main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
The Smurfette Principle: Videogames

  • The Ace Combat series:
    • Ace Combat 2 had a single significant female character, namely the optional wingwoman Kei Nagase. The other potential wingman was a Scary Black Man and the Player Character Featureless Protagonist is referred to as male.
    • The un-macekred Japanese version of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere is, thus far, the biggest aversion of this trope in the series. In addition to the Ill MacGuffin Girl Rena Hirose, it gave us the Fitzgerald sisters, Cynthia and Fiona, who determine the late-game missions in the Neucom path. With Erich Jager, Keith Bryan, and Abyssal Dision on the male side, Electrosphere comes as close to gender parity, as an AC game can.
    • Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies gave us Yellow 4, the Doomed Love Interest of the hero's rival, and the only female in her squadron.
    • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War featured the other Kei Nagase, the only female in the entire game until the brief late-mission appearance of Bartlett's old flame.
    • Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War goes for a Token Enemy Female again and gives us Marcela Vasquez, the only female boss-level ace and the only woman to get her own interview. Also, out of 169 named aces in the game, only 9 are female. That's about 19 to 1 male-to-female ratio.
    • Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation tried to address this issue by showing a part of the story through the eyes of Melissa and Ludmila, two female refugees wandering the war-torn Emmeria, looking for their daughter and fiance, respectively. Also, it had a Token Enemy Female, Irena Dvornik, as well as allied pilot Lanner.
    • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon follows the suit with only one female character of Nominal Importance and speaking role, Janice Rehl. A Nagase lookalike is present in some cutscenes but that's sadly just a non-speaking cameo.
    • On a more meta level, Janice is so far the only playable female character in a twenty years-old series. And only for half a mission.
  • Age of Empires later added in female villagers to the series (villagers may be either gender) in response to a lack of females in the first game. Justified otherwise since virtually all other units were combatants, and everyone knows that very few past cultures allowed women to fight.
  • In the Ape Escape series, Pink Monkey is one of the Freaky Monkey Five.
  • The Art of Fighting trilogy has a total of only five female fighters in the entire series. In the first installment, King, the sole female fighter in that game, is disguised as a male bouncer until her shirt is torn in battle. Wonder why her gender was revealed that way?
  • The Atelier series has an inversion. The series usually features female protagionists. The first time male protagonists were used was in the Atelier Iris Trilogy. Other examples include the Mana Khemia spin-offs, and the latest game, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusky Sky, where one of the Deuteragonists is male.
  • Of the gang of playable characters in Borderlands, three are male, with a fourth man driving the truck, and one is female - introduced as "The Siren," which is barely a gnat's whisker away from simply calling her "the token girl." The vast majority of enemies are male, too. Or arguably, in the case of the skags, not sexually dimorphic.
    • Borderlands 2 continues the trend, three male characters and 'the siren'. Both games include a Voice with an Internet Connection named Angel who guides you through the game, as well as Mad Moxxi. The second includes Ellie, a mission-giver, and has all four of the original characters, and another female character class available as a preorder bonus or DLC, the Mechromancer.
    • Subverted with Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, which features two female playable characters from the start and considering that Claptrap is a genderless robot, this means that Wilhelm is the only male playable character.
  • In Bully, each social clique has only a single female member versus about half a dozen male members.
  • City of Heroes both plays this straight and subverts it. The main cast of NPC heroes, the Freedom Phalanx, has only two females, Numina and Sister Psyche, who ended up marrying one of the others, Manticore. The game's Teen Titans Expy, the Vindicators, is all female except two.
    • The villain groups in Paragon City are almost all male, with two exceptions (there seems to be a pattern here...), the Carnival of Shadows and the Knives of Artemis.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert has two female characters — but since they are split by side, one of them isn't really part of the ensemble for the other side's campaign (especially on the Allied side — Tanya does make a few appearances in the Soviet campaign).
  • One of the 4 Horsemen in the Darksiders series named Fury is the only female horsemen and she has yet to make her debut in the game, only in the comics. Uriel and Lilith are also the only known female characters on the heaven and hell side respectively.
  • In Diablo I, only one of the three (the Rogue) classes was female. Diablo II evened the gender balance a bit with three female classes and four male ones. Diablo III removes the problem entirely by allowing the player to be either gender for all classes.
    • Diablo I was either more or less balanced with the inclusion of the Hellfire expansion depending on how you approach it. It added the male monk class by default, plus mildly altered remakes of the Warrior and Rogue that could only be unlocked by futzing with a system file.
  • Donkey Kong Country:
    • The series has only a few female Kongs: Candy Kong was the first, a vaguely fanservicey monkey who helps the player. Dixie Kong was introduced as Diddy's girlfriend, simultaneously with the grandmotherly Wrinkly Kong, and Tiny Kong was the only female member of Donkey Kong 64's Five-Man Band. Similarly, the Kremlings were always male in the games, and it wasn't until Barrel Blast that females were finally featured (specifically, Kass and Kalypso).
    • Donkey Kong Country Returns has no apparent females at all.
  • Dragon Quest VIII has Jessica, the only female playable character in a group of 4. She may be the Squishy Wizard but she has some of the more powerful weapon attacks. Though she does have some interesting costume changes. She's also the third character you get and the only one who can throw the big blaster spells. And there's also Princess Medea, but...
  • Drakengard: Aside from professionally Damsel in Distress Furiae, the only female character of note is Arioch. Who is a deranged, barren elf who eats children. She isn't even the worst person in the party, which includes a sociopathic mass murderer who routinely kicks his own allies in the head, a senile, racist old man, a pedophile, and a six-year-old boy who dooms the world out of petty spite.
  • All three entries of the Mother series has had three guys and one girl in the main party (or in Mother 3's case, two guys, a girl and a dog), the girl being the psychic powerhouse.
  • Contrast EverQuest, where female characters seem to outnumber male ones. Both Everquest and Everquest 2's main characters, Firiona Vie and Antonia Bayle respectively, were female. Firiona's nemesis, Lanys Ty'Val, was female as well.
  • Fallout allowed you to choose your character's gender, but of the four recruitable NPCs only one was female. In Fallout 2 it got worse, with eight recruitable males, four dogs, a robot...and one female human, who was literally worse than useless (useless in a fight, can't gain levels, takes up a party slot and won't leave unless you kill her or sell her to slavers. The being said, some quests in the game were more easily completed if you were a woman. It is debatable whether this helps, but it certainly won't pass The Bechdel Test.
    • Fallout 3 is somewhat better in this regard, having two female recruitable NPCs who are relatively useful. However, they are still in the minority (there are three male companions, as well as a genderless (formerly male) super mutant, a male dog and a robot with a male voice).
    • Fallout: New Vegas has two recruitable female characters of comparable use with a formerly female nightkin supermutant (which used to be a sweet old granny.) Four of the remaining five are males, among them a ghoul and a cybernetic mutt.
    • The Fallout Bible mentions Vault 68, populated with 999 men and only one woman, and Vault 69, with 999 women and only one man. It is never mentioned what happened in these vaults, but considering the tone of the games and the other vaults, they probably didn't end well.
  • The Fatal Fury series introduced its first female fighter with the ninja girl Mai Shiranui in Fatal Fury 2. Blue Mary was introduced in Fatal Fury 3 to balance things out, followed by Li Xiangfei in Real Bout 2 and Tsugumi Sendo in Wild Ambition. Mark of the Wolves only had two female fighters (B. Jenet and Hotaru) out of a roster of 14 characters.
  • The Final Fantasy series has played with this trope throughout its entries:
    • Of the six character classes in Final Fantasy I, only the White Mage looks female (and the original White Wizard graphic confirms White mage as a male Bishōnen). It's possible to see all of the characters as androgynous to be female and the remakes give most classes both male and female names.
    • Final Fantasy II only has two female playable characters out of ten, Maria and Leila, with the latter being one of the seven Guest Star Party Members. The core group is Two Guys and a Girl.
    • The original version of Final Fantasy III stars the all-male Onion Knights; the remake for the DS makes one of them a girl.
    • Notably, every game since Final Fantasy IV has had exactly three female characters in the playable cast, regardless of the total cast size. This is explicitly referred to as the Three Females Rule in Squaresoft fan circles. This even extends to entries that don't follow The Smurfette Principle, like Final Fantasy V (three women, two men) and Final Fantasy X-2 (an all-female party of three). Note that later games have gravitated toward a total playable cast size of 6, thus equalizing the gender balance while still following the rule.
    • This is obvious in the crossover Dissidia. Terra is the only female on the protagonist side in the main storyline, besides the goddess Cosmos herself, entirely because the roster is composed of only the main characters of each game, and Final Fantasy VI is the only one to have a female lead. Secret fighter Shantotto does get a storyline all to herself. The side of evil is slightly fairer with Ultimecia and The Cloud of Darkness in their ranks, but the latter is questionable since "she" is technically female in physical form only and tends to talk like an old man. It has the same problem that most of the main villains in the series are male. The Dissidia Duodecim additions of Tifa Lockhart, Yuna (who was the original pick to represent her game before settling on Tidus), Prishe and Lightning alleviate this somewhat on the heroes' side, but the cast is still overwhelmingly male.
    • This (and, for that matter, the three woman rule) was averted in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Serah and Noel are the ONLY playable characters in the main game. Makes the ratio very even at 1:1 (not counting the monsters you can control, of course, which could be any gender you choose to consider them to be).
  • While Fire Emblem has a diverse cast of genders in most games, some of them have this problem with the villains. General Petrine of Daien is the only woman among the Four Riders, and the only other female villain in the game is Ena, who pulls a Heel-Face Turn after the heroes defeat her at the capital. Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones had only Selena on the villains roster and even then Selena remains loyal to her homeland, not being one of the 3 truly evil generals. Fire Emblem (aka Rekka no Ken) was a little more balanced, though it still had more male villains than females and two of the "females" (along with one of the "males") are explicitly genderless.
  • Anya Stroud is the only female who fought alongside Marcus in Delta Squad in Gears of War 3.
  • The only females in the entirety of Half-Life are the black-clad assassins who never speak and only appear in two areas. However, Half-Life 2 has an equal distribution of genders amongst the random civilians and La Résistance members as well as the inclusion of Alyx, who with Episode One and Episode Two has been elevated to Main Character status alongside Gordon.
  • Noble Team in Halo: Reach has only one female Spartan, unless you make Noble Six female. In Halo: Combat Evolved, Cortana is the only female in the entire game other than the pilot, Foehammer, and some other generic unnamed pilot.
  • Heavy Rain: Four playable characters, one female—complete with relationship conflicts with another main and sexualized role (which you can undermine later, but still).
  • In the Kingdom Hearts games, while there are a small handful of important female NPCs, when it comes to the playable characters, the three main characters are all male, and there's only one female Guest Star Party Member in each game; Ariel of The Little Mermaid in the first one, and Mulan in the sequel. There's also Organization XIII. Out of thirteen members, there is only one female. Another female, Xion, seems to be added in 358/2 Days, but her status ends up rejected in more than one way.
    • The Two Guys and a Girl pattern ensures alot of this, with Kairi, Xion, and Aqua each being the only girl in a friendship circle.
    • Worse still, those five girls end up having little role in the plot. Finding Kairi is Sora's main character motivation, but character-wise she gets sidelined a lot. Namine has that problem as well, though she at least takes a supporting role in helping Sora recover from the events of Chain of Memories, though that gets overshadowed by DiZ and Riku in most occasions. Larxene exists merely as a satellite to Marluxia, who managed to be little more than a Filler Villain for Chain[[note: Fittingly, he was meant to be a woman as well, before the developers realized that would be sexist]]. Xion and Aqua are the two characters that break out of this role the most, with the former being both a legitimate character motivation and love interest, and serving the role of Final Boss for the game she appears in, though she's not fully female, while the latter is actually a playable protagonist in her game.
  • Chizuru, Shermie, and Shion are the only female boss characters you will face in The King of Fighters series, in 96/2003, 97, and Xi respectively.
  • The Kirby series had no females (besides Ambiguous Gender helpers) until ChuChu came along.
  • The playable characters in both Left 4 Dead and its sequel consist of three men and one woman - neither is The Chick, however, and they are both distinctly different from each other. This is explained as the gene to be resistant to The Virus is recessive and carried on the x-chromosome. Women need two copies of the gene, while men only need one, explaining the genetically sound 3:1 ratio.
  • Depending on the game, Zelda may be the only important female character in the series. However, it is named after her. Other games invert the trope, such as Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. The former two have 3 main protagonists (Link, Zelda and Navi/Midna) while the later has 5 (Link, Zelda, Fi, Impa and Hylia) and Link is the only male of all three groups.
  • In Live A Live, most of the characters you control are male, except two: Prehistoric Chapter's Bel, who won't be coming for the Final Chapter, or Kung-Fu Chapter's Li Kuugo, who'll only appear in the Final Chapter if picked as the star pupil (otherwise she got Killed Off for Real).
  • Mass Effect applies the trope quite strongly — to entire species, not individuals. You never see a female turian or batarian, although female turians are shown in the Mass Effect: Evolution comic. It's difficult to determine the gender of volus and hanar, but all the ones we've met have masculine voices and none have been suggested to be female. One female elcor can be heard, but not seen, in the Blasto 6 commercial. The asari are a mono-gendered species, but they all look and sound very much like human women. BioWare has said this was so they wouldn't have to design separate character models for each race.
    • The lack of Female Turians is finally averted in the Omega DLC for the third game, features a female Turian biotic named Nyreen. The multiplayer mode now has female turians as well.
    • It should also be mentioned that the playable cast completely averts this. Mass Effect 1 has three women (if you count Liara, from the mono-gendered asari race) and three men. Mass Effect 2 has five men and four women, and it probably would have been five and five, except the last playable character is a geth, and there's one female and one male in DLC. Mass Effect 3 can change drastically based on who survived Virmire and the Collector Base, but there are two mandatory female party members, and only one mandatory male. If Ashley survives Virmire, it's possible to have the women doubly outstrip the men - EDI, Liara, Ashley and Tali compared to Garrus and James. (It should be noted that EDI is an AI, but she's very distinctively female). And of course, Sheperd herself/himself can also tip the balance.
  • The Mega Man series, as a whole, does this constantly. There is a grand total of two female characters in the entire original series - Roll, who took until 10 to get a single plot-significant action to her name (and is never playable except as a joke — she's a housekeeping robot), and Mega Man 4's Kalinka, who exists entirely to be kidnapped. As for the villains, they had to be male because of the naming scheme — every Robot Master is called <word> Man. This has changed with the introduction of Splash Woman in 9...then 10 went back to the status quo.
    • The Capcom vs. Whatever games have their own different Unfortunate Implications concerning Roll. In Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes, she was such an awful Joke Character that she got her own tier. In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, thanks to the release of Mega Man Powered Up, her moverset has a Stay in the Kitchen theme.
    • In the Ruby-Spears cartoon, Roll was more of a Faux Action Girl than a generic housekeeper. There was still the "vacuum-for-an-arm" complex she seemed to have developed, though...
    • The X series has only a couple, mostly in noncombat roles as well — Iris was Zero's love interest and apparently not a combatant (though she did fight at the end — against him, and she dies by his sword), Alia plays mission control in later games, and a few of the bosses are feminine.
      • X8 changes this slightly, as the three female operators are unlockable as bonus characters, each one emulating one of the main (male) characters to varying degrees of success. Alia isn't all that useful as she lacks X's ability to use different armor parts, but Layer is every bit as powerful (and badass) as Zero, and Palette lacks only Axl's ability to copy enemies (which is mostly used for the purpose of finding items rather than combat).
    • The Zero series began to turn the tables. The series had Ciel (the most important non-player character), Leviathan (one of the four Guardians, a Quirky Miniboss Squad that evolved), Neige, and many of the bosses and Resistance NPCs are female.
    • Finally, each of the ZX games has one male and one female protagonist — a decision that has its own problems, but at least lets girls save the Mega Man world for once.
    • The Battle Network series inherited the same problem as the original, since most of the Navis are based on original-series Robot Masters. However, there are lots of female human characters to make up for it.
      • Actually, one of the no-name NPCs you can talk to in the second game casually mentions "A cute girl like me wouldn't-", despite having a generic Navi NPC sprite ("commercial model", they're called in-game), albeit a red-hued version.
    • The upcoming Rockman Online has four announced characters: X, Zero, Duo, and Cinnamon. Guess which one's the token chick.
  • The Metal Gear Solid series fits this trope well. In the first game, Sniper Wolf is the only female foxhound member. In the 2nd game, Fortune is the only female Dead Cell member. In the 3rd game, The Boss is the only female Cobra unit. In MGS4, Meryl is the only female member in Rat Patrol 01. Finally, in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Paz, Amanda and doctor Strangelove are the only female members in the MSF in terms of storyline, although you can recruit more female soldiers into your unit to even the balance.
    • Given that one of the major arcs in each of the Solid games was that each of the games have story lines that very closely followed the first game's "Shadow Moses" incident (Metal Gear Solid 2 especially) by design, this was definitely not done to be sexist, but rather to duplicate every element of the Shadow Moses incident from the first game, down to the female to male ratios.
  • Despite being the flagship Action Girl of the video game world, Samus Aran of Metroid fame managed to become the Smurfette in her own series in Metroid Prime: Hunters. Six new bounty hunters were introduced, all of them male or ambiguously so. She's also the only Hunter without a unique weapon, unless you count the fact that her missiles home—but this may be due to the tendency of game heroes not to specialize than any smurfiness. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is more fair, as one of the three new hunters is another female.
  • The only female in Modern Warfare is your fellow Cobra pilot "Deadly" in the first game. Obviously justified by the fact that it's a military game.
  • Let's see, Mortal Kombat... For the first game, the creators realized they didn't have any female fighters in their roster, so they changed the character of male Kurtis Stryker into female Sonya Blade (Stryker would become a fighter after all in the third game). This made her the only female out of 7 playable characters and 10 fighters overall. Later games have made sure to include female playable characters from the start, with the ratio male:female about 5:1. As for the various factions and species, most of the time there are more (known) male characters than females, the exceptions being the saurians (1:1 or 1:2), the demons (2:5), and the vampires (0:1 or 1:1). Interestingly in case of the vampires, initially there were supposed to be a female and male vampire introduced in Deadly Alliance, but the male was dropped because of time constraints.
  • Nezumi Man has Wave Nezumi, the only female boss of the eight. Kind of a coincidence then that her powers are the same element as Splash Woman's.
  • In One Piece Mansion, Raspberry is described as being the only female in Syndicate 5.
  • Overall, the major Pokémon characters tend to lean in favor of males; only in Diamond and Pearl was a female Champion introduced, and it took until Black and White to introduce a female Pokémon Professor, and even then she got majorly sidetracked by a male professor as her father. In spite of this, the Gym Leaders and the Elite Four are normally reasonably balanced and the player has been able to play as a boy or a girl since Crystal, with the developers having planned to implement female player characters since the beginning. Ruby/Sapphire and Black/White also have female rivals. The following games have both included female Champions, though, as well as at least 2 female supporting NPCs.
  • Portal managed to avert this issue pretty well by both Chell and GLADoS (and the Sentry Turrets, kind of) being female.
    • Plus the Weighted Companion Cube is decorated with pink hearts.
  • In Rage, Elizabeth is the only known female Resistance member.
  • Most Resident Evil games avert this; there are only two cases: while Resident Evil has two major female characters, they are the sole female members of their respective STARS teams (Jill for Alpha team, Rebecca for Bravo team). Meanwhile, Resident Evil 2 subverts this; among the four major player characters, Leon's the only guy, joined by Claire, Ada, and Sherry.
    • Weirdly, in early games, there are almost never any female zombies (the first game only had male zombies, while the second and third games had only one female zombie model among a slew of male models); this is averted by the time Resident Evil 0 rolls around. Though the Gamecube/Wii remake of RE 1, added Lisa Trevor, not only a contender for scariest monster in the series, but has one of the most tragic backstories as well as being completely invincible (Though Umbrella Chronicles hints that she just has really good healing powers similar to Wolverine from X-men)
  • Rachel Parker in the Resistance series is the only female recurring survivor.
    • Somewhat subverted with Resistance: Retribution where the major issue is fighting an army of Female Chimera along with the typical Chimera mooks.
  • In Robopon, in the first game, Miss Amron is the only female Legend out of seven. (Kamat may or may not be a girl). This is averted with the Elite 8: All of its members are girls.
  • In Scribblenauts Unlimited, Maxwell has many, many siblings you can unlock and play as. All but one of them are brothers, and the one sister is the damsel in distress.
  • Sengoku Basara spinoff fighting only had Oichi as the only "true" playable female character of the sausage fighting fest. The rest of the girls are delegated to backup.
  • In the first Shin Megami Tensei, all of the Seraphim (Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel) were presumably male, but the second game reveals Gabriel is a girl, and all subsequent SMT and Persona games featuring Gabriel retain this.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog was never character-heavy in its early games, but no female character was even seen until Amy Rose, who looked like a little pink Sonic in a dress. More characters have been introduced as the cast has expanded, but the majority have been male.
    • At one point, Sega tried to produce a series with "Sonic's Sister", but the effort proved unsuccessful. Perhaps because they tried to edit her into Popful Mail for localization of that game.
    • Of the Deadly Six in Sonic Lost World, only one (Zeena, the green one) is female.
  • At one time to some people, Spyro the Dragon was classified as a sexist game because there were no important female characters at first. But then along came Bianca and Elora, with the first being a sort of villain and the other just a love interest. And then there was Sheila, a female kangaroo. Even in the Legend of Spyro series, Cynder is the only important female, with no other females present, which leads to this trope heading for some very Unfortunate Implications, although false allegations of Cynder being a Mary Sue are overpowering what bizarre ideas could be drawn from a universe of mostly male dragons.
    • Largely continues into Skylanders; out of 80 total Skylanders through 3 games, there are only 14 females. Only one of the 8 Giant Skylanders is female, none of the Swap Force Skylanders is female, and it wasn't until the third game that a female Fire Skylander was added. The Swap Force case is justified due to the Lego Body Parts mechanic, mixing males and females would be... awkward.
  • Starcraft had exactly one named female character: Sarah Kerrigan, who is betrayed but rapidly becomes the queen bitch of the universe as the Queen of the Zerg. The expansion set added the Protoss matriarch Raszagal (the only female Protoss for the next ten years). Starcraft II expands the universe a bit, including adding supporting female human characters, but with Raszagal dead, the role of "only female Protoss" is inherited by Executor Selendis, who will be the protagonist of the second expansion set.
    • Starcraft: Ghost's main character was to be a female Ghost, not unlike Kerrigan. In its cinematic, she sits in the shadows of a Dropship on the way to the battle area. A macho Marine makes a sexist comment, and is silently stared down as she leans out of the shadows and is revealed to be a woman.
  • The Star Fox games follow the principle. The original game, and its remake, Star Fox 64, featured an all male membership in the title team (bad jokes about Slippy's Ambiguous Gender notwithstanding) and only one female character period—sometime ally Katt, who assisted you in Zoness and Sector Z. It wasn't until Star Fox Assault that the team gained a permanent female member: Krystal from Star Fox Adventures.
    • The unreleased Star Fox 2, however, would have added two female characters to the roster - Genki Girl Fay and Action Girl Miyu.
    • And in Command, there are a solid 4 females: Krystal, Kat, and newcomers Lucy (Peppy's daughter) and Amanda, Slippy's female love interest. There is even an all-girl mission.
    • Then we have the 1993 Nintendo Power comics with Fara Phoenix, Fox McCloud's future Love Interest.
  • Both Star Wars Battlefront I and II feature at least four factions and have as much as three female characters, the generic Rebel Sniper class (which is excluded in a few maps), Princess Leia, and Aayla Secura, the latter two both hero class characters limited to appear in as much as four maps (if you count Hero Assault). If you own the Xbox version there is Asajj Ventress hero character from the DLC.
  • The first iteration of Street Fighter II had only one female warrior out of twelve fighters, Chun-Li. (She is often called the First Lady of Fighting Games by fans, as she was the first female of the genre, period.) This gradually changed through the course of the series with the introduction of Cammy in Super Street Fighter II; Rose, Sakura, R. Mika, Karin, Juni and Juli in the Street Fighter Alpha series; Ibuki, Elena, and Makoto in the Street Fighter III series; and Crimson Viper and Juri in the Street Fighter IV series.
    • One of Chun-Li's win quotes in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (which has a roughly even male/female mix) makes fun of this: "I remember when I was the only girl on the roster."
    • The cast of crossover characters from Final Fight initially featured four characters, all male, but this changed with the addition of Maki (from Final Fight 2) in the portable versions of Alpha 3.
    • Final Fight Revenge features an all-male cast, excluding (or including) Poison. As made fun in one fansite, "Ohh, and there's only one girl...Ohh wait, Poison is a transsexual. Yep, there's no girls in this fighting game." The western release of the Super NES port of Final Fight, replaced Roxy and Poison with two (non-crossdressing) dudes named Sid and Billy, making Jessica (an NPC) into the only girl in Metro City.
  • The Super Mario Bros. games' only recurring female character was Princess Peach, who was usually a Damsel in Distress. This changed as Princess Daisy and Birdo became full-fledged main characters and with the introductions of Toadette, a feminized Toad, and Rosalina, both of which were somewhat less stereotypical than Peach. The ratio still heavily favors males.
    • Also, some of the RPGs feature a solid cast of female characters. The Paper Mario series especially; in each game, half of Mario's companions are female. The enemies are mostly male, though in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door there is a notable aversion when it turns out that not only was the final boss female, but the male character set up to be the Big Bad for the first 95% of the game was himself the pawn of two female minibosses and their male Chew Toy.
    • The first two Mario Party games had Peach as the sole playable female character. This was changed in Mario Party 3 when Daisy was added to the cast.
    • On the villain side, the first evil female was the single girl of the Koopalings, Wendy O. Koopa. Captain Syrup showed up later as Wario's nemesis, and some stage bosses were female (Naval Piranha). Lately the villainous ladies have become more numerous with Cackletta, the Shadow Queen, Princess Shroob and Elder Princess Shroob, Mimi, the Shadow Sirens, and Robirdo.
  • In the first installment of the Nintendo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Super Smash Bros., the only playable female was Samus Aran (and her gender is hidden by her armor). In the next, out of 13 new characters, Super Smash Bros. Melee introduced three new females, one of whom teamed with a male character as the Ice Climbers. Super Smash Bros. Brawl'' didn't add any females to the cast, though it did make the gender of Samus and Sheik more visible. In the Wii U and 3DS iteration, Sheik and Zero Suit Samus were made separate characters, there's the option to play as female Villagers, female Wii Fit Trainers or female Robin, Miis can also be female and finally, Rosalina, Palutena and Lucina were added.
  • Three crossovers which come to mind that have larger amounts of females than others are Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Pocket Fighter/Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, and Cross Edge.
  • Most Super Robot Wars games allow the player to choose between an equal number of male or female original characters. While this doesn't quite help the ratio among the licensed games, it makes for a more or less even mix among characters in the Original Generation series.
  • Team Fortress 2: The only obvious female in the game is "The Administrator", aka the angry voice that screams at you during rounds. Admittedly, the Pyro may be female (or genderless, for all we know), and the comics also have the character Ms. Pauling, but if you look just at the game, it follows this trope.
  • Torchlight has the same gender ratio as Diablo I (not surprising, considering the similarity between the two games and many of the same developers). Also like Diablo, the lone female happens to be the physical ranged damage dealer.
  • Several of the Ultima games have a less-than-favorable ratio. While the eight "Companions of the Avatar" had a 4:4 ratio, the females generally had worse stats. (By design in Katrina's case, as Shepherds by design aren't supposed to excel.) The trio of Iolo, Dupre and Shamino (all male) also kept gaining prominence over other characters as the game went on. The eighth and ninth games even disallowed playing as a female main character!
  • Inverted in the original Valkyrie Profile: Gandar is the only male recruitable sorcerer in the game (and the most powerful one to boot in terms of base stats), notwithstanding Lezard being usable in the Bonus Dungeon only available on Hard Mode. Also, Lenneth can fight two ways, both as a light swordswoman (along with swordswoman Jayle) or as an archer (making her the only female archer). There's also Aelia the lancer, but there are only two of them in that game anyway (along with the male Lawfer)
  • Rather smurfy is the Warcraft series, especially Warcraft III: Out of twelve heroes, only one, the Priestess of the Moon, is female, and the consensus is that she is the worst of them all. You mean they couldn't at least squeeze a Jaina Proudmoore lookalike in there, given that she's already a custom model representing the hero type? At least there are actually female units, so that could be a step in the right direction.
    • Looking at the races themselves, only the Night Elves have a significant amount of female units. The humans have the sorceress, orcs have nothing at all and the undeads have the banshees. And there are no female neutrals either, unless you count the High Elven archers. Oh, and in the game, the Priestess's icon is a portrait of her tiger, not the Priestess herself, unlike all the other male heroes who have portraits of their faces.
    • A few bones are thrown to the gender-equality crowd in the expansion The Frozen Throne. Three female heroes — the Warden, the Dark Ranger, and the Naga Sorceress — were added, and were at least decent.
    • The earlier games in the series had no female characters in the game. At all. Until Beyond The Dark Portal, and then you got only one: Alleria Windrunner, a unique unit and Sylvanas's elder sister.
      • Warcraft 1 had a half-orc, half-human (who was later retconned into half-Dranei) girl. Garona Halforcen was present in one mission of Warcraft 1. The Smurfette Principle in full force.
    • The Orc gender balance was also acknowledged in World of Warcraft in that the orcs actually were sexist. Despite being every bit as aggressive and strong as the men, women were denied combat roles. Thrall changed that between WC3 and WoW.
    • And that is before getting into their outfits.
  • Every Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War game has one female character (the Eldar Farseer) and one female unit (the Howling Banshees, also Eldar), with Dark Crusade adding the Harlequin and Soulstorm introducing another female unit and the Sisters of Battle. This is justified for the explicitly all-male Space Marines and the genderless aliens, though for the other factions... not so much.
    • Somewhat misleading also, as female Farseers in lore are actually a minority, and howling banshees are 50% male (though they still wear female armor and refer to themselves as the daughters of...some elder crone chick from their mythology. Reverse is true for the other aspect warriors, it's just not obvious.)
    • Finally averted in Dawn of War II: Retribution. The Eldar have two female protagonists in their campaign, and the Imperial Guard campaign has a female Inquisitor as one of the protagonists.
  • Wild ARMs 1 and 3 both follow this trope. Each of the two games has one playable female character (teamed up with two or three males), though Cecilia and Virginia are each portrayed as the one calling the shots.
    • Heck, Virginia is considered The Main Character of Wild Arms 3.
    • Wild ARMs: Alter Code F, a remake of the first game, alleviated the gender issue by adding Calamity Jane and Ema to balance the cast (Zet, a guy, is also recruitable)
    • Wild ARMs 2 and Wild ARMs 4 have an even spread of male to female, though both started with Two Guys and a Girl.
  • Wolfenstein 3D has one single female in both series, who is a boss that looks almost exactly like her brother and has a low voice.
  • Four main playable characters in The World Ends with You, and you can count how many of them are female on the single hand of a blind butcher.
  • Citrine is the only female URTV shown in the Xenosaga trilogy, even though she stated there are 8 others like her.
  • Many early computer games would let the players choose their gender (as well as, often, other attributes like name, race and age) at the start of the game (unless you were a Featureless Protagonist, of course). As the amount of assets (graphics, voice acting, and sometimes even onscreen actors) needed to portray player characters increased, many studios discreetly dumped this feature. Modern games that let you choose a gender offer varying amounts of plot and gameplay branching as a result of the choice.
  • Many games with a four- or Five-Man Band have exactly one female. Guess which role she usually fills. Examples:
    • Billy Hatcher: four main characters, one female.
      • Billy Hatcher also only had one female chicken elder. The rest were male. In fact, her being the only female elder is noted by an NPC.
    • Crazy Taxi has four playable drivers, one woman.
    • Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons arcade series (Tower of Doom, Shadow over Mystara) has the female elf as a Glass Cannon and Lady of War, along with the male fighter, cleric, and dwarf. The latter game includes a Fragile Speedster female thief (and a male magic-user).
    • Final Fight 2 and 3 has Maki and Lucia respectively. Both are Fragile Speedsters naturally, but Lucia is actually a bit stronger than Guy (the token speedster in that game).
    • Gauntlet has three male (Warrior, Wizard, Elf), one female (Valkyrie). Sequel Gauntlet Legends averts this by changing the androgynous-looking elf to a female elven Archer. Dark Legacy falls back in when adding four more characters to the existing four: three male (Dwarf, Knight, Jester) and one female (Sorceress). As well, the breasts on all the women became about twice the size of their heads. Seven Sorrows then goes back to the original four characters.
    • Both Left 4 Dead games have one female in a group of three males. In the sequel, the two groups meet so it's two girls with six guys. Most of the NPCs in the games are male, including the special infected until the Spitter and the female version of the Boomer were introduced in the sequel. The common infected, however, are both male and female.
  • On a related note, many other fighting games fall victim to the same problem, but not because they're drawing from other canons. It is rare to find more than a few female characters available to play out of an otherwise large collection. Generally, the female characters are also notably weaker than the male characters. This is parodied in VG Catshere.
    • A pretty notable exception in Melty Blood, which has 14 unique characters (and a bunch of other alternate forms for those characters). Of this large cast, there are four unique males, three of them are antagonists. This may be because Melty Blood is based off of a Visual Novel.
    • Eventually averted by both of Namco's major fighting-game franchises, Tekken and SoulCalibur, which gradually developed more gender-balanced casts as they progressed. Albeit mostly for fanservice purposes...
  • Cracked's The 6 Most Bizarre Ways to Lose Popular Video Games describes a pub in the game Dishonored as containing "Havelock the leader, Piero the geeky inventor, and Callista the woman." * Of the gang of playable characters in Borderlands, three are male, with a fourth man driving the truck, and one is female - introduced as "The Siren," which is barely a gnat's whisker away from simply calling her "the token girl." The vast majority of enemies are male, too. Or arguably, in the case of the skags, not sexually dimorphic.

Tabletop GamesThe Smurfette PrincipleWebcomics

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy