Ahh, the Tekken series… For many, a blast from the past of their fighting days gone by – that is, their long-forgotten style being Mixed Playstation Martial Arts – for others, a title which still thrills and enthralls them to the point of striking fighting poses of their favorite characters in front of the mirror.

With Tekken 8 having recently caused an outbreak of blushed cheeks, sweating brows, flexed muscles as well as spontaneous outbursts of air fighting among the spectators of the 2022 Tokyo Game Show – there is no better moment to introduce 15 coolest, strongest, or, to put it simply, best Tekken characters of all time.

Criteria of the selection? A number of appearances in the series, the overall badassery and the unapologetic bias of yours truly. Anyone needs more?… Great, let’s go!

15. Paul Phoenix

Series Debut:Tekken
Fighting Style:Modified Martial Arts based on Judo

With a half-foot high blond mohawk and a not-to-truck-with, leather-clad biker appearance, Paul Phoenix is one of the go-to characters by rookie as well as experienced players. His rugged demeanor serves as a splendid walking or, rather, fighting ad of the series, along with King, Jin Kazama, Yoshimitsu, and Nina.

One of the most pumped up contestants of The King of The Iron Fist Tournament, on a par with the “crowned” leopard-headed wrestler and the main antagonist of the series – Heihachi – Paul’s signature “Burning Fist” strike made many people lose a fortune to their mom’s swear jar, while your smart-ass friend smirked callously as you yet again reached into the pocket for your hard-earned allowance. Blimey!

14. Nina Williams

Series Debut:Tekken
Fighting Style:Assassination Arts based on Aikido and Koppojutsu

Don’t ever get fooled by the sultry look of this slender-figured, short-chinned blonde donned in a combination of cabaret costume and Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 skin-tight outfit. The unquestionably more charismatic of the Williams sisters, Nina’s spare style of throwing punches and her relatively high stance may dupe you into thinking that fighting her would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Ha, you wish! This silent assassin would stun you with a single blow first, and then, using her famous bone-crunching grapples, end your humiliation with her signature Twin Palm Smash or Twisted Mind AKA Heel Grind aimed at your crotch. Ouch!

13. Hwoarang

Series Debut:Tekken 3
Fighting Style:Taekwondo

The rubber-legged red-headed Taekwondo fighter is a master of giving off a laidback vibe and cocky approach. Introduced in Tekken 3, he quickly established a friendly rivalry with Jin Kazama.

His outfit consisting of leather chaps, spurred boots and pilot googles may be superseded only by his now legendary footwork. Throwing crescent, axe, back, push, turn, and, last but not least, roundhouse kicks that would put Chuck Norris to shame, Hwoarang is the master of them all. If you fight with someone who knows how to play Hwoarang well, you’re certainly going to end up licking his boots. Or rather, going to get licked by his boots. Literally!

12. Steve Fox

Series Debut:Tekken 4
Fighting Style:Boxing

To counterbalance the overbearing footwork of Taekwondo master with uppercuts, jabs and peekaboo stance, let’s meet Steve Fox. A professional boxer by trade, and a seeker of his unknown past in his spare time, Steve’s introduction in Tekken 4 was more than welcome.

Every fan of boxing hailed this day as Heaven coming to Earth. This blond-haired warrior with a gargantuan scar on his arm turns out to be a son of Nina Williams and Doctor Bosconovitch (no, he did NOT, he only took Nina’s ovum to create some super soldiers for Heihachi, and here we are, having Steve). Hell bent on hating Heihachi (we’ll high five you for that, Stevie!), he’ll knock out the teeth and bash in the skull of anyone who stands in his way.

11. Eddy Gordo

Series Debut:Tekken 3
Fighting Style:Capoeira

The dreaded Brazilian debuted in the third installment of the series, along with Hwoarang, another crazy-legged fighter, and immediately stole our hearts with an easygoing vibe and hyper-fancy fighting style.

The undeniable king of the cool, who raided 90’s skaters and 70’s pimps wardrobe, and can break your jaw with awesome acrobatic capoeira kicks. On a par with King when it comes to agility and eye-catching moves, Eddy is so cool you almost thank him for kicking your butt. Really! The only time you grind your teeth and gnaw at the pad cable in anger is when your noob friend picks him and obliterates you by pressing three buttons only.

10. Yoshimitsu

Series Debut:Tekken
Fighting Style:Advanced Manji Ninjutsu

Which Tekken fighter is so cool it was included in the other game series – Soul Calibur?

A catana or tachi wielder, using deadly blend of ninjutsu, kenjutsu and original stances from Kabuki dance, Yoshimitsu is another character which enriches Tekken franchise with a vast array of thunderous attacks and wild outfits ranging from traditional Japanese armor to over-the-top cthulhu-esque biomechanical contraptions. He may easily teleport behind your back to catch you off guard, or turn his back to you to perform harakiri on himself in order to kill you with a single sword thrust. Also, tell us, which one of you has never finished off that evil Mishima clan members with a convulsion-infusing face grab? Well, we did, with a smile as wide as Gun Jack’s shoulders, imitating Yoshimitsu’s taunting battle cries. Great memories!

9. Heihachi Mishima

Series Debut:Tekken
Fighting Style:Mishima Style Fighting Karate

A man behind The King of The Iron Fist Tournament and Mr. Bad Guy himself, Heihachi is the head of Mishima Zaibatsu and the owner of the most infuriating battle cry ever. All of his machinations perpetuate the plot, so he is pretty important, we guess (although we could never fathom why anyone bother about the plot in fighting games).

We never really liked this powerful puncher. Perhaps our pension for underdogs had something to do with it. Or was it Heihachi’s Hamilton-Norwood 6 ‘Statue of Liberty’ Hairstyle? Nonetheless, this 60+ fighter is ripped to the bone, better than Jay Cutler or Ronnie Coleman in their prime, and extremely deadly. Loved by few, even fewer know how to pull off any decent combo of his. Never underestimate him, though, or he will obliterate you in a matter of seconds.

8. Ling Xiayou

Series Debut:Tekken 3
Fighting Style:Baguazhang and Piguaquan-based Chinese Martial Arts

If a saying – which once described the great heavyweight boxing champion of the world Muhammad Ali best: ‘floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee’ – were to be applied to Xiayou, it would go as ‘floats like a hummingbird, stings like a hornet’.

A swift and nimble Chinese teenage girl (in later installments – young woman in her 20’s), entered the third King of the Iron Fist Tournament with the sole purpose of building her own amusement park with the prize money. She’s close friends with Panda and even closer ones with Jin Kazama. The bold user of the lowest stance in the franchise (apart from the off-the-rocker Doctor Bosconovitch), Xiayou’s fast fists and lethal legs are one of the last things you are going to feel on your body and face if you don’t know how to handle the pad. All this while having her back to you. And you’d better not hassle the Panda. Ever!

7. Leroy Smith

Series Debut:Tekken 7
Fighting Style:Wing Chun

Hold on to your butts, the fresh prince of badassery is in the house! At first, a Wing Chun master Leroy Smith may seem like a less movable, more arthritic uncle of Eddy Gordo’s, who share with him the same passion for flashy clothes, but don’t let that image fool you for a second. He will kick your ass in an instant, given the fact that he was an object of significant controversy when introduced in Tekken 7.

Hailed by conservative Tekkenians a “balance disaster”, apparently, the character of Leroy was given a slight power advantage which only added to its notoriety. Well, kids, grow up and treat it as a lesson in patience and perseverance. However, if you fail that lesson, his bulldog will definitely piss on your toothless cadaver.

6. Panda

Series Debut:Tekken 3
Fighting Style:Heihachi-style Improved Kuma Shinken

Xiayou’s friend and bodyguard, Panda is a character fighting-wise interchangable with Kuma – Heihachi’s pet grizzly bear, although much more lovable (c’mon, everyone loves Pandas!). Its imposing posture, long reach and deadly claws make her a formidable opponent.

Some of her moves are absolutely hilarious: the one in which she rolls her adversary between her paws like a ragdoll only to throw him/her 10 meters away. Or the one in which she does the Irish Moonwalk (We swear it looks exactly like this!) and bodyslams you in the process. Oh, and if you think Panda is a low tier, joke character, get this: a gamer named Rangchu won the 2018 Tekken World Tour Finals playing Panda. Now go pick up your jaws from the floor.

5. Kazuya Mishima

Series Debut:Tekken
Fighting Style:Mishima Style Fighting Karate

Another Mishima brat on the list. And in further installments of the series, the main candidate for the Father of The Year award. Truly, the proverb ‘like father, like son’ didn’t come out of thin air… To sum him up as quickly as possible: quoth Jeremy Clarkson: ‘POWERRRRR!’, main character, the Devil Gene possessor which turns him into Devil Kazuya, blah, blah, blah…

For us the only interesting thing about him is the fact that he was based on the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima. Kazuya always seemed too flashy (dark flashy, that is), too intentionally malevolent for our taste. Although, his visual design as a character is simply flawless, We’ll give him that. Plus he has tons of fans around the world and that’s saying something about him too. There, We’re done. You may stone us now for not fangirling him.

4. Bryan Fury

Series Debut:Tekken 3
Fighting Style:Kickboxing

A scarfaced psychopath, once a police detective, now a zombie cyborg, Bryan Fury is a character nobody likes to deal with. We meet him first in Tekken 3, as his main goal is to become completed and have his life prolonged. So he kinda resembles Roy Batty and Edward Scissorhands rolled into one, right? Wrong!

His sinister laugh immediately gives his true colors away. We have never been really keen on getting to know how to play him well. There was something off-putting about him we cannot quite put our finger on. Although his Fisherman’s Slam – a gut-ripping uppercut to the stomach combined with a throw over his left shoulder – is one of the coolest moves in the whole franchise and it alone earns him the place on this list.

3. Ogre

Series Debut:Tekken 3
Fighting Style:unknown/eclectic

The main baddie form the third installment of the series and a minor one from Tekken Tag Tournament 2. A powerful ancient being, his real name Toshin meaning “God of Fighting”, Ogre really is bad to the bone.

Not only does he end lives of many martial arts masters, but he also steals their moves along the way. This results in one of the most eclectic fighting styles ever seen in the franchise. All powerful (even Heihachi is jealous!), his true form caused so many sleepless nights in front of the console he really should look into covering the electricity bills.

2. Jin Kazama

Series Debut:Tekken 3
Fighting Style:Advanced Mishima style karate/Kazama style traditional martial Arts/Kyokushin Karate

Let’s get it over with once and for all with the (re)spawning Mishima brood on this roster, shall we? Jin Kazama simply cannot NOT be on the list. The character around which revolves main story of almost all Tekkens.

Being on the warpath with Ogre for killing his mother, and later his grandfather and father for being evil pricks, his main goal is to end Mishimas dastardly dominance once and for all. Yes, yes, and everyone knows too, that if you press left arrow and square and circle you’re gonna throw Jin’s signature Lightning Screw Uppercut. Also, he sports nice outfits.

1. King

Series Debut:Tekken
Fighting Style:Pro-Wrestling (Lucha Libre style)

One of THE Tekken characters without which the series would never retain its undeniable awesomeness. Hefty yet agile, King’s spectacularly acrobatic pro-wrestler fighting style caused constant hustles between us and our friends over which one of us could pick him (we had an unbreakable rule: a character chosen once, could never be chosen again during single gaming session).

Not to mention hundreds of hours spent on perfecting his ridiculously finger-twisting combos, multi throws and grapples. Christ, the total of pads we have damaged learning to play King is exceeded only by the number of spines and bones the bulky wrestler has broken in the ring. Control-wise, one of the most demanding yet most rewarding characters in the series, King is The Ultimate Warrior (a wink to WWF fans 😉 ) of Tekken and The Undertaker ( 😉 ) to those who think they could mess around with him. To quote yet another awesome badass – ‘Hail to the King, baby!’