50 Most Iconic Video Game Characters of the 21st Century

From a blocky hero beloved by millions to the most memorable monsters and heroes modern games have to offer

Carl Johnson
Carl "CJ" Johnson from 'Grand Theft Auto San Andreas'33/50

33. Carl Johnson

Born into poverty with a father he never knew, a mother who’s recently deceased, and a brother he accidentally killed, the cards are stacked against CJ from the start. And then cops turn up telling him that they’re going to frame him for the death of one of their colleagues. But over the course of of the game, as his path criss-crosses Los Santos, CJ’s stoicism and sense of honor helps him transcend his past, embracing greater things and elevating himself above the criminals he encounters. The GTA series' first black protagonist had a good run, and voice actor Young Maylay's performance was authentic and memorable.

Iconic moment: When his former friend Big Smoke dies at his hand, CJ says, "We was like family, homie," his sadness a sign of his humanity, even in the face of betrayal.

Back to Top