The 10 Best Sword Art Online Characters, Ranked

Sword Art Online has left a lasting impact on anime fans with its captivating storyline and memorable cast of characters. From skilled swordsmen to cute archers, there are many great Sword Art Online characters with fleshed-out personalities, making it difficult to rank them.

But before we dive into the rankings, let’s talk about the anime itself.

Sword Art Online is a Japanese light novel series written by Reki Kawahara and illustrated by abec.

The anime takes place in the year 2022 when every gamer’s dream becomes real—gamers can now connect to a VRMMORPG game called Sword Art Online through a helmet called NerveGear, which can simulate users’ senses via their brain, and thus they can experience and control their in-game character with their minds.

Kazuto Kirigaya is a very keen gamer and so he is, of course, hyped. After the alpha version of SAO is released, 10 000 players including Kirito log in for the first time only to find out that the logout button is disabled. The creator of the game appears in-game and states that the only way to get out is to beat all 100 floors of Aincrad, an iron-and-stone floating castle that is the setting of SAO. He also says that if they die in-game or someone forcefully removes their NerveGear, they will also die in real life.

An anime television series produced by A-1 Pictures aired in 2012. Since then, 3 more seasons, several movies, and a spin-off series have aired. An anime film adaptation of Sword Art Online: Progressive titled Sword Art Online Progressive: Aria of a Starless Night is set to premiere on October 30, 2021. 

SAO is one of the most known anime and the king of isekai anime. It’s appealing to any MMORPG fan (or gamer) and incorporates a sweet romantic story into the plot quite nicely.

The ranks are decided based on MAL‘s popularity ranking.

Watch SAO on Amazon Prime Video

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best anime characters from Sword Art Online!

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Bonus: Rika (Lisbeth) Shinozaki

Lisbeth becomes a blacksmith and opens her own store in Lindhart (the 48th floor of Aincrad in SAO). This is rather untraditional since she is not a fighter like Asuna or Kirito.

She is a friendly and talkative girl who is confident in her abilities as a blacksmith.

Kirito seeks her help with creating a custom sword similar to his current one. She becomes a ‘tsundere’ after he breaks the best sword she offered him for testing, but quickly composes herself and vows to create a weapon that would surpass his blade.

After they gather the materials for the new sword, she puts her heart and soul into it. After all, she fell in love with him…

10. Ayano (Silica) Keiko

Have you ever played WoW or any other MMORPG as a hunter? That’s basically Silica in SAO.

She is a kind-hearted and bubbly girl who managed to tame a Feathered Little Dragon and named it Pina.

At some point, she becomes arrogant because of her fame and loses Pina. Kirito is the one who lends her a helping hand in reviving her little beast.

9. Tsuboi (Klein) Ryoutarou

Klein is one of the first and friendliest characters Kirito meets in SAO. And he is a NOOB at SAO. And a bachelor in real life. Man, how bad can it get for this guy?

Kirito is the one who teaches him the basics at the beginning. Since he is a casual he actually orders a pizza on his first day in SAO and tries to log out to pick it up only to find out that there is no log-out button anymore. This is when they both know that something’s wrong, which is confirmed by the mad creator of the game soon afterward.

They part ways but continue to meet because both of them are on the front lines later on in the game.

8. Suguha (Leafa) Kirigaya

Kirito’s cousin and a skilled kendo practitioner, Suguha is more of a real-life person and a social butterfly, which makes her quite unique in this Universe of hardcore gamers. She actually originally disliked VRMMO games.

She started playing ALO to understand Kirito’s experience in SAO better. Suguha becomes very good at ALO. One could say that she is a natural because she is great at kendo and it seems like the skill transferred to ALO. She even won the Sylph tournament!

7. Yui

Quite an adorable little girl you might think. Wrong. She is not human!

Yui is an AI who was supposed to address player mental health concerns in SAO. After SAO turns into a death game, she starts becoming melancholic because the Cardinal System forbids her from interacting with other players and she was constantly experiencing their misery, insanity, and anger without having a chance to comfort them.

That is until she meets Asuna and Yuuki in the forest who basically adopt her as their child. As her memory becomes more corrupted, she loses her past memories and acts like a normal child. It is only when Asuna and Kirito are in a life-and-death situation that she remembers again and saves them despite the orders to not interfere, risking her own life.

6. Yuuki Konno

Yuuki was one of the three founders and the 2nd leader of the «Sleeping Knights» guild. This small guild was special because it consisted of terminally ill patients who had previously met in Serene Garden, a virtual hospice for the terminally ill, and played various virtual reality games as a form of palliative care.

She and her guild eventually got their hands on ALfheim Online where she became known as Absolute Sword because of winning sixty-seven consecutive duels on the street, including one against Kirito. He even mentions that if she played SAO, she would be the one to receive the dual blades skill since her reaction speed was greater than his.

Even though she knew that she will die soon, she tried to live her life to the fullest and died peacefully, surrounded by all the friends she made in-game.

Yuuki is an intriguing character for me because she is a sick child with AIDS. How many cool anime characters who have a terminal (or taboo) disease exist in anime? I can probably count them on the fingers of one hand so I am really happy that a character like her exists!

5. Eugeo

Eugeo was introduced in the third season of SAO, just like #4, Alice.

He acts as the protagonist for the first half of SAO III after Kirito falls into a coma and is sent inside Project Alicization.

Kirito spent time with Eugeo in the virtual world of the Underworld, and the two became best buddies. They complete each other and work very well together.

Eugeo is a gentle and diligent boy who is very afraid of breaking rules. However, he eventually breaks them in order to save two girls from a dire situation, even though it means that he would have no future anymore and would never see (#4) Alice again.

4. Alice Zuberg

Alice first appears in the third season of the famous SAO series. She has 5563 fewer “favorites” on MAL compared to Sinon but is still among the most popular female characters of Sword Art Online.

She got turned into an Integrity knight after she broke one of the laws of the Taboo Index. Since then, she goes under a different name—Alice Synthesis Thirty. Being an Integrity knight means that she doesn’t have any previous memories and is completely loyal to the antagonist of the Alicization Arc—Quinella.

Without spoiling much, she is a serious but adventurous girl who does her best to protect her friends.

3. Shino (Sinon) Asada

If you have not seen SAO II, you would not know who she is. She becomes a Cait Sith archer in ALO where she is capable of hitting targets from 200m away despite her bow being limited to 100m.

Sinon is a skilled VRMMO player. She is a kind-hearted and compassionate individual who is usually calm and cool in-game, no matter the situation she is in. And you can guess who angers her for the first time, right? Of course, no one else than Kirito! After all, Kirito likes teasing and even angering others as a form of banter.

2. Asuna Yuuki

Asuna is the female lead in Sword Art Online. Many fans consider her to be the ideal “waifu” (anime term for an ideal romantic partner) due to her combination of beauty, modesty, politeness, and strength. Asuna is also a talented cook, which only adds to her appeal.

Throughout the series, Asuna develops a close relationship with the protagonist, Kirito, and viewers are treated to scenes of the two spending time together and battling alongside each other. In these scenes, Asuna showcases her exceptional sword-fighting skills and earns the nickname “The Flash” for her lightning-fast moves.

Fun fact: She is the 2nd most popular anime girl with brown eyes and 3rd most popular anime girl who has brown hair (according to MaL).

1. Kirigaya (Kirito) Kazuto

Out of all Sword Art Online Characters, Kirito is the most popular one among fans. He is also the protagonist of the series.

He used to be quite a hardcore gamer even before the whole SAO thing happened. After he got trapped in Aincrad, he was usually playing solo, leveling as quickly as possible and clearing the mobs/bosses efficiently. This, however, did not stop him from doing the right thing if he saw other people who needed help in-game. When he could, he tried to help out without wanting anything in return.

Kirito is extremely overpowered and skilled in-game. His personality brings this to perfection since he is calm and collected for the most part. And I forgot to mention that he loves to wear black clothes (me too!). This earns him the nickname ‘The Black Swordsman’ in Aincrad.

After he gets to know Asuna, the sub-leader of the «Knights of the Blood» guild, he falls in love with her, and the two end up dating and promise each other to find themselves in real life too.

I am not going to spoil more because I have already spoiled enough. 😀

Do you agree with this list? Is your favorite SAO character featured? Let me know!

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Mia Milanová
Mia Milanová

For years, I've been writing about anime & digital marketing, fusing my academic background (psychology) with my love for writing and anime (200+ shows devoured!). At 9 Tailed Kitsune, I share my love for anime and create a space for fans to connect. ✨

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    • oof, i actually forgot to include her or even check her out! i added her now, thank you so much for mentioning this! 🤍

      she was a very impactful character!

      • Oh no worries, no need to update it, it was fine as is 🙂👍 Thanks though!

        I agree with your sentiments about her, glad you liked her personality as well! For me especially, with the whole Catholic context surrounding her, as someone who belongs to that faith it meant a lot the show creators included that as a focal element of SAO II. Not to mention the music was beautiful too.

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