I’ve made no bones about the fact that I love the Ace Attorney franchise. Though I came in late with the second game, Justice For All, I quickly got the first one, then Trials and Tribulations, and then got Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice. Oh, and the Professor Layton crossover and the first Miles Edgeworth solo game. I loved the series so much that I ranked the games in the series (Spirit of Justice is missing, the list was done before that), and, I ranked the prosecutors that helped make the game great.
I truly love Ace Attorney, so when Capcom announced that the next official game in the series would come to the Nintendo Switch, I was pumped, and I’m already anticipating the over-the-top cases that will be had. But, what makes the series truly special is the characters that fill it up. And some of them truly stand out above the rest. So, I’m going to count down my favorite Ace Attorney characters.
Now, before anyone shouts, “OBJECTION!”, I make this note. I’m only including characters from the main six games and the first Miles Edgeworth Investigation game, as those are the only main titles I’ve played. Yes, I played Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton, but I would call that a spinoff in the non-pure sense. So, let the judging begin.
Honorable Mention: Shi-Long Lang
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ace Attorney Investigations, especially since the game would focus on the detective work that’s done outside of a courtroom instead of figuring it out inside of it. What made it really intriguing though was the rivalry between Miles Edgeworth and Shi-Long Lang.
Lang is a wolf in just about every way that matters, and his dogged determination of justice led him to the top ranks of Interpol. Yet, you might be surprised that he’s actually a very caring individual. He has 100 subordinates, and he knows their names, families, birthdays, and family birthdays…that’s impressive.
He also is wise despite his aggressive nature, often reciting philosophy to help people understand his actions.
Oh, and he took a bullet once to ensure that a criminal was brought in alive, then shrugged it off like it was nothing!
So, think he’s not worthy of the list? NOT SO FAST!
*cue dramatic music*
You might be surprised that my “Top Prosecutor” made the bottom of the list here. Well, you have to remember, I put him as the top PROSECUTOR, not the top character. Among the prosecutors, he was the one I always enjoyed going up against, and though he’s at the bottom here, he’s still one of my favorite Ace Attorney characters.
The tale of Godot is a tragedy, he was once a famous defense attorney, one who worked alongside Mia Fey in her first year as an attorney. But, a murder case literally ruined his life. He was poisoned, and should’ve died, but instead went into a coma. When he awoke, his health was wrecked, Mia was dead, and her killer walked free.
So, he plotted revenge, but when the immediate revenge couldn’t happen, he chose a turnabout of revenge, all aimed at Phoenix Wright.
Godot’s hatred of Wright slowly got exposed, and it truly showed the tragedy of the man behind that visor. But, in the end, he was able to accept his wrongdoings, and even toasted Phoenix for his victories, and honoring the spirit of Mia. Speaking of whom…
9. Mia Fey
Mia Fey is arguably one of the most important characters in the Ace Attorney series, which is interesting, because she’s dead for most of it. The reason she’s important though is that it was her belief in clients and their innocence that inspired many people. Including Godot (when he was known by his real name Diego Armando) as well as Phoenix Wright himself.
In fact, Mia defended Phoenix during a murder trial, and her passionate defense inspired him to follow his true dream of becoming an attorney to “save a friend”, and later became part of Mia’s own agency.
Yet, fate would not be kind to her, she died while trying to solve a case…but…she also is part of a family of spirit mediums, so she kept coming back for a while. And I loved every minute of it.
Mia is passionate, especially when it comes to cases, she’ll go to great lengths to find the clues necessary to solve a case the right way. But don’t think for a second she’s soft, she’s gone up against Miles Edgeworth, Winston Payne (whose undefeated streak was broken by her), and even stared down the devil herself and didn’t blink.
Though she didn’t leave the world the way she wanted, Mia can rest easy knowing that her legacy is in the people she left behind.
8. Ema Skye
Ema’s story is one that proves how this series has evolved since its early days. She was brought in for the DS version of the game via the fifth case “Rise From The Ashes”. By the end, she was sent off to Europe to become a Forensic Investigator.
Fast forward three games to Apollo Justice, and Ema was back, and all grown up. She was now a detective, and would eventually become a Forensic Investigator like she wanted. And I can’t help but love her, cause she’s so great.
Her passion for science is funny every single time, and not to mention, it’s very useful. She’s a key reason why many cases are solved. But…she can be a bit volatile at times. Early in her career she hated not being “allowed” to do forensic science…so she did it anyway. And she didn’t like the prosecutors she was with, even calling Klavier Gavin a “glimmerous fop”.
But what sets Ema apart for me is her loyalty to her job and to her friends. She still respects Phoenix for what he did for her in “Rise From The Ashes”, and during Spirit of Justice, Ema was asked to testify against Trucy Wright, and almost broke down in tears at the thought of it, because she knew she was innocent.
Needless to say, that tugged on my heartstrings. And for that reason and more, she’s on this list.
7. Pearl Fey
Time for some childlike innocence.
And that really applies to Pearl Fey, aka Pearls (why add the extra letter for a nickname?). One of the biggest additions to the series via Justice For All, Pearls is the cousin to Maya Fey. But just because she’s small, doesn’t mean she’s helpless.
Pearls actually has a very gung-ho spirit in some things, not to mention the fact that her tiny body houses an enormous amount of spiritual energy. She’s literally a “one-in-a-million” spirit medium because of all that energy, which has been helpful when people like Mia needed to be summoned in tight spots.
More than that, Pearls is just adorable. She was raised in a very secluded village via Kurain, and as such, doesn’t get the more nuanced phrases and words that city folk like Phoenix Wright has. Also, she has a very limited idea of what love and romance is…to the extent that she felt Phoenix and Maya were meant to be a couple…and heaven help you if you were going to threaten that image in Pearl’s head.
By the time Spirit of Justice came around, Pearls was a teenage, and a bit wiser to the world. I don’t know if we’ll see her again, but it’ll be a joy if we do.
6. Kristoph Gavin/Dahlia Hawthorne
You have heard of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, right? Well, this is Mr. and Mrs. Devil.
The Ace Attorney series needs great prosecutors and defense attornies, but also, they need criminals. The ones that are beyond contempt and that you hate with your very soul. And of the entire series, these two are the worst. Sorry Manfred Von Karma fans, these two got him beat.
Kristoph Gavin was a well-respected defense attorney, and had made his name for being the coolest man in the courtroom. But, when a high-profile case didn’t go his way via a dismissal by his client, he plotted revenge against him and all who were attached to his defense. His plan for revenge lasted 7 years until he was caught by the duo of Apollo Justice and Phoenix Wright, but it was anything but easy.
Then, there’s Dahlia. Remember in the Mia section I said she “stared down the devil herself”? That’s Dahlia. This sweet-looking girl is anything but, she’s a monster, pure and simple, willing to lie, cheat, betray, and con anyone that gets in her path so that she can get what she wants. Nothing in life mattered to her except herself. And only through the combined efforts of Mia Fey and Phoenix Wright was she finally taken down.
So, why do these two characters stand out above all the other villains? Well, they’re just that evil. When Kristoph gets exposed, he literally goes mad, and shows the world his true colors. Even when he’s convicted, he can’t help but laugh. As for Dahlia, the girl is the devil. Her true self was so evil IT BURNED BUTTERFLIES!!!! BURNED THEM! And when we found out that she had been summoned back from the dead, you couldn’t help but wonder if she would never truly die. Making it oh so satisfying when you literally got to watch her burn and get her demented soul back to the depths.
Apollo Justice and Trials and Tribulations were great games on their own, but these characters pushed them over the top.
5. Apollo Justice
It’s a well-known fact, that after Trials and Tribulations, the Ace Attorney series was supposed to end. The creator planned a trilogy, and he fulfilled it. But, Capcom had other ideas, but they knew they had to shake things up, like bring in a new main character. Enter, Apollo Justice.
I know a lot of people don’t like Apollo because he basically “replaced” Phoenix for one game, but come on, the kid has heart, and Chords of Steel! Never forget that!
Now, I’ll admit, his first outing wasn’t the best, but by the time Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice came around, he got to shine on a much brighter stage. And I’m grateful. Apollo is steadfast in his pursuit of justice, he was even the guy who got Kristoph Gavin convicted, twice! Add to that, he’s always wiling to keep going, no matter what pressure is put on him. His signature “I’m Fine!” line may sound cheesy, but the story behind it is meaningful.
Furthermore, when his adopted brother kept trying to force him to stop his defense, he defiantly refused, for just like Mia and Phoenix before him, he will never stop trying to prove the innocence of his client.
On a story note, Apollo has some of the most growth in the entire series, even leaving the Wright Law Offices to help restore the justice system in his homeland. But…something tells me he’ll be back.
4. Athena Cykes
I find it interesting that the “second chapter” in both Ace Attorney trilogies brought forth an epic female for us to love and adore. In the second trilogy, that’s Athena Cykes.
Now, you might look at her and thinks he’s a brightly colored fangirl of sorts, but she’s actually an attorney, and a genius when it comes to psychology. In fact, her ears (I kid you note) are so sensitive to people’s voices that she can hear when they’re lying via the emotional state. Through this, she made a device called Widget, where she can help visualize their emotions and help them get through the trauma they’re feeling in order to see the truth.
What sets Athena apart from the others in my mind though is her backstory. For this is a girl who was born with a condition few could understand, then her mother died, and a person she knew was innoncent went to jail for the crime. She was destroyed in every way. Yet, she picked herself back up, studied law, and fought to get her friend Simon Blackquill freed, and she did.
Athena is a both a ray of sunshine and a ball of energy all wrapped up into one. It’s great to see. And with Apollo now out of the agency, it’s her turn to step up and truly make her case as one of the best attornies in the game.
3. Maya Fey
What’s there to say about Maya Fey? Except that it honestly doesn’t feel like an Ace Attorney game without her.
Maya is the right hand of Phoenix for the first three games, using her spirit medium skills to help out in key situations, as well as offer advice to Phoenix when he’s feeling down. They’re truly best friends, and throughout the series, you feel that Maya is becoming your best friend too.
More than anything else though, Maya is a girl who will never give up. Ever. Now, Athena had a singular tragedy happen to her. Maya has been accused of murder in every single game she’s been in. Including the most recent title Spirit of Justice. She was accused of killing her sister Mia, a client, her own mother, and then an esteemed monk. This girl cannot catch a break!
Yet, her belief in Phoenix and her innocence carried her through all of it. And that’s inspiring. She even taught a priestess a lesson or two in humility. You go Maya!
I mentioned earlier that Ema Skye had one of the most heartbreaking moments in the series, Maya has the other. During Trials and Tribulations, after she had been freed from the evil spirit possessing her (Dahlia Hawthrone), she was asked her profession. She replied she worked at Wright & Co. But when she was asked about her being a spirit medium, she stated, “I want nothing to do with it.” She witnessed first hand twice the curse of the Fey family name, and it scarred her so badly that she wanted to stop.
Thankfully, Phoenix cleared her name all those times, and inspired her to continue on in her spirit medium ways. And now, she’s a full master of the Kurain Channeling Technique, and I couldn’t be prouder.
Oh, and she’s an epic fangirl, long live Silver Samurai!
2. Miles Edgeworth
One of the fan-favorite characters of the entire Ace Attorney series, it’s no surprise that Miles Edgeworth is at this spot on the list. For while some character stories are tragic (and his certainly is), his story is more redemptive than others.
Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth were friends in their youth. But, when Miles father died, his life changed forever. Gone was the desire to be a defense attorney, and in came one of the most ruthless prosecutors the courtroom had ever seen. Trained by the infamous Manfred Von Karma, Edgeworth became a one man “Guilty!” machine. That is, until Phoenix came back into his life.
Through the actions of his friend, Edgeworth began to question everything he knew, and slowly but surely became the righteous prosecutor of justice that fans love. By the time Justice For All arrive, the transformation was complete, and everything that came after was proof of the justice, true justice, Edgeworth sought.
Now serving as the High Prosecutor, Edgeworth is more determined than ever to rid the office of corrupt prosecutors. He had a big hand in ending the “Dark Age Of The Law”, and helped Phoenix get his attorey badge back after he wrongfully lost it.
Fans love Edgeworth so much that he got his own duo of solo games, which fans appropriately loved. And they’ll continue to love Edgeworth every time he shows up.
I know it’s cliche, but come on, was there ever any doubt he should be up here at the top? Save your “Hold It!” for later.
Phoenix Wright is the character we play as most in the series. And even in Apollo Justice, where’s technically a side character, we still see him a lot, and even play one of his past cases. Phoenix is the embodiment of what the law should be. Pure, true, and a desire to see justice done the right way. Through his eyes, and his pointer finger, we are able to get the truth revealed, and make sure that the true criminals get locked up for good, and it’s satisfying every single time.
Now, there is some debate about how clever Phoenix actually is, and how much of his skills actually translate to the courtroom. For proof (by the end of the last game at least) of his genius skills, I point to Apollo Justice and Spirit of Justice. The former had him playing his own version of a “long con” to get justice for what happened to him and the Grammayre line. And it was brilliant. Then, in Spirit of Justice, he was able to use the law numerous times to extend a case he was clearly going to lose. You can’t do that if you’re not crafty.
And while it’s true that we the players are the ones figuring out most of the stuff, Phoenix does figure out many things on his own.
As the series advancement, he became more than just a lawyer, he became a mentor to Apollo and Athena, as well as a father to Trucy, his adopted daughter. His faith in them and their abilities is endless, and we see that in the games.
In the end, though Edgeworth is a great character, this series wouldn’t have worked if Phoenix wasn’t just as great, and 6 main games, a spinoff, an appearance in MVC3, an anime, a manga, and a live-action movie later, there’s no doubt that THE Ace Attorney character is Phoenix Wright.
Ok, it’s time for your cross-examination. Do you agree with my verdict? Or you wish to overturn it? Do let me know.