All the Dragon Age love interests, ranked in order of best to Anders

An entirely objective list based on writing, performance, and CG-rendered hotness

Dragon Age is probably my favorite videogame franchise.

Granted, I don’t play many videogames at all, but of the few I have played, I love Dragon Age the best. I could list all the myriad reasons why this series (and the Mass Effect trilogy) opened my eyes and changed my mind about just what videogames could be, what stories they could tell, and how, but no.

The real reason I love Dragon Age is romance.

Why did no one tell me romancing was a game mechanic???? You mean the choices I make as the playable character could affect another character’s feelings toward me???? You mean Dragon Age is essentially a dating sim with darkspawn????

While there are many other games with romance integrated into gameplay, not many go as in-depth into characterization as Bioware (the studio that produced the Dragon Age and Mass Effect games), and I think that’s what makes playing Dragon Age so enjoyable.

before we begin

I should probably just give a brief background before I dive into this list. First, there are three games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age 2, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. They are all action RPGs (role-playing games) with a strong narrative through line where you play through quests and defeat a big bad. You play a different protagonist in every game.

Second, you can play as male or female, as human, elf, dwarf, or Qunari (in Inquisition only though), and the classes mage, warrior, and rogue. Depending on your character choices, certain romances may not be open to you.

romanceable characters in dragon age: origins

In Origins, you can play as any race (except Qunari), and there are four romanceable options.

Alistair, straight
Morrigan, straight
Zevran, bi
Leliana, bi

romanceable characters in dragon age 2

Dragon Age 2 is a bit unusual in the series as you are playing a preset character with a preset backstory, although you can choose to play as male Hawke or female Hawke. There are also four romanceable options and it’s great because everyone is a disaster bi. (Oh, I guess there’s five, and he’s kind of a stinker, plus you have to get the DLC for him to be a companion.) The chaos queer quotient in Dragon Age 2 is high, and honestly, I think this one’s underrated—it’s certainly grown on me over time.

Isabella
Merrill
Anders
Fenris
Sebastian, ugh what a hetero

romanceable characters in dragon age: inquisition

Romance mechanic-wise, Inquisition is my favorite. It’s certainly the most nuanced and complex, and you have the most options. This is also the first game where you can play as a Qunari, a race of large horned humanoids.

Cassandra, straight and open to all races
Solas, straight and only into elves
Cullen, straight and only into elves and humans
Josephine, bi and open to all races
Blackwall, straight and open to all races
Dorian, gay and open to all races
Iron Bull, pan and open to all races
Sera, lesbian and open to all races but seems to have a thing for Qunari women

So without further ado, here is JJ’s list of Best Dragon Age Love Interests, Ranked from Best to Anders.


WARNING: Here be spoilers!

1. Alistair

Welp, look at him. Look at this ginger himbo who can’t pick up a girl to save his life and wants nothing more than to belong to someone. Alistair is my husbando. He is my true Thedas love. What a dork. He asked me if I’ve ever llllllicked a llllllampost in winter when I asked him if he were a virgin (he was) and I’ve been in love ever since.

Character-wise, Alistair is one of your first companions ever in the Dragon Age franchise, an orphaned young man with a chip on his shoulder about being a royal bastard. After the current king and Alistair’s brother is slain in battle, he becomes the de facto heir to the throne, but he doesn’t want it. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to place him there, or to keep him with the Grey Wardens.

The gameplay is a little different in Origins than it is in the other two, partially because your protagonist isn't voiced by an actor. All the other games have a dialogue wheel that will indicate tone for you, or indicate a flirting option with a heart, but in Origins all the dialogue options are spelled out for you. This made picking what to say to Alistair feel much more natural and organic. And fun. It was so much fun to tease him, to watch him get flustered, and to also watch him fall in love with you, little by little. He’d had so little kindness in his life, and so much loss. Alistair rewarded you with approval any time you were compassionate, so he quite literally made me a better person in the game. I had had every intention of playing as an amoral character during my first play through, someone who looked out only for herself, but the instant this goober with the wisecracks and puppy eyes showed up, I was a goner. I became Good. Alistair quite literally redeemed me.

(There is a lot of Alistair in Han, the love interest in the first Guardians book.)

2. Dorian

I usually play as female in Inquisition (mostly because you have the most number of romance options available to you), but I did a playthrough as a male Inquisitor just for Dorian. If you like your romances quippy, then Dorian is your man.

Generally, Dorian is one of my favorite companions, whether or not I’m romancing him. You can flirt with him, even if he’s not interested in you, and Dorian’s flirt game is the best. He deflects away from vulnerability with humor and feigned arrogance, but he also cares deeply about you, and about where he comes from, where he wants his people to go. Buried beneath all that snark is a progressive heart that genuinely wants to believe in a cause…and you.

However, I’ve only romanced Dorian once, because I honestly love having him as my BFF more than my lover. Especially because if you don’t romance Dorian, he can start a romance with the Iron Bull, and I love that relationship too.

3. Sera

Honestly…Sera was very nearly ranked second over Dorian. Sera is my wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiife. I love her so much. You want chaos queer? Seraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. You want an anarcho-socialist troll who wants to eat the rich? Seraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. You want a slightly deranged lover who thinks pranks are funny? Seraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Sera is what every Joker fanboy thinks he is, except she actually does shit (in game).

To my shock, I discovered later that Sera is one of the least liked companions in Inquisition, which…WHY. I loved her immediately for her obnoxious giggle, her outsider perspective, the fact that she cares so deeply about the plight of “the little people,” and also because she hates the rich THAT MUCH. I loved her chaos, her bawdy sense of humor, and the fact that she never let my character get too full of herself.

Seriously though, Sera is my wifey. Literally, as you can marry her in the game. I’ve probably romanced her the most after another character on this list. (It’s not Alistair…)

4. Cassandra

Why is Cassandra not a lesbian? Why? WHY???? Explain, Bioware, explain!!!!!!

On my very first play through of Inquisition I tried to romance Cassandra as a female Inquisitor, only for her to turn me down and break my heart. On my first play through as a male Inquisitor, I was torn between romancing Dorian or romancing Cassandra and ultimately went with the former. No regrets, but it was a long while before I got around to romancing her because I don’t often play as a male Inquisitor. (I don’t like his voice actor options as much as the female ones.)

One of my favorite things about Cassandra is that she doesn’t quite understand that you’re flirting with her at first. She’s rather oblivious, writing things off as you just being complimentary or nice. Despite her gruff and no-nonsense exterior, she’s a total romantic—she reads really cheesy romance serial novels and is kind of embarrassed about it. When you finally get to woo her, you can do so by reading her (mediocre) poetry, and she gets so excited she punches you in the arm. It’s adorable.

5. Cullen

Cullen is more of a subjective choice than an objective one but…I love his romance. I mean, Alistair is my husband, but I’ve romanced Cullen more times than any other character on this list. (By virtue of the fact that I’ve replayed Inquisition the most, but still.)

The thing is that I—not the character I’m playing, but I, JJ—have a personal history with Cullen. He’s the only character who has shown up in all three games as a voiced major character. I first met him in my mage origin story in the first Dragon Age game, where he was a young templar posted to guard people like me. I tried to sweet talk him then, at which point he literally ran away in panic.

In Dragon Age 2, Cullen shows up once more, and over the course of that game (which takes place over 10 years), you can see him struggle with his ideals, his beliefs in justice and compassion and service, against the institution for which he works. Basically, Cullen was a magic cop who comes to realize that all cops are, in fact, bastards.

In Dragon Age: Inquisition, he’s abjured the templars, but still suffers PTSD from the trauma his previous profession made him endure. (Essentially, the force turned him into an addict, making him dependent on a magical substance called lyrium. Also he was subjected to demon torture when he was only 19. Like a lot. What I’m saying is Cullen has Seen Shit.) He’s trying to get sober, trying to be a good man, and also trying to be a total gentleman when you sidle up into his office being like, “Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”

At 31, he may no longer be the earnest yet sexually terrified lad he was at 19, but one of my favorite things about Cullen is that he’s still awkward, no matter how much time has passed. Cullen’s not a Himbo, but he’s definitely a Dim Blond sometimes, and I think it’s cute.

Also you can marry him and adopt a pit bull together.

6. Iron Bull

IRON BULL IS THE BEST and one of the best things about him is that he’s voiced by Freddie Prinze, Jr.

Now, I’m an Old, so I remember when Freddie Prinze, Jr. was considered a heartthrob for middle school millennials, especially in the movie She’s All That (back in the early 2000s when they rebooted things like Pygmalion and The Taming of the Shrew instead of Sex and the City for the 20th time). He married Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and then sort of disappeared from my consciousness until Dragon Age. Apparently, Freddie Prinze, Jr. has been doing well for himself as a voice actor these days, and seems to specialize in voicing jovial and beefy lunkheads, and the Iron Bull is no exception.

The Iron Bull is, in one word, lusty. He just…enjoys things. Drinking, dragons, fighting, fucking, Bull is also canonically and explicitly kinky. He’s fun to flirt with because he’s kind, and he is always conscientious of your consent and pleasure. He’s also fun to flirt with platonically, because it’s not serious with Bull, not unless you want it to be.

Like I said, Bull’s the best.

Also Freddie Prinze, Jr. said in an interview once that he sometimes orders Chinese food in Bull’s voice, and I think of that every time I need a laugh.

7. Morrigan

Morrigan has major bisexual goth bitch vibes, so why couldn’t I romance her as a woman, Bioware? ㅠㅠ

Morrigan shows up as a major character in Dragon Age: Origins and Inquisitions, but you can only romance her in the first game. She’s incredibly difficult to woo: kindness makes her suspicious, playing hard to get makes her contemptuous, and forget teasing—you’ll lose so many approval points you may never recover.

The thing about romancing Morrigan is that you have to take the time to get to know her. To talk to her—about her upbringing in the woods, as the only daughter of a terrifying and abusive single mother, to understand that beneath that prickly shell is someone who has had to convince herself that she’s better off on her own, that she’s strong without anyone else, because she’s had no other choice.

And then she runs off with your demon baby and you have to chase her throughout time and space in the Witch Hunt DLC but still. Worth it!

8. Josephine

Josephine is the Disney princess of Thedas, and you get to duel for her hand. I had loads of fun pretending to be a female swashbuckler while dueling for my lady’s hand and it was great. Josephine is a total cinnamon roll; unfortunately, like the cinnamon roll, her romance is sweet but somewhat lacking in substance.

9. Zevran

Assassin. Also sounds a lot like Puss in Boots.

Zevran’s romance is surprisingly heartbreaking, considering it seems so casual at first. He’s a bit of the “Latin lover” stereotype and will flirt with you relentlessly, will flirt with anyone relentlessly (some of my favorite companion banter is Zevran hitting on Alistair and Alistair getting increasingly flustered and/or confused). But as you get to know him, you start to realize that beneath his lothario-like exterior, there’s a soft heart willing to be vulnerable over and over again. It takes a certain sort of bravery to keep your heart open. Zevran was an orphaned slave child who grew up in a brothel before his debt was bought by an organization of professional assassins. Only two survived to adulthood—Zevran and his best friend/lover, Taliesin. The more you mine Zevran’s backstory, the more tragic things get, yet he never loses his light touch. And somehow, that broke my heart even more.

10. Isabella

Everyone in Dragon Age 2 is terrible.

And that’s what makes them great.

Isabella is a pirate, and also a self-obsessed hussy who will just…abandon you if she doesn’t like you enough.

Whenever I play male Hawke (which is most of the time as he’s the superior voice actor), I romance Isabella. Their dynamic—especially when you play as Purple (Sarcastic) Hawke—has a very 1940s screwball comedy vibe, and I love it.

11. Leliana

I love Leliana, but she never seems to get over her exes.

12. Fenris

To be honest, I don’t know what Fenris’s romance is like because I’ve never managed to successfully romance him. Dragon Age 2’s approval mechanics are interesting because you need to max out your companions’ approval (friend) or disapproval (rival) score before you can pursue a romance with them. Because Fenris is so difficult to please and also because he’s kind of an asshole, it’s much easier to rivalmance him than to romance him proper. Except I’ve never been able to max out his disapproval of me before the third act either, so I can’t offer much commentary.

He has a nice voice though, I guess.

13. Merrill

Merrill is…sweet. And that’s all you can really say about her.

14. Sebastian

This dick is so fucking religious that he won’t dick down; in other words, if you romance him, he won’t sleep with you. And he’s straight. In a game where everyone else is bi, being straight just feels homophobic. The only thing he has going for him is his Scottish—I mean, Starkhaven—accent, I guess. He’s mostly just insufferable, with a slight touch of unhinged zealot.

15. Blackwall

Ugh, this fucker. He is a lying liar who lies. Don’t let the beard distract you! He’s mostly horrible!

16. Solas

Another lying liar who lies.

Okay, so…to be honest, I actually love this romance. Not personally, but narratively. It is delicious in its angst. The greatest thing about the Solasmance is the betrayal.

Solas first shows up as your tentative friend in Inquisition, an unusual elf mage with an unusual amount of knowledge about the Fade (the realm of dreams and also demons and also where mages draw their power from). He doesn’t seem to like his fellow elves much, even though he’s alllllllllllllll about elven glory. Solas also seems to know a lot about the strange mark on your hand, and seems to be conflicted about the way he felt about you. He admires you, your spirit, your drive, your clear-eyed conscience, yet at the same time continually holds himself distant.

And then he fucking disappears on you at the end of the game.

BECAUSE HE WAS YOUR TRUE ENEMY THE ENTIRE TIME.

The greatest thing about Dragon Age: Inquisition is discovering at the end that the greatest enemy was not before you, but fighting by your side the entire time. You are at cross-purposes—what Solas wants will bring about the destruction of the world as you know it—yet the feelings between you are real, whether friendship or romance. Dragon Age: Inquisition has an epilogue DLC called Trespasser, and it twists the knife in my heart every time. In Trespasser, you get to confront Solas about everything and the betrayal (and genuine regret—providing you’ve gotten his approval high enough to become friends) is so good. UGH.

17. Anders

I OFFERED THIS MOTHERFUCKER A SANDWICH AND HE MOVED INTO MY GODDAMNED HOUSE.

So…let me explain.

Usually, when you are romancing characters in a videogame, there’s a sort of confirmation option that warns you that you are about to officially enter into a romance with said character. However, sometimes you can get softlocked into a romance, meaning the game proceeds as though you’re in a relationship with a character, even if you didn’t confirm it. (You can also get softlocked into a romance with Blackwall, another reason he is terrible.)

As my playing philosophy is If there’s a heart dialogue option, then I’m going to take it, naturally Anders thought all my flirting, you know, meant something instead of me just playing male Hawke as the slut I am inside. I got to a point in the game where I worried Anders was getting too attached, so instead of taking the heart (confirmation) dialogue option, I offered him a sandwich.

THE NEXT SCENE I DISCOVERED ANDERS WAS NOW LIVING IN MY HOUSE AS MY BOYFRIEND.

AND I COULDN’T BREAK UP WITH HIM.

Not until he committed an act of terrorism.

You see, that’s the real reason Anders is the worst. When you meet him, he’s this weird demon-possessed mage living in the sewers kind of obsessed with mage freedom, but you can grok with that. You’ve got weirder people in your crew. Anders is a fanatic, and believes the only way mages would be free of oppression would be to destroy the Chantry (main religious institution of Thedas), but he keeps this information from you. Instead, he sends you on gather materials for his explosives under false pretenses, and then blows up the Chantry, killing hundreds of innocent people, and plunging the continent into war. (He’s the reason the Inquisition has to be called in the first place!)

ANDERS. IS. A. TERRORIST.

You do have the option to kill him, but I couldn’t, which he took as me condoning his actions. NO. I was FINALLY able to break up with him here. FINALLY.


So there you have it. All the Dragon Age love interests. Not all my newsletters will be listicles like this, but I thought we’d have some fun with it. Next time you hear from me, I’ll talk about the first Guardians of Dawn, I promise.

사랑해,
JJ