For this article, we’re going to give you Dead or Alive, a fast-paced 3D fighter that is best known for its female fighters. Sadly, it doesn’t get the respect that it deserves for being an addicting and thrilling fighting game because of its fan service. Team Ninja only furthered this with their spin-offs, Dead or Alive Xtreme 1-3.
The series in our eyes has always been about the simplicity and the pick-up and play mentality, that even the average fighting fan can give it a try and enjoy. With the 20th anniversary on the horizon for this long-standing franchise and the series creator, Tomonobu Itagaki no longer at the helm, it should be an interesting journey to see where Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja take this in the future.
This top 10 list we’ve compiled brings you the best of the Dead or Alive universe in terms of characters. This series has a large variety of fighters from around the world with many unique personalities. With that being said, our criteria for the rankings is based on character longevity, personality, style and the impact they’ve had in this series and beyond. We hope you enjoy this list of the Top 10 Best Dead or Alive Characters!
Kick-starting this list off is a Canadian Taekwondo practitioner who made his series debut in Dead or Alive 5. I should note that this is the only fighter from DOA5 that we incorporated for this list. Sorry Mila and the DLC characters that came out after, we think they have a compelling story to tell but it isn’t enough to honor them on here just yet. With that being said, we feel that Rig is a worthy inclusion due to being a vital piece to the overall story in the latest DOA game. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that he is called Rig in the game, it’s actually not his real name. It’s currently unknown, like a lot of his past. “Rig” was just given out to him as a nickname from fellow co-workers on the oil rig. Oil rig, RIG, get it?
Rig is the son of prime antagonist Victor Donovan and with that brings a lot of heat to him towards the end of the game. His personality initially seemed laid-back and light-hearted while working with Bass, but later he revealed a much darker side towards the likes of Hayate and Kasumi. In that regard, he seems to very much carry the same DNA of Victor Donovan. We believe Rig will become an essential villain in DOA6.
9. Tina Armstrong
Next on this list is Tina, the daughter of the greatest professional wrestler who has ever lived, Bass Armstrong. Tina made her debut in the very first Dead or Alive video game back in 1996. Since then she has become a very popular character in her own right, partially due to her voluptuous body. Her mix of beauty and strength is a lethal combination for being a pro-wrestler. She has many fans, including Mila and Zack.
Miss Armstrong is notable for being the only member of the DOA roster to have a complete hair color change, going from brown to blonde in DOA1 and 2 respectively. Her original goal when she entered the first DOA Tournament was to become a famous Hollywood starlet. She has an extroverted personality and she really stands out for the love of being in the spotlight, in some cases much to her father’s displeasure. Tina has had many aspirations over the years that include, being a model, an actress, a rock star and finally running to be the state governor. “Superstar of a Thousand Dreams” is a completely fitting nickname for her.
Christie is a professional assassin who uses the martial art of She Quan. Her snake kung fu fighting style is very appropriate for her serpent-like personality. Christie was introduced in 2001’s Dead or Alive 3 as the cover girl. It made sense for all the right reasons since she was an integral part of the DOA universe, most specifically to Helena Douglas’s story. She was hired by Victor Donovan to take out Helena, although she hasn’t been successful, Christie was able to kill Helena’s mother, Maria. Christie continues to stalk Helena throughout the series in hopes to finally completing her mission.
Christie is the tallest of the women fighters in the DOA series. She stands at 5'10 (177cm) and she uses all of that given height to take advantage of her targets. She takes her job as an assassin seriously and enforces ruthlessness upon her missions. She knows how to get the job done, even if it involves using her looks, charm and sex appeal. Her cold-blooded nature and ruthless intent have led her to become one of the few female villains of the series. From kidnapping Kasumi, Irene and killing Maria, it’s safe to say that she’s a shoo-in for being one vile femme fatale.
Number seven goes to the long-time assassins now turned mercenary Bayman. He was born and raised in Russia; there he witnessed the death of his parents at a young age. After joining the military he got discharged and used his training in Sambo and elite skills to further himself as an assassin. It was then that Victor Donovan hired him to take out DOATEC (Dead or Alive Tournament Executive Committee) chairman and father of Helena, Fame Douglas. Bayman did what he was tasked to do and murdered Fame from a long distance shot with a sniper rifle. Despite his successful mission, he was left behind and was ordered to be assassinating by the one who hired him. From then on, Bayman has been on a mission to get his revenge on Victor.
Bayman made his video game debut in the inaugural DOA game in 1996 and has been involved in a very deceitful-laden story throughout the evolution of the series. He’s proved that ultimately money isn’t the only thing that fuels his motives. He’s gone from killing Helena’s father, to becoming her bodyguard to spawning a rivalry with another assassin in Christie and finally seeking revenge on Victor Donovan. It’s safe to say that the man called Bayman has been a busy fighter and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon.
Raidou is a former member of the Mugen Tenshin Ninja Clan and father of Ayane and uncle to Kasumi and Hayate. Remorseful and relentless Raidou rose up the ranks in the ninja clan doing things his own way. This included critically injuring his sparring partners. You could tell right then and there that he was headed down a dark path. One night while his brother Shiden was away he approached Ayame, Shiden’s wife with sinister intentions. He forced himself onto her and raped her. Once the clan got word of his heinous actions, he was exiled from the clan.
Raidou has the unique ability to steal his opponent’s techniques and 16 years after being banished he returned back to his former stomping grounds. He nearly killed Hayate using the clan’s most prominent attack called the “Torn Sky Blast”. His path of terror was thought to be over after Kasumi, with the help of Ryu Hayabusa killed her uncle. However, Victor Donovan reassembled his body with cybernetics and he lost most of his memories in the process. There’s no question that Raidou is one of the most menacing characters in the entire DOA franchise. From his dark personality and demeanor to his reprehensible actions towards his family and clan, it’s only a matter of time until he clashes with his former clan once more.
Halfway through the list and we’ve come across the first of the honorable ninjas in this series. Hayate has taken his assimilation to the Mugen Tenshin Clan leader with a powerful sense of duty. He is devoted to the clan and his family, especially when it comes to his sisters, Kasumi, and Ayane. Hayate is typically seen wearing shinobi body armor, which includes shin and wrist guards, as well as chainmail. As Ein, he is seen either in a traditional Karate gi or in street clothes, such as jeans and sometimes an unbuttoned jacket. It gave the impression that in the Ein persona he was more laid-back.
Ein made his debut in DOA2 after the events that had transpired between him and Raidou. Raidou left him with a cracked spine and in a coma. He later was transferred to a DOATEC Germany where he would undergo extensive research under the title “Project Epsilon” which was headed by none other than Victor Donovan. Suffering from amnesia, he met Hitomi while in Germany and trained under her father in the art of Karate. He regained his memories while fighting with Kasumi in the second DOA Tournament. It was then that you could play as Hayate in DOA3.
4. Helena Douglas
The French female fighter known as Helena Douglas cracks the list at number four. Ever since her debut in DOA2, she has been a major player in the game's story mode. Despite what some may think, it’s not ALL about the ninjas. Helena is very much a sympathetic character who carries a lot of angst, regret and sadness with her. I mean who can blame her? The main antagonist of the series Victor Donovan had both her parents killed by two separate assassins, because of sheer greed and power.
It isn’t all bad for this elegant young lady. Despite her past, she carries on and takes over her father’s role as the head of DOATEC. It’s then that she meets her biological half-sister Kokoro and more of her life starts to become clearer. Helena utilizes Pi Gua Quan, attacking with quick and smooth flowing strikes. She employs it impressively to become the victor of the fourth DOA Tournament. However, she gives up the title to Zack, since her goal was to focus on rebuilding and making the new DOATEC stronger than ever. It’s a tremendous achievement for her character, that she’s been able to overcome her sorrowful past and become one of the finest fighters in the series.
The main protagonist and former Mugen Tenshin Clan member known as Kasumi makes her way onto the list at number three. She was labeled a “runaway shinobi” because of her desire to avenge her older brother Hayate, after the attack on the village from her exiled uncle, Raidou. She did exact her revenge on Raidou, only to have it revealed later on that Hayate did survive after all. Oh well, what’s done is done right? She got a tremendous release from disposing of that sinister presence. Beyond that, Kasumi is an honorable and compassionate individual who does not wish to fight. She is a highly skilled kunoichi and shouldn’t be taken lightly, despite her resentment for fighting.
Kasumi had a strong backing by series creator Tomonobu Itagaki, as he’s claimed her to be his favorite. Kasumi can be considered the face of the franchise going all the way back to the original DOA game in the arcades in 1996. She’s played an immense role in the overall story, including being the first DOA Tournament champion and having several clones based off of her thanks to Victor Donovan. It would seem no matter how you look at it, Kasumi and Ayane are destined to have a rivalry that spawns even outside of the video game, thanks to the large fan-base who remain loyal to only one of them.
Ayane was the winner of the third DOA Tournament and current member of the Mugen Tenshin Ninja Clan. Growing up with her half-sister Kasumi, they generally had a great relationship and it wasn’t until later on when Ayane found out about her heritage that things went a bit sour. Ayane was labeled the “cursed child” and mistreated by the clan from being the daughter of Raidou . It was then that she turned all that animosity towards Kasumi. Ayane is the only other character in this franchise that could rival Helena’s past in regards to heartbreak and triumph.
Ayane is the youngest female and second youngest fighter in the series. Her personality does show her youth and inexperience since she has been known to have several lapses in judgment throughout the story. She made her debut on the original PlayStation DOA video game in 1998. Since then she has become one of the most popular characters in the series. That show of popularity extends her to other games such as DOA Xtreme series, Ninja Gaiden series, Warriors Orochi 3, Senran Kagura Estival Versus as DLC and finally a part in Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. We felt with all the attention Ayane has received the last several years, she was deserving of the number two rank.
1. Ryu Hayabusa
With high regard, we give the number one spot to the Ninja Gaiden and DOA star Ryu Hayabusa. It’s tough to argue against this selection since he has been one of the mainstays and faces of both franchises consistently. He is one of the most iconic ninjas in video game history, dating all the way back to 1988. Hayabusa is a dragon-human hybrid who wields the legendary “Dragon Sword”. He has wisdom of a man far older than himself due to his prolific lineage. He’s a free-flowing individual who looks out for his best friend Hayate and the rest of the ninjas in the franchise.
Hayabusa is viewed as a mentor to some and a very tranquil person, but you wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. His superior strength and skill were demonstrated against a rogue tengu named Bankotsubo in DOA2. To no real surprise, he vanquished the 1500-year-old tengu. One of his larger milestones in the DOA series came during DOA2 where he claimed victory in the second DOA Tournament. With that win, he cemented his legacy as both a ninja and fighter of this universe. His style, fighting skill, lineage and impact on video games give him the edge as the best Dead or Alive character.
It should come as no surprise that the bottom portion of this list involves the ninjas in the series. Look no further than the developer, Team Ninja. They’ve always put a high emphasis on the ninjas and that probably won’t change anytime soon. With five females and five males making this list, we think we brought enough for everyone to enjoy.
With the wide variety of fighters in the Dead or Alive universe, who ultimately reigns supreme on your end? Give us a shout in the comments section below, we’d love to hear your opinion.