pantsless replacement. When they brought her into the one-on-one world in Capcom vs. SNK 2, they actually gave her a more spunky personality and also some tonfas for the sake of differentiating her and making her more than Not-a-Guy Guy.

But then again, her early game appearances were all about the fact that she isn’t Guy in games that didn’t even have him. Unlike other obsessed characters, like Sakura and Rufus, Maki didn’t have much to hang on to. By the time they did put Guy and her together in a game (Alpha 3 Max), she basically double-downed on her obsession with being better than Guy while he simply couldn’t be bothered.

I’d like to see her return just to see Capcom give her some new direction.

58. YANG

First appearance: Street Fighter III

When they threw the baby out with the bathwater in Street Fighter III and made an almost entirely new cast, Yun and Yang came off as elevator music. With all these different outside-the-box ideas they had for the engine, making two sets of sprites and having them play exactly the same for the sake of giving someone two 2D skins was kind of half-baked and unnecessary.

They aren’t the worst couple of guys out there, and there are some aspects about playing them that I enjoy, but I never felt the need to see them again. When they were used as one of the big selling points of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, I just shrugged.

Further Reading: The Most Amazing Fighting Game Combos

57. YUN

First appearance: Street Fighter III

Yun gets some points for his Capcom vs SNK 2 and Alpha 3 Max depictions. At least Alpha 3 Max had some fun with the constantly reused ending images (ie. Bison and his base exploding) by claiming it was a cinematic reenactment of Yun and Yang taking down Shadaloo after Fei Long got them a movie contract. That amused me.


First appearance: Street Fighter III

Though gorgeously animated in her initial appearance, Elena’s design never caught on with me. I never found her that fun to play with and, “I want to be everybody’s friend!” always hit me as kind of lame.

I changed my tune a little bit with Ultra Street Fighter IV. According to her ending, her status as a completely likable person works to the extent that even Akuma himself genuinely likes her. A quick montage revealed a somewhat confused Akuma holding a cell phone for a selfie as Elena hugged him.

That’s impressive.

Further Reading: Guilty Gear Characters Ranked


First appearance: Street Fighter IV

Viper is like a collection of ideas that don’t really come together. She’s a secret agent. She has a daughter. She has gadgets. She has the worst hair in the series. Viper’s like a Frankenstein’s monster of random concepts with little holding her together, making her easy to gloss over in terms of the Street Fighter IV cast.

Her playstyle kind of reminds me of Rock Howard from Garou: Mark of the Wolves (I even saw a mod online that dresses her in his outfit, likely for the same reason) and I can’t hate something that reminds me of that guy.

There’s also that part in the Ties That Bind anime movie where she grabs Cammy by the boob and electrocutes her. That’s just sexy as hel—wrong. I meant to say that’s just wrong.


First appearance: Final Fight

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter Alpha

I’m a bit torn on this guy. When he was introduced in Final Fight, he was the epitome of badass. A huge, armored behemoth with two katanas that you had to fight in an underground wrestling ring. If anyone was asking for an expansion, it’s that guy!

And so he showed up in the Alpha games as a dorky white guy pretending to be Japanese. I mean…it’s funny, don’t get me wrong. I love his bigass truck, too. I just feel that it wasn’t the best way to answer his mystique.

Further Reading: Mortal Kombat Characters Ranked 


First appearance: Street Fighter III: Third Strike

Makoto has this great, unique, hard-hitting fighting style that involves crotch-punching, and I get how that makes her something of a fan-favorite. Otherwise, she seems kind of tame compared to the rest of the Third Strike cast. In a world of mountain-sized wrestlers, thong elementals, mysterious cyborgs, super-polite pugilists, ancient hermits, electric rubber men, and sperm creatures, you have…a girl in a karate gi.

Her basic storyline is kind of all right, but at the end of the day, she’s like Dan played straight(er), and that doesn’t measure up.


First appearance: Street Fighter II

And now we’ve hit the original twelve from Street Fighter II. Dhalsim is a novelty that never seemed as fun to play as he should have been. A stretchy guy who spits fire sounds like a good time, but he was always too floaty for my taste. He’s also just a bargain basement wise man who never really does much with it outside of mentoring Ryu in Street Fighter II V and helping Sagat regain his true self in the UDON comic series.

I did rather like Dhalsim’s partnership with Sagat in Street Fighter X Tekken, where their devotion to protecting children united them despite their very different demeanors.

Anyway, I can’t hate on Dhalsim too much. The guy once invited Shuma-Gorath to his home for a dinner date.

Further Reading: The Strange History of Tekken’s Mishima Family

51. ABEL

First appearance: Street Fighter IV

As one of the main characters of Street Fighter IV, I found Abel lacking because his character is “Male Cammy” without the benefit of them ever calling it out. The only real reference to it is the UDON series where the two of them work together as the paramilitary team Delta Blue (that’s a neat touch. I like that). But seriously, he’s a blond clone doll created to be a potential Bison host body who got amnesia and ended up being adopted by some soldiers. He’s freaking Cammy!

I wasn’t too sold on Abel until seeing him shine in Street Fighter X Tekken. As Guile’s partner, we really got to see Abel at his best, playing the role of the doofy dreamer compared to Guile’s by-the-book, no-nonsense approach. The payoff in their ending, especially Guile’s insistence that he never work alongside anyone ever again, justifies Abel’s existence.


First appearance: Street Fighter

At first, Eagle was created as an homage to Robert Baker’s character in Fist of Fury. Between that and his snazzy escrima sticks, he definitely stuck out among the other original Street Fighter characters. When it came time to update him, they decided to double-down by basing him on Freddy Mercury in ways. So Eagle kind of rules.

Jesus, I want to rank him higher and all, but unfortunately, Capcom hasn’t given him much to do. His appearance in Alpha 3 Max didn’t have much going for it other than having him shame Sagat for slumming it in Shadaloo. And that came from a dandy who works as a bar bouncer! That’s harsh.

Further Reading: Why Tattoo Assassins Is the Strangest Mortal Kombat Knockoff Ever


First appearance: Street Fighter II

Honda is just such a likable guy. On one hand, he’s this beloved, knowledgeable sumo master, followed by devoted students. On the other hand, he’s also one of those guys who laughs way too hard while smacking you on the back and dislocating your shoulder. That scene of him in the animated movie where he hands Ryu some cash and calls him brother before laughing loudly sticks in my head because, really, having a stranger do that to you would make your week at least. No wonder Ryu hangs out with him for the rest of the movie. I know I would!

As a big fish in the small pond that is sumo (and kind of panicky that the world doesn’t get sumo), Honda never had much going on until Capcom started having him play off of other loud, proud wrestlers. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a Honda/Hakan team in Street Fighter X Tekken. We need those two playing passive-aggressive buddies more often.

Honda’s also a trailblazer for the series. Sure, Sakura got her fireballs and other attacks from Ryu, but we know who inspired her to start doing red underwear upskirts.


First appearance: Street Fighter III: New Generation

First appearance (fighter): Street Fighter V

I’m stuck in the middle when it comes to Kolin. She was originally a background character in Street Fighter III, showing up only in Gill’s intro and maybe an ending or two, but she had a striking look. Then years later, they brought her back and gave her a more bland design.

As Charlie’s handler in Street Fighter V, she called herself Helen and the fact that she was that minor Street Fighter III character was treated as a twist…but was it really that? The story made it very apparent that she was working for Gill the very moment Urien showed up. You don’t need to go all cloak and dagger about it.

Her fighting style feels original and it makes sense that she’d have a taste of his ice powers. It also ties into how hard they lean into her whole Soviet identity. Even Zangief thinks it’s a bit much.

Further Reading: The Legacy of Marvel vs. Capcom


First appearance: Super Street Fighter II

Having a Bruce Lee clone in a fighting game is like having a Starbucks in your mall. It’s pretty much expected. Fei Long lacks originality, but I respect the fact that he’s self-aware. Sure, he has all of Bruce’s mannerisms, looks like him, dresses like him, makes the same high-pitched noises, stars in movies, and so on, but the kicker is that Fei Long knows that he’s a rip-off.

Bruce Lee is a dude who existed in the Street Fighter universe. Fei Long just honors him by being basically the same guy. That raises the question of whether or not the Street Fighter version of Bruce Lee could do that spinning fire kick move. And does this mean Eagle’s aware that he’s derivative of a movie character?


First appearance: Street Fighter III

The introduction of Ken’s pupil in Street Fighter III answers a long-lasting question: Is it possible that there’s someone worse than Dan?

Sean takes up the mantle of “the guy that sucks,” but it’s played up in a way that works. Much like Dan, he turns the classic Ryu/Ken Ansatsuken style into his own personal thing, but while Dan just half-asses it and considers himself a master, Sean goes for style points and doesn’t understand why he isn’t succeeding. The kid does a Shoryuken with two fists like that will make it better. He’s overcompensating for his greenness.

In the end, Dan has plateaued and has mastered the little that he’s worth. Sean is still young and might one day reach the point of at least getting past tournament prelims.

Further Reading: The Strange History of Tekken Comics


First appearance: Final Fight

First appearance in a fighting game: Final Fight Revenge

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter X Tekken

First appearance in Street Fighter (canon): Ultra Street Fighter IV

Poison is kind of a touchy subject. Originally, in the first Final Fight game, Poison was labeled trans because it was the easiest way to explain why the game allowed you to beat up women. I’m going to call a spade a spade here and say that’s pretty fucked up.

Capcom actually did right by not making that a punchline. Poison continued to show up in stuff, and they let her have an identity that stepped away from all of that. She suddenly became someone who moved on from a life of crime for the sake of being a scummy wrestler/wrestling promoter/manager.

Despite occasionally getting to be playable in fighting games, Poison is still little more than an accessory to Hugo. Still, her Ultra Street Fighter IV ending where she makes a makeup-wearing rock band out of Hugo, Ryu, Ken, Cody, Guy, and Rolento is the best thing.

Having Rolento on drums is just plain inspired.

44. ROSE

First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha

Rose begins as this interesting, tragic, and mysterious character. This alluring mystic with a unique set of attacks who has ties into Bison’s past in a time when we know nothing about the series’ main villain. Then after a while,- we finally find out that she’s the good part of what was once Bison’s soul. As her own being, she dedicates herself to destroying Bison and protecting the world, even knowing that being successful will mean having to die herself.

She’s set up to fail because Alpha is a prequel and we know Bison exists afterward. She even comes close to taking Bison out for good, but with Guy saving her life, it allows Bison to live on. It’s a bummer, but a fitting end.

Due to her popularity and Capcom’s refusal to kill Bison, Rose returns with her post-Alpha events kind of glossed over. She’s now basically running in place, all about stopping Bison, but being too unimportant in the big picture to be responsible.

Further Reading: Tekken Characters Ranked


First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha 3

Zangief represents the pinnacle of athleticism and the human spirit. Hugo represents using power to garner fame, fortune, and respect. El Fuerte represents…let’s not talk about him anymore. R. Mika, on the other hand, is all about the pageantry of wrestling. While being an expert joshi wrestler on the rise, she’s still infatuated with the entertainment aspect of wrestling and God bless her for it.

It’s almost like shoving all the wrestling tropes on her protects Zangief from being a parody of himself. It even plays out like that in the UDON series where Zangief is confused at Mika’s belief that wrestling is about chair shots, punches to the nuts, and cutting promos. Not, you know, tests of strength and will in the name of victory.

While seeing her bust out Stone Cold Stunners is good fun, the way they’ve transformed her into a sexualized rodeo clown does get kind of embarrassing at times. Especially the whole “my most powerful move is when me and my friend sandwich your head between our bare asses” thing. You are guaranteed to have family members randomly walk into the room while that one’s happening.


First appearance: Street Fighter II

Blanka’s height on this list mostly comes from his first appearance in Street Fighter II. If you were a kid when that game came out, Blanka had to be one of the first three fighters you picked. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s this green-skinned beast man with 80s rock hair and the ability to roll like a ball and cover himself with electricity. And you know what? They barely even explained any of that!

Blanka just is and, damn it, we accepted him! It was enough to get him major roles in the American movie and cartoon series. 

Then Capcom rested on using Blanka for a while. It wasn’t until Alpha 3 that he returned and they didn’t really give him much new to do, other than his amusing friendship with Dan and Sakura. I feel that by that point, there were better oddball designs out there. His fixture as the token freak didn’t carry the same weight.

Further Reading: King of Fighters Characters Ranked

41. FANG

First appearance: Street Fighter V

As a new character, FANG is just as annoying as Laura Matsuda, but we’re at least meant to want to see him get punched in the face. Filling in the role of Bison’s second-in-command after Sagat decided he was too cool for Shadaloo, FANG is the central villain of Street Fighter V, playing up the plot while Bison gets to ominously step off to the side. He strikes just the right balance of dorky and genuine threat, which works out since both of those things make you want to see him get a foot lodged in his esophagus.

FANG brings some real originality to the series in both play style and as an obnoxious, dancing mad scientist. I’m not going to petition for him to show up in future installments or the next “Capcom Versus” game, but I like that he’s around.


First appearance: Street Fighter II (manga)

First appearance in Street Fighter game: Street Fighter Alpha

First appearance in Street Fighter (playable): Street Fighter IV

Gouken becoming a playable character in Street Fighter IV sort of hurts Akuma’s standing as a badass antagonist, but he still makes for a good inclusion. He’s like the antithesis of Dan and Sean in that his fighting style differentiates itself from Ryu, Ken, and Akuma, but in a way that makes him appear more masterful. More power and less wasted movement.

He also gets props for Akira Koieyama’s portrayal of him in Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist. One of the highlights, as far as I’m concerned.

Further Reading: Are Fighting Games Too Difficult?

39. GILL

First appearance: Street Fighter III

When it came time to bring in a new boss character for Street Fighter III, they had a tall order to follow M. Bison, but I think they succeeded with Gill. Bison is cartoonishly evil and Gill is just…cartoonish. He’s more of a religious zealot than a dictator, and his antagonistic actions come more from being a well-meaning and insane narcissist than being straight-up sinister.

At the time, the way Gill was implemented into the game’s engine was kind of revolutionary. Instead of being like Sagat, whose eye patch would switch sides when he turned around, Gill’s two-toned appearance would switch, and it would even affect his attacks. With control over fire, ice, and resurrection, the guy kind of deserves to be so full of himself.

I always liked his pre-fight line because I’ve yet to see full confirmation on whether he’s saying, “The mark of my deity shall scar thy DNA,” or, “The mark of my dignity shall scar thy DNA.” They’re both equally badass and nonsensically batshit.


First appearance: Street Fighter III

Necro seems like a 90s X-Men character who somehow wandered into the series. He’s a mix between Blanka and Dhalsim in terms of being an electric, bald, stretchy freak of a man, but really lends himself well to Street Fighter III’s animation style. I also feel that he uses the gimmick better than the other two. Not only does he do more with the shock abilities, but his stretchy stuff is crazier and more dynamic than just “punch really far.”

He exudes personality as well, coming off as a well-meaning misfit with a chip on his shoulder, constantly accompanied by a creepy girl with bags under her eyes. If anything, Necro shows off that no matter how righteous Gill sees himself, he’s still a straight-up supervillain.

Further Reading: The Characters That Didn’t Make It into Street Fighter 5

37. GEN

First appearance: Street Fighter

Another Street Fighter 1 original, Gen found a new life as Akuma’s rival. Sure, Akuma’s all about turning Ryu into a killing machine so he’ll have someone to challenge him, but somewhere out there has to be somebody who is worthy and capable of killing Akuma in a fight. Turns out, Gen is that man.

It helps that his assassin style is completely different from the whole fireball/uppercut situation that engulfs Akuma’s side of the Street Fighter world. It makes their rivalry seem a bit more fresh.

Gen is a killer on his last legs, with nothing left to look forward to. Despite his efforts to win, he mainly searches for Akuma for the sake of getting one hell of a suicide. Going out in a blaze of glory is a better way out than succumbing to illness. He can either lose fulfilled or win and be empty.

That whole thing is cheapened a bit by the fact that he’s still around in Street Fighter IV, but his resolve to stay alive just so he can see how the Ryu/Akuma stuff plays out in the end is pretty rocking.


First appearance: Street Fighter III

The energetic ninja girl is too fun not to like. Ibuki has to balance a life of ninja school, regular education, missions, fighting tournaments, working under Karin, and checking out hot guys. And she has a raccoon because why not.

She’s a blast to play as, and while she lacks Geki’s throwing stars, her kunai knives are a decent replacement. Plus she has that slick slide into neck snap attack.

Her finest moment comes in Street Fighter X Tekken, where she acts as the straight woman by being forced to work for Rolento. Someone needs to call him out on being a nut, even if he won’t listen.

Further Reading: 20 Underrated NES Games

35. ORO

First appearance: Street Fighter III

Not every super-powerful character needs to be an end boss or space goddess or whatever. Oro is played as the new Gouken or maybe Gen, while distanced from all the Akuma drama. The most Oro and Akuma have is a passing acknowledgment of respect, because Akuma knows he’s not going to get any kind of deathmatch out of this old man.

He’s basically the Yoda of Street Fighter. Small, wrinkly, lives in the wilderness, is kind of off his rocker, etc. But he’s also a totally wise mentor character who can mess you up if he really wants to. The gimmick that he’s only “playable character level” because he’s willingly handicapping himself by using one arm is what makes him so rad.


First appearance: Street Fighter III: Second Impact

Even though Gill is a fresh take on the whole end boss thing, it’s good to have Urien around just to get past all the cult nonsense. More than the guys in Shadaloo, his status as a plotting underling makes you question who the real main villain is because he feels real deal enough to usurp his brother when the time is right.

It’s rather impressive how they were able to take a head-swap and make him seem so completely different. Yes, Urien and Gill share moves, but Urien still comes off as a totally separate fighter with his own tricks (namely his Aegis Reflector game). Instead of having control over fire and ice, Urien’s got a body of iron with control over electricity. While Gill parades himself in robes because he takes himself too seriously, Urien’s off to the side in a three-piece suit. Urien knows what’s up.

Further Reading: 25 Underrated SNES Games


First appearance: Street Fighter IV

Rufus is an obnoxious delight. A roly-poly motormouth with a hate-on for Ken Masters, while Ken just kind of shrugs and goes his way. He’s overly delusional in the sense that his appearance and actions are based on what HE believes to be cool, but he’s something of a success in the fighting tournaments and he has a lady who adores him, so good on him.

He really came into his own in the Tekken crossover. Not only because his rival happens to be Bob, the man who looks like a rotund Ken Masters (perfect), but because of his newfound bromance with Zangief. They grow to become buddies over time, and their ending is both hilarious and surprisingly inspiring (if you get to the post-credits narration).

32. ED

First appearance: Street Fighter IV

First appearance (fighter): Street Fighter V

Street Fighter IV’s story is weak as all get-out, but Capcom really made it worth something by introducing Ed. Yet another Shadaloo clone experiment, Ed essentially became the series’ Rock Howard, only instead of his father figure being a heroic vigilante, he’s a loudmouth criminal consumed by endless greed. Even then, the Balrog/Ed relationship really works and leads to a shockingly emotional moment when the two go their separate ways.

Ed’s new deal in Street Fighter V is the creation of Neo Shadaloo, which at this point is morally ambiguous. Not sure where that’s supposed to lead to, but I’m all for seeing more of Ed’s Psycho Power pugilism.

Further Reading: 25 Best Game Boy Advance Games

31. GUY

First appearance: Final Fight

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter Alpha

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Guy is his appearance in the Street Fighter Alpha manga where his presence is regarded by onlookers and the police as if Batman showed up. And he’s just a dude in an orange vest and ninja pants with Nikes on. Guy just exudes cool.

The fact that he was omitted from the original SNES Final Fight gives his appearance in Alpha 1 (alongside Sodom, giving us the first true crossover between franchises) more emphasis. And being that he’s such a blast to play as, I’m not even mad that Mike Haggar never got a spot in a Street Fighter game.

Okay, maybe I’m a little annoyed.


First appearance: Street Fighter

Birdie rides the fine line of cool and a total mess. He’s like the evil version of Jeffrey Lebowski in a way. He’s shown to be kind of a wild card with the way he’s introduced in the Alpha series as a Shadaloo hopeful. While not exactly bright, he’s still head and shoulders above Balrog and definitely more ambitious in overthrowing Bison.

Outside of his kickass Alpha redesign (still pissed none of the Capcom vs. SNK crossovers had Birdie interact with Chang Koehan), the thing that really got me on board with Birdie is his depiction in the Alpha manga. It’s said that after losing to Ryu in the first game, Ryu was really supportive and appreciative of their fight, and it meant a lot to Birdie. After that, Birdie had Ryu tag along with him in criminal matters. To Birdie, this was a genuine act of friendship. Hell, that little development made me like both characters a lot more. It works out that he’s recently become more of a good guy, even if driven by gluttony.

The unlikely friendship is even played up in the Street Fighter 1 path in Street Fighter V‘s arcade mode, where after their fight, Birdie is shown befriending Ryu and treats the puny hobo to a massive fast food meal.

In conclusion, if you’ve never thrown around an opponent by strangling them with chains while growling that they should go to Hell, then you haven’t lived.

Further Reading: 20 Underrated 3DS Games


First appearance: Street Fighter V

Necalli is what happens when a wrestling promotion takes a can’t-miss prospect and proceeds to make him look like a punk through constant losses, damaging the brand. Necalli is Ryback or 2001 Diamond Dallas Page.

Basically, Necalli came out looking like the new-age Akuma. He’s this hardcore Saiyan Wolverine who looks like he was raised by wolves and then proceeded to eat said wolves. His story is that he’s this mysterious warrior god made of magic mud who shows up during times of global crisis to seek out fighters, overpower them, and eat their souls. He’s metal as fuck.

Therein lies the problem, since it’s not like he can actually devour the souls of his opponents outside of non-canon win poses. He spends the entirety of Street Fighter V’s story mode getting chumped again and again. Instead of being this nightmare made of pure doom, he’s just a pest. The only guy who gets bested by him is Ryu, who’s immediately bailed out by Dhalsim. Then Ryu beats up Necalli later on anyway.

At least have him feast on Joe or Lee or something.


First appearance: Street Fighter II

Yep. Here come the angry comments.

Look, I get it. Chun-Li is important. She’s the godmother of fighting games. The one all other fighting game women are measured against. Spinning Bird Kick and all that jazz. Bouncing off heads like Mario. I know, I know.

I just don’t think she’s THAT great. Not top ten great at least. There are better female characters on the roster. Hell, while her basic story of being an Interpol agent obsessed with taking down the man who killed her father is totally solid, it doesn’t even compare when Guile is introduced in the same game. Guile’s out for the same amount of revenge, but he has actual issues to work through and is straight-up more compelling.

Besides, have you SEEN that Legend of Chun-Li movie? Can you really blame me?

Further Reading: How Arcades Are Making a Comeback


First appearance: Super Street Fighter IV

Yes, Hakan is a spot higher than Chun-Li. Come at me, bro.

Eh, who am I kidding? You already clicked the corner X halfway into reading that last entry.

It doesn’t matter to me that Hakan doesn’t have some kind of major story arc or important role in the grand scheme of things. Hakan is the bee’s knees. The moment this joyful, maroon man showed up in a trailer to zestfully shill Turkish wrestling and randomly talk about how much he loves his daughters, I had a serious, “Where have you been all my life?!” moment.

The man’s entire fighting style is based on what happens when you hold a wet bar of soap too hard. How can anyone hate this guy? For real, including him in the Street Fighter X GI Joe comic became the ultimate selling point. He even beat up Roadblock!


First appearance: Final Fight

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter Alpha 2

Remember that stuff I said about Geki and ninja throwing stars? The same goes for hand grenades. That’s a weapon that doesn’t get used enough in fighting games. Thank God we have Rolento Schugerg to fulfill that quota.

Rolento is kind of a low-level Bison who is less evil and more straight-up crazy. He wants to rule the world through military takeover but in the name of the greater good. Rolento oppose Bison because he thinks he goes too far, but he’s still out of his mind and completely dangerous.

If it wasn’t for Rolento missing from the SNES Final Fight, I would’ve wanted him in Street Fighter way earlier. His bag-of-tricks military fighting style lends itself well to the engine, while making him incredibly unique.

Further Reading: 25 Best Japanese Games Not Available in the US


First appearance: Street Fighter III

Part of the Street Fighter III overhaul was about introducing a checklist of new characters who scratched an old itch. There’s the giant wrestler, the stretchy guy, the karate guy who sucks, and so on. With the token boxer, they decided to go the complete opposite direction of Balrog.

Dudley is suave and refined. He’s speed and precision over pure power and hardheaded anger. Politeness over violent hatred. He’s everything Balrog isn’t, except equally exceptional with his two fists.

The man oozes style in everything he does, whether it’s before, during, or after the fight. Like draping his coat over his shoulders while calling his fallen enemy “gutter trash.” Dudley simply is the man.


First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha 3

First appearance (fighter): Ultra Street Fighter IV

Decapre started off as a teaser of a character when introduced in Alpha 3. While all the non-Cammy Dolls were dull as all get-out, Decapre was the interesting one that we wanted to know more about. She looked like a cross between Cammy and Vega, with the insinuation that there was nothing pretty under that facemask.

Introduced as playable in Ultra Street Fighter IV, Decapre appeared to be more than just an expected Cammy clone. At least in her playstyle. In terms of story, that’s sort of what she was, but played up in a way that’s kind of haunting and heartbreaking.

In her flashbacks, we’d see memories of a young Cammy comforting her and telling her that everything would be all right. You’d expect Decapre to meet with Cammy in the battlefield, remember their bond, and then move on. No, not quite.

Decapre spent her life in pain, being used as nothing more than a weapon. Her existence is torture. When she does see Cammy, all she remembers is her comforting words of, “Everything will be all right.” That was a lie. Cammy is a liar and Decapre refuses to forgive her for it. That’s messed up.

Further Reading: 25 Underrated Video Game Soundtracks

Street Fighter Characters - Zeku

23. ZEKU

First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha 2

First appearance (fighter): Street Fighter V

Master characters usually tend to be shallow if the story goes on long enough. It’s like that Yoda/Luke scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi says: the tragedy of being a good master is that you eventually get left in the dust or you’re a failure. Even with their experience, they’re eventually left obsolete and old. Someone like Gouken is better off dead than a supporting character.

Zeku was first introduced in Guy’s Alpha 2 ending as a master who was about to be rendered obsolete. He had a promising design, but what would Capcom do when it came time to flesh him out? The studio actually did a great job making his “retirement” the first step in a new direction. He started evolving his ninja style into something new – including the ability to briefly become younger – all while trying to find a way to thrive in an ever-changing world. While Street Fighter V didn’t have him outright find his place, it did give us a fantastic twist.

After losing his status as Bushin master, Zeku became an origin for Strider, presumably with the help of Karin’s resources. A Street Fighter character who is a spin-off of a Final Fight character ends up linking that whole continuity to yet another Capcom series. Sweet.


First appearance: Street Fighter II

Hell yeah, Red Cyclone! He’s a man who once wrestled a grizzly bear for the sake of a training exercise, went for a piledriver, got caught up in a tornado, and then decided afterward, “That’s my new move from now on.”

The powerhouse is fearsome enough that two movies mistakenly made him a villain, but at the end of the day, he’s this smiling, aloof guy who wants to smash your head into the ground in the name of friendly competition and maybe to prove how great his country is. Now in Street Fighter V‘s story mode, he is able to fight off enemies by standing there and mildly flexing while shouting, “MUSCLES!”

I always had trouble landing his moves as a kid, but being able to pull off the spinning piledriver was always a rewarding experience, both in terms of the damage dealt and seeing it in action.

Further Reading: 50 Underrated Multiplayer Games

21. Q

First appearance: Street Fighter III: Third Strike (or Street Fighter II if you believe in conspiracies)

I’ll say this about Capcom, they sure know how to draw out a mystery. Q appeared in Street Fighter III: Third Strike as a gigantic question mark, and in two decades, they haven’t given us much to go with on what he’s really all about.

But that’s okay because Q is more than just an enigma. He’s also a creepy, menacing, hard-hitting tank not to be messed with. There are all these weird tics in his attacks, movements, and actions that make him easy to be enthralled with, even if we may never find out who or what he’s supposed to be.

For real, Capcom needs to put this guy in a new game already. At least they gave us G to tide us over.


First appearance: Street Fighter

Welllll, if you weren’t mad at me for Chun-Li, you’re probably mad at me now. That’s not to say I don’t dig Ken. He’s reached the point of the list where I’m mostly dishing out compliments. I just don’t find him as necessary as the other big main character in the series. It always kind of seems like he’s there for the sake of being there, even when he’s not all that relevant anymore.

The whole Ryu/Ken rivalry was well and good in the beginning, but after a while, it became pretty apparent that Ryu’s the superior who dedicates his every waking moment to fighting, while Ken’s a weekend warrior who’s all but settled down. In terms of Ryu’s rivals, Ken’s third place at best.

That said, he’s still a blast to play after all these years, and he does keep Ryu grounded as something more than an introspective fighting robot of a man.

Further Reading: 60 Underrated PS1 Games


First appearance: Street Fighter II (unofficially Street Fighter)

Skeletor needs his Beast Man. Bison needs his Balrog.

Balrog is the dumbest guy working in Shadaloo, but that doesn’t stop him from being vicious and 100% dangerous. Fighting dirty and without any kicks whatsoever, nearly every landed punch hits like a Greyhound. Catching your opponent with a dashing uppercut or straight punch to the skull is always satisfying.

Before Street Fighter IV retconned stuff, one of my favorite pieces of story development was the reason why Shadaloo was gone as of Street Fighter III. Bison was destroyed, Sagat was long gone, Vega went off to do his own thing, and that left Balrog to take over the reins of the organization. Then his leadership sunk them within several months…and he couldn’t grasp what went wrong.

Now he has a different story thread where he’s become a father figure to his psychic sidekick Ed. Wouldn’t mind seeing some follow-up on that in a later game.


First appearance: Street Fighter II

The upper military brass asked Guile to get a regulation haircut and he refused, so they compromised into letting him just shave his eyebrows.

Ryu has to go fight Akuma, but defeating him might cost him his soul. It’s really on the nose because he means it will literally turn him into a senseless killing machine. Written before that, Guile also had to go take down Bison, but doing so might cost him his soul in the sense that he was completely throwing away everything positive in his life for the sake of obsession.

It’s why his ending in Street Fighter II is one of the best video game endings of all time, and they don’t have to threaten us with giving Guile glowing red eyes to get the point across.

Plus whoever came up with the idea of the Sonic Boom deserves a raise.

Further Reading: 50 Underrated PS2 Games


First appearance: Super Street Fighter IV

Juri is a foil for Chun-Li and is way more interesting. Her father was also taken out by Shadaloo for trying to bring them to justice, but instead of going a path of law and order, Juri just devolved into a violent psychopath. Instead of joining Interpol to take Bison down, she’s joined SIN, essentially planning to take him down from the inside.

She’s the ultimate wild card and has zero loyalty to anyone, making her not only a threat, but an unpredictable one. Even Seth knows that it’s only a matter of time before she betrays him, so might as well use her to his advantage while he has the chance.

Juri’s fighting style and movements really make her pop, making her easily the best design to come out of the Street Fighter IV games.


First appearance: Street Fighter V

The turbulent wind is easily the most enjoyable to play as in Street Fighter V and his design only increases my admiration. Why does he have a Dragon Ball Z power scouter? I have no idea. It’s never really brought up. But he has that along with a jetpack and a Groot-like wrestler bodyguard who rarely says anything other than, “Master…” If I had all that, I’d be just as optimistic, even when trying to track down my kidnapped friend.

While there are different stories being told in the “Shadow Falls” story mode, Rashid is the glue that holds it together. Among all the self-serious monologues and conflicts (Cammy vs. Vega, Charlie vs. Bison, Ryu vs. Bison), you have Rashid, who initially comes off as comic relief and gradually stands out as the true protagonist of the game with the most unique subplot. Even Charlie’s redemption is brought on by Rashid’s charming and friendly personality.

Further Reading: 25 Underrated PS3 Games


First appearance: Sakura Ganbaru (manga)

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter Alpha 3

With Sakura being the teen girl version of Ryu, it’s only fitting that she gets her own blond, red-wearing, rich rival. Karin should by all means be a villain with the way she holds herself above the common folk. She is a snob and has an ego the size of Manitoba, but in the end, she’s not really a terrible person. Maybe it’s because her rivalry with Sakura has taught her humility. Either way, she’s respectful enough to sponsor R. Mika’s wrestling career and has no qualms in opposing Shadaloo.

One of the neat things about Karin is that she’s originally a manga character created by Masahiko Nakahira who was so beloved that Capcom figured, what the hell, let’s toss her into the series. I love that kind of thing.

Karin jumps up the list due to her depiction in Street Fighter V, where she not only has her own anti-Shadaloo faction of Mika, Ibuki, Birdie and a bunch of ninjas, but she acts like Nick Fury and puts together her own Avengers team of world warriors. By not having Sakura in the game until much later, Karin really gets to shine and be her own person.

Now that I think about it, she did go out of her way not to include Sakura on her all-star team. That’s cold.

14. M. BISON

First appearance: Street Fighter II

Can I just post, “it was Tuesday,” and move on? Yes? No?

Bison is a visionary. A power-hungry top villain who decided to just throw together a worldwide fighting tournament in order to wipe out his enemies and get some errands done. Before you know it, Geese Howard, Heihachi Mishima, Rugal Bernstein, Testament, and countless others were copying his plan. A real tastemaker, that Bison.

Bison is so sinister that he literally made himself purely evil through magic just so he wouldn’t be distracted by his conscience. He’s just so infectiously cheery about being an absolute dirtbag. It’s hard not to get behind his one-liners that bring out his zest for kung-fu treachery.

You don’t even need to go to that above movie quote or his harsh line about killing his own father from the U.S. cartoon. His in-game catchphrase is, “This place will become your grave!” and it sounds badass no matter which language you’ve chosen for him.

I will say that Bison succumbs to the same problem that hits any kind of serial storytelling in that he’s not allowed to stay dead. It’s more important that he’s playable than it is to stick to the storyline choices, so Bison returns for the same reason DC doesn’t kill the Joker. He’s too valuable a villain. That’s too bad in a way, because I feel he’s already gone out with a bang and he’s worn out his welcome.

Further Reading: The Many Lives of M. Bison


First appearance: Final Fight

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter III: Second Impact

I know it’s bad form to choose Hugo over Zangief, but this guy’s so awesome. A mushy mountain of muscle with a one-digit IQ and a tendency to stumble into destroying anything in his path. He’s Andre the Giant (part of an entire family of Andre the Giants!) who fights like Zangief being attacked by bees.

The whole potato obsession in Ultra Street Fighter IV was pretty dumb, but I love his storyline in the Street Fighter III games to death. In Second Impact, he has multiple endings based on turning his final opponent into his tag partner (choices are Ryu, Gill, Necro, and Elena). But in Third Strike, he goes even further by starting his own New World Order stable made up of the game’s cast.

Like, come on. The idea that a retired street thug is able to beat up a self-proclaimed god so badly that the guy gives up trying to run a cult in order to become a pro wrestler? When someone asks why you should care about the stories and endings in video games, there you go.

12. ADON

First appearance: Street Fighter

If Adon is in the game, he’s my main. I’m not very good with him or anything, but he’s my main. Hell, my email is named after one of his moves.

Adon is this grating, hateful man who doesn’t seem to like anyone else. He believes himself to be King Shit ever since realizing that his former mentor, Sagat, isn’t so unbeatable after all. Normally, that would easily make him fit into the role of villain. He’d be gunning to take over Shadaloo or something of that nature. Not so much.

In one of Adon’s endings, Bison comes to him with an offer to join Shadaloo. Adon’s response is to tell him to go suck a butt because he’s not going to throw in with a bunch of drug lords. Yes, that’s right. Adon has a higher moral standing than Sagat!

He isn’t a monster. He’s just a heel.


First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha

Charlie and Guile are like Captain America and Bucky Barnes with the roles reversed. At first, it seemed that Charlie was the sidekick, but despite getting killed off a bunch in the Alpha games, the suggestion is that he’s Guile’s inspiration even before his existence became about revenge. Charlie’s simply cooler in seemingly every way, from his one-handed Sonic Booms to his split Flash Kicks to his ridiculous hair to the fact that he wears glasses merely for fashion reasons.

Recently, Charlie’s resurfaced as a deranged, mindwiped freakshow. His story in the latest game is tragic, but it’s also a good piece of closure, even if we didn’t get enough Guile/Charlie interaction.

Further Reading: The Strange History of Charlie Nash

10. ALEX

First appearance: Street Fighter III

In a way, Alex is like a parody of Guile. While Guile abandoned his family in the name of revenge, there was still righteousness to his mission. Alex goes after Gill, not because he’s a weirdo cultist, but because he beat Alex’s father figure in a fight. Fairly. The guy has a short fuse and doesn’t think things through, is what I’m getting at.

Alex is the highlight of Street Fighter III for me. His grappler moveset is an endless blast, whether it’s catching people with rolling DDTs, rolling German suplexes, or jumping powerbombs. Something about his line delivery gives it an extra bit of oomph when you’re slamming your opponent. Even him yelling something as simple as “WEAK!” sounds rugged.

I’m glad he’s become popular enough to get a DLC spot in Street Fighter V. I’m all about watching he and Birdie take part in a headbutt duel.

Street Fighter Characters - G

9. G

First appearance: Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

The Street Fighter characters of the 21st century have been hit or miss, but without a doubt, the best creation is none other than G. Now, G may or may not be Q in another form, but until that’s confirmed, I’m giving him his own entry. What is obvious is that there’s some kind of connection and rather than answering the question of what Q is, Capcom has thickened the plot in the most entertaining way possible.

G is visually a mixture of Q, Abraham Lincoln, Uncle Sam, Goldmember, and a hobo. While Q is silent and in the shadows, G is out in the light, ranting and raving about unity and how he is or should be the President of Earth. We don’t know what he truly wants or what he truly is, but clues point to him being like Ego the Living Planet from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where he’s the living avatar of Earth’s spirit. Or maybe he’s something more sinister.

Either way, light it up! I love this guy.


First appearance: Super Street Fighter II

Cammy is a great window into how completely evil M. Bison is and how even an angel can rise out of Hell. Cammy is a clone of Bison, and for some reason, of all the Dolls, she’s the one who isn’t allowed to wear pants. (Bison is kind of an odd guy.) Despite being a brainwashed killing machine created for the sake of being a spare body for Bison, Cammy is able to become a genuine hero and the world is a better place for her existing.

Ever since appearing in Super Street Fighter II, Cammy’s gymnastic assassin fighting style has helped make an impact, and she’s become one of the series’ staples. I mean, the exposed cheeks have helped keep people interested, but even then, she’s able to stand alone based purely on her twisty, flippy offense and determined coldness.

She’s Jamie Lee Curtis’ main, by the way. Who are you to question Jamie Lee Curtis?


First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha 2

Even though anyone who watches one of her fights has to be immediately added to a government watch list, Sakura is easily one of the best characters in the series. She’s Ryu’s fangirl, but more than that. She represents all that’s good and wholesome about Ryu and his actions. She’s the #1 example of meaning in Ryu’s life, which I’ll expand on when I get to his entry…

A plucky go-getter, Sakura kind of has her own little corner of the Street Fighter universe etched out for herself, sort of making her the queen of the lower tier. As she grows in experience and ability, she’s befriended by the likes of Dan, Blanka, Karin, Ibuki, and those crazy Rival Schools kids. She may fight like “ghetto Ryu,” but she’s able to carve her own path.

If Akuma is Ryu’s devil on the shoulder, then Sakura is the angel, trying to keep him honest. Ryu may feel that her hero worship is off-base, but that’s because she believes in him more than he believes in himself and she probably isn’t wrong.


First appearance: Street Fighter Alpha

How could I not have the Master of Saikyo in the top ten? Dan Hibiki is a riot, existing for the sake of laughing at SNK’s blatant Ryu and Ken knockoffs Ryo and Robert. The fact that they added in Ryo’s black undershirt, despite Dan otherwise being a Ryu headswap, is especially fantastic.

Even though he’s a joke, Dan still has a somewhat serious story arc that makes him endearing. His father was killed by Sagat. He learned just a little bit under Gouken, but was kicked out for wanting vengeance. Through an eventual victory of Sagat (a fight Sagat sandbagged out of sympathy), Dan found a new calling in life. Even if he is an idiot who’s so completely full of himself, Dan is still a genuinely good man who takes care of his friends. He came out all right in the end.

The rub is that even if Gouken were to try and give Dan another shot to learn, he’d be too full of himself to pay it any mind.


First appearance: Final Fight

First appearance in Street Fighter: Street Fighter Alpha 3

Cody started out as the boring one in the Final Fight trio. He was neither the American ninja nor the prototype Jesse Ventura. He was just the guy in street clothes who got the girl. Then he showed up in the U.S. cartoon and he was a terrible redneck mess. But Cody immediately became amazing the moment they put him in Alpha 3.

Instead of living happily ever after, Final Fight Revenge ruined him completely on an emotional level. He became addicted to fighting to the point that it ruined every bit of goodwill that came from saving the city and being practically family with the mayor himself. Cody is what Ken could have become. Not taking a turn for the dark like Evil Ryu, but instead becoming an addict whose very life is hollow boredom brought on by self-imposed isolation.

Cody still holds two secrets in him. One is that despite his criminal status and apathy, he’s still a good person, and the only one willing to point it out is his old friend Guy. The other is that Cody is apparently one of the best fighters in the Street Fighter universe. He’s supposed to be on Akuma’s level, but doesn’t assert himself enough for anyone to really take notice. He’s too busy acting out of boredom and handicapping himself with giant handcuffs to really fulfill his potential.

Street Fighter V took this rock bottom status and gave is a fitting redemption arc by having Cody clean up and become the new Mayor of Metro City. It’s the perfect ending of his story and an even better starting point if they allow it.


First appearance: Street Fighter II

Few people in this world have ever had their shit figured out more than Vega.

He’s a matador by day and a ninja assassin by night. He’s a high-ranking part of an untouchable criminal empire, but is cool with letting the leader lead because who wants that responsibility? He spends his spare time killing people in cage matches. He has his own personal sense of honor, but in a disgusting, self-serving, prejudice way.

Vega is a psychotic serial killer, but refined enough that he’s able to enjoy a life of rubbing elbows with the elite. All while wearing a glorified hockey mask and giant claw, because if I could get away with such a thing, I know I would. The only problem with his existence is the burden of having to work closely with a disrespectful beast of a man whose face is uglified from years of hard-hitting boxing matches.

I never got the hang of playing as Vega after all these years, but I still respect how great his set is put together. The moment Street Fighter II: Championship Edition came out and we were told we could play as the bosses, I was psyched as hell to finally use that flippy, yodeling son of a bitch who climbed cages before slashing your face or suplexing you.

Further Reading: The Strange History of Street Fighter’s Vega


First appearance: Super Street Fighter II: Turbo

Akuma is the boogeyman of the martial arts world. A twisted monster who murdered (sort of) his own brother to prove a point. He wants to drive Ryu to darkness for the sake of competition. He literally tears people’s souls apart with his bare hands in a move so out of control that we aren’t allowed to even see it happen.

Yet at the end of the day, it’s hard to even label him as simply “evil.” He’s beyond the duality. He foregoes the ideas of being merciless for the sake of being merciless. He’s strangely respectful to children and doesn’t kill unless he has reason—either because someone has agreed to a fight to the death or because someone outright tries to go after him.

Even his behavior around Ryu amounts to: “This is what you want! You don’t seem to grasp it, but this is exactly what you want!”

Of course, when you see Ryu give into his killing intent, he becomes drunk on his own power. Not Akuma. He’s mastered what he’s become and exists as a demon on his own terms (while Oni is what happens when he loses himself completely). He’s his own man and does what he wants, even if it works to humanity’s advantage, such as vaporizing M. Bison. It’s not up to him whether his actions are considered good or evil, and he honestly couldn’t care less.

Further Reading: The Violent History of Akuma

2. RYU

First appearance: Street Fighter

“Ryu is so boring.” – nearly everyone

I don’t agree. I used to, but Ryu’s grown on me over the years. His interest in the art of fighting and excitement in challenging others, whether the weathered and powerful or the young and green, best represents the fanbase who dedicate so much of their time to taking on all comers around the world in virtual battles. Ryu doesn’t act out of heroism but because every opponent is an adventure, making him an easy fit when faced with everyone from Sodom to Terry Bogard to Dr. Strange to Mr. Game and Watch.

Since the Alpha games, Ryu’s been portrayed as kind of a martial arts Luke Skywalker, trying to fight against the path to the dark side. That’s not what makes him so interesting, though. What really sold me on him is Masahiko Nakahira’s manga stories, which culminated in Street Fighter III: Ryu Final. That story was about Ryu coming to terms with what he truly is. Not a man who will become the greatest fighter of all time, but the man who makes everyone better for fighting with him.

Ryu is the saint of battle. People like Birdie, Sakura, Sagat, Hugo, and so on become better, fulfilled, and more driven simply for knowing him. He’s likely the main reason Ken remains in the circuit. In Third Strike, the last canon game in terms of chronology, the series’ new hero, Alex, gains a spark to follow in Ryu’s footsteps just because getting his ass kicked in a fight was so exhilarating.

Ryu’s the center. He holds the world together.

Further Reading: The Epic History of Ryu


First appearance: Street Fighter

Like I mentioned before, Ryu’s inner-battle storyline is a bit too on the nose. The plot device he struggles with (the Dark Hadou) is basically magic. Sagat walks a similar path as Ryu’s journey, but his is defined by actions and decisions, not spiritual roid rage. It makes him a more complex person who spends various games walking through an arc of redemption and self-discovery.

Sagat starts the series off as a kind of shitty guy with a gigantic ego. Humility doesn’t suit him and he goes off the deep end, becoming a major part of a terrorist organization while equating hatred to drive and power. He ultimately finds out that it doesn’t work for him and goes out of his way to prevent Dan Hibiki—a man he wronged—from becoming just like him. Sagat redeems himself in various ways and ends up seeing the world the way Ryu does.

All that and the guy is a stone cold badass. He’s a statue made of battle damage. His ending in Street Fighter X Tekken has him turn his back on gaining godly power because it’s beneath him. Hell, go check out his subplot in Ryu Final. There’s a story in there about him taking a series of bullets to the chest to save two orphans that’s so amazing that Capcom’s decided to make those kids part of canon.

In the end, even if he’s betrayed his terrorist status and has become a bit of an antihero, his personality reflects the way he fights. Kind of like Ryu, but far more blunt, unforgiving, and controlling. There are no kid gloves on him. The King of Muay Thai demands excellence and won’t settle for less.

So what do you think? Who did I rank too high or too low? Did I get your porridge just right? Let me know in the comments, though try to show your work. Sell me on it. You think I gave Ingrid an unfair shake? Think Cody is really a big pile of dumb? Okay, sure. At least let me know why.

Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and probably would’ve put Mike Haggar in the top ten if he qualified. Oh well. Read Gavin’s other articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L