Please do me a favor at this very moment: Think of your all-time favorite characters from any media, whether it be from a video game or a book or whatever else. What about them do you like - is it their character traits? Their heroism? Their swagger? How relatable they are? Their backstory?
The goal of a writer, besides having an interesting plot, is to have characters that the audience enjoys in some capacity where they don't mind following their journey, and as a writer (and just as a member of an audience), I find myself wondering what is it about a character that people get attached to? If you've read any of my other pieces - which I encourage you to do - you know I write a lot about wrestling, specifically WWE. WWE has a plethora of characters, both "evil" and "good", and when you get to know them, you decide whether you like them or not, ideally speaking. The times have shifted where it isn't necessarily about how purely good someone is and purely evil another is; we like them because we think they are worthy. We like that they earned it, based on how hard they worked or how they have entertained us or how they tell a story in the ring. Reasonable things to admire, yes? Or we just like them for whatever reason. Me, my favorites include Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Asuka, and Ember Moon. They pique my interest due to their wrestling skills, their ability to draw me into their feuds, and never-say-die attitude. They've got the personality, the passion, and skills, and those are things I can appreciate. In some way, I feel like their fight is mine as well - I am with them as they endure their storylines, whatever that may be. They grow, they learn, they fight back, they have a reason to fight. They make me want to get better in my own daily life, so one could say that they inspire me. You don't have to agree with me on this, but maybe you like them for the same reasons, or someone else. Everyone has that one character that they fight for if another person doesn't like them.
But it doesn't matter what media it is, whether it's wrestling or something else, you understand what I'm talking about because you yourself have that, or those, characters that mean something to you. Maybe you see them as an extension of yourself, and their journey is your journey. Maybe they know how to get you to sympathize with them one way or another (Tony Stark and his anxiety, Tony Stark and his guilt complex... I know this very well). They make you feel alive.
It seems to me as an audience member that we have moved on from liking a character purely because they are a good person (or hating them because they are bad); sure, that may be a background reason, but it is no longer at the forefront. We want characters who are fleshed out, who are flawed, who we can go on a journey with; that stands out to us. We want characters with motivations, a drive, a reason to exist, not just "I'm doing this because the plot tells me to."
Now tell me: Why do you like the characters that you like?