One year ago today, Nintendo released Animal Crossing: New Horizons to a world in desperate need of some sunshine and an escape from a harsh reality. As a result, the game quickly became one of the Switch’s best-selling titles of all-time, and now rests beneath only Mario Kart 8 Deluxe — and not by a large margin. Animal Crossing: New Horizons serves as an example of how games can bring light into our world and connect us to one another even when we’re apart, whether we’re visiting each other’s islands or checking who has the highest turnip prices in the family group chat. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game all about connections, but the ones found in the real world aren’t the only ones worth noting.
Since the series inception back in 2001, the villagers of Animal Crossing have stood out as some of the most comforting folks in all of video games. A lot of this is due to the sheer number and variety of them; whether you’re all about easily excitable bears or crime-fighting bunnies, there exists a furry friend that calls to you. Last year, the Animal Crossing crew’s signature snark and friendship became so important to so many of us.
In celebration of those friendships and one year of New Horizons, we’re taking you on a trip. Pack your bags, grab your Dodo ticket, and get ready to revisit some of the fantastic friends we made last year as we rank the ten best Animal Crossing: New Horizons villagers.
Knox has the personality of a knight long ready for retirement and that’s what makes him great. A grumpy chicken villager, Knox has come from the Middle Ages to start a new life on your island and be crotchety. However, beneath his grumpy exterior and gold helmet lies an even more golden heart.
With literal porcelain skin and a polite demeanor, Tia is the perfect island pal to enjoy a spot of tea with—which is kind of her thing. Tia is a normal elephant villager, with her entire appearance based on a porcelain teapot. When not being exceptionally kind and serving up a hot cuppa’ in her cafe-inspired home, Tia enjoys waking up early and exploring the island.
Our rotund friend Roald is a jock penguin villager, potentially named after the polar explorer Roald Amundsen. Now, I’ve heard some folks are terrified of Roald and his all-seeing eyes and I can’t say I blame you, but to me, Roald is absolutely hilarious. Despite looking like a guy who’s seen far too much, Roald is actually a pretty energetic and confident little penguin. He enjoys talking about sports and drawing attention to his bulging muscles rather than his bulging eyes.
Octopus types are few and far between in the Animal Crossing series and Marina reigns supreme as the most endearing of the bunch. Marina has a normal personality, and therefore is one of the kindest and easiest to befriend villagers in the game. With bubblegum-pink skin, an adorable pastel sweater, and a deep love of music, Marina is truly the town idol and brings love and a whole lot of pink whenever she goes.
Lucky is a lazy dog villager and, conceptually, one of the funniest characters in the Animal Crossing series. While the name Lucky is commonly given to rascally pups who have a close brush with death, our pal Lucky wasn’t quite so… lucky. However, this undead pooch doesn’t let his untimely demise and the skeletons in his closet (literally, go check out his house) stop him from being one of the most laidback villagers around.
The lovely Diana is a snooty deer villager with white fur, lilac hair, long lashes, and a somewhat enchanted aura about her. Elegant, tidy, fashionable, and well-educated, her refined tastes aren’t for everyone—and not everyone is for her. Diana can come across a bit harsh during the early stages of friendship, but this self-care queen can prove quite charming as time moves on.
Beau is a lazy deer villager with the sleepiest eyes and a personality as warm as his knitted sweaters. When not telling jokes and talking about food, he enjoys exploring the island and studying the various flowers, bugs, fish, and fossils. His home is a further testament to his outdoorsy nature, with a picnic blanket, sleeping bag, cozy fire, and boombox all ready for a night under the stars. Or ceiling.
Pekoe is a normal cub villager with an exceptionally kind personality and an absolutely gorgeous look. Based presumably on Chinese fashion, Pekoe sports dark hair pulled up into traditional ox horn buns, rosy blush, and silk dress. Furthermore, Pekoe is a master of winged eyeliner and a lover of nature, and is frequently found wandering the island with other nature-loving villagers.
Despite his permanent scowl, Marshal the smug squirrel is a perfect gentleman, which honestly makes him all the more endearing. Marshal is polite, kind, and gets along with just about everyone he bumps into—just so long as they find him as cool as he finds himself. Marshal also has one of the coziest homes in the game, with a coffee shop atmosphere and a piano ready for the music lover to play in the corner.
There are two things that set Merry apart from all the other Animal Crossing villagers and make her, in my opinion, the all time greatest: Her permanent smile and her tiny, double chin. Regardless of her mood, Merry is the only villager to always be smiling, and, just beneath that smile, is a faint and absolutely adorable double chin you just want to give scratches to. Merry is a peppy cat villager with an interest in fashion, a tendency to get over-excited, and a lot of love to give.
Rodrigo García directs from a script he co-wrote with Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writer Eli Saslow.
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