“Some call our realm a world of shadows, but that makes it sound so unpleasant… The twilight there holds a serene beauty… You have seen it yourself as the sun sets on this world. Bathed in that light, all the people were pure and gentle… But things changed once that foul power pervaded the world…”
This is our list of the top 25 female characters of all-time. We’re into the top 5 now, and counting down one by one until we reach the best of the best on Sept. 30.
4) Midna (Legend of Zelda) – 8 votes/442 points
Chris: If I had stopped playing Twilight Princess about 10-15 hours in (and believe me, I was getting tired of the color brown), I would have scoffed at this choice. Midna? The fourth best female character ever? Please. She’s a jerk to Link when he’s stuck in his wolf form, ordering him around and making gibberish noises. She complains about puzzles taking too long and yawns when she’s bored.
Fortunately, there’s more going on here than just mischief and bossiness.
After collecting the three Fused Shadows, we finally start to dig deeper into Midna’s character. She intends to use the power of the Fused Shadows to help her Twilight Realm, but Zant’s like “heh, no” and blasts her with light, nearly killing her. Link, being the do-gooder that he is, rushes to save her as rain pours down and a haunting piano theme plays in the background. He brings her to Zelda, who helps save Midna’s life at a great cost to herself.
It’s easy to write Midna off as being selfish and petulant. But her background goes a long way in explaining these character deficiencies, and she grows from them over the course of the game. By the end, she’s carrying her weight alongside Link to stop Ganondorf, and finally manages to get rid of the curse placed on her by Zant by the end of the game. And her scene in the ending? Man. The feels.
I’m sure there are some fans out there who simply think of Midna as another awful sidekick character, like Navi or Fi (or to a lesser extent, Tatl and Tael). Personally, I think they’re wrong. And 8 of the 11 voters in our panel agree.
Joseph: Number four for an upgraded version of Navi? Her character and background were a little better than the annoying fairy, but I still had to solve the puzzles and do the heavy lifting (she did some, but she could have been replaced with another throwaway item). She was a source of frustration in a game that was already a little frustrating. At least she wasn’t Fi.
Shaun: Like Chris said, at first, I didn’t care for Midna. She really did seem like an enhanced Navi, and i wasn’t really all about that, considering I usually like to take a stand for universally derided characters, and even I hate her.
But unlike Joseph said, I very quickly realized that Midna was much more than just a demon Navi. As things start to unravel, you find yourself learning more about one of the series’ most interesting, relatable, complex characters ever committed to screen. No one in the series history has ever really struggled with moral ambiguity, or light vs. dark. You had one camp trying to save the world, and the other trying to destroy it. For the most part, it’s always been that simple, and character portrayals made it easy to know who to root for.
Then Midna comes along, and everything changes. For once, someone’s good intentions start out as completely selfish — Midna just wants to save her people, and couldn’t really care less what happens along the way. However, as she and Link begin to bond, and, as I imagine, she’s faced with someone whose motivations are purely selfless, she begins to change. All of this happens despite the gamer only hearing one side of that conversation.
The series had obviously had more iconic characters, but I don’t know if it has ever had one more diverse and layered than Midna. That counts for a lot.
Jason: I only got a few hours into Twilight Princess, but even that small amount of time was enough to fall in love with the impish Midna. She’s a crafty one, and isn’t your typical companion character; but through sheer force of personality managed to still be one of the best companions ever. And, unlike Ms. Comstock, is an actual asset to the hero as he fought to stop the BBG. Plus she just looks cool. Midna’s one of those character designs that you never forget, which is always awesome.
Michaela: Midna is the most well-written, relatable ally in the entire Zelda franchise, and it’s my favorite part of Twilight Princess. At first she acts selfish and harsh towards Link, who she’s only traveling alongside with because it will help her achieve her own goals. She has no interest in being his friend or helping him with his own personal mission to save his friends. But after a near death experience, she learns to care about others beyond herself, leading to the foundation of an adorable relationship with Link. Though she changes for the better, she’s strong, confident, and doesn’t take crap from anybody. She has so much depth and personality that it’s hard to believe that it took so many years for a Zelda game to finally create such a wonderful character.
Cary: Apparently, I have to play Twilight Princess again because…I…didn’t really…like Minda. But I understand that she’s quite a fan favorite, so I must have missed something the first time round.