I want to hear how 34% of people here could possibly justify voting for the Dark Souls guy. He's not a character. And "I don't like Mass Effect" isn't an acceptable answer.
CU is a figure in the world that has an effect on that world and the people (s)he meets within it. That the character doesn't have proper dialogue doesn't mean that (s)he's any less of a character than Shepard, who's personality tends to vacillate between two moral extremes.
Well, yeah, obviously they have an effect on the world but he/she has no characterization or personality. They're just a blank slate.
The CU is about as much a character as someone's D&D campaign character is an actual character. That is to say, its as much one as you want him/her to be. You can leave the CU as a blank slate or you can role play his or her journey through the land of Lordran however you wish.
Opportunities for characterization are merely not laid out as front and center as it is in games like ME.
In that case, let me rephrase the question. Even if we, for the moment, agree to call it a character; Is the CU among the best characters of this generation?
If you told me the best character of a book is a blank D&D character sheet or the best character of a movie is the guy behind the camera, I would have laugh at the absurdity. Why is it then that a character that has no defined characteristic of its own; who can be as deep or as flat as the player (and only the player) can care to make him/her; doesn't even have a name, a backstory, an origin, a personality, a voice or a reason to be there and fight those creatures other than to enable the game to move forward, is considered one of the best characters of the generation?