Jill Valentine is the original and longest-standing heroine of the Resident Evil franchise of video games, having also made appearances in various forms of spin-off media, including movies, novels and comics.
Jill begins the series as part of a special police unit that discovers a secret research facility conducting horrific experiments which have led to the development of a virus responsible for creating bio-organic weapons (BOWs) and capable of zombifying anyone who comes into contact with it. Exposing a vast conspiracy, Jill is betrayed by her team captain, Albert Wesker, but survives the ordeal, destroying the facility and setting out on a tireless mission to expose and shut-down those behind the incident and eradicate BOWs. Travelling the world to do so, and overcoming seemingly impossible odds, she eventually goes on to co-found an organisation dedicated to the cause, and thus becomes a leading and respected figure in the fight against bio-terror.
The first and perhaps most obvious reason to praise Jill is her physical prowess, proving herself time and again to be just as capable a fighter as any of her male counterparts. She’s not there to be the love interest, nor the token female presence. Instead, she brings her own distinct skills to the team, more than earning her place. With Resident Evil usually hailed as the game which coined and popularised the Survival Horror genre, she is also often considered the benchmark for female leads to live up to. The game’s developers have even talked about how they consciously designed the character to make her appealing to both male and female gamers alike; a rare example of female gamers’ interests being taken seriously.
Throughout the series, Jill shows herself to be brave, resilient, compassionate, and a fiercely loyal operative, even going as far as to seemingly sacrifice her own life to stop Wesker and rescue her long-standing friend and partner, Chris Redfield. She survives but is seized, enduring years of captivity and attempted brainwashing but ultimately resisting and fighting back, emerging all the more determined to stand for what is right.
Jill’s formidable skill and her obvious moral strength have combined to see her popularity remain strong for the 20 years since her debut. Here’s to the next 20.