I honestly don’t know why or how I haven’t gotten around to doing this before. Clearly, something is wrong with me. Since the Zelda series has a massive cast of characters, this list is going to be longer than my previous favorite character lists, with a whopping 10 characters to discuss rather than the usual 5. Here we go!
There are spoilers ahead about the characters and their roles in the games. If you don’t want spoilers, stop here! You’ll meet with a terrible fate if you don’t…
10. Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
Is this really a surprise? Sheik is a cool, awesome and mysterious character in Ocarina of Time, aiding Link and always being one step ahead of him. It’s a shame that she revealed her identity a little too soon, but luckily later installments (albeit non-canon ones) featuring Sheik have maintained her strength of character. But that’s honestly part of the reason why she isn’t higher on the list.
Sheik is awesome in the fighting-centric games she’s appeared in like Super Smash Bros. and is still my main fighter to this day, and while her involvement in Ocarina of Time‘s story is important, her character has little to work with in terms of development or presence outside of that. One thing I will say though: I can’t imagine how cool it must have been to play Ocarina of Time back in the day before the Internet spoiled everything and discover her identity near the end of the game. That must have been so awesome.
9. Marin (Link’s Awakening)
Marin just wants to be a seagull and fly because she seeks adventure, and it’s so cute? Initially, I was going to put Malon at the number 9 spot, but when I started analyzing the characters themselves, I realized that Marin, despite being from a much older game, had more compelling motivations. Her simple dream to fly and be free ties in beautifully to the story of Link’s Awakening.
Not only does it parallel Link’s journey to wake up the Wind Fish, freeing himself from this dream, it also makes the dilemma of whether or not waking up the Wind Fish is the best thing to do that much more powerful. After all, if Marin is a figment of the Wind Fish’s imagination, then when it wakes up, she and everyone else on the island would cease to exist. It’s a really fascinating question to explore, and seeing Marin get her wish at the end and be free herself was so touching and well-done.
8. Tetra (Wind Waker)
Tetra is another one of Zelda’s alter egos and has a strong personality to match her unique design. She’s spunky and tough, leading her pirate crew with discipline and strength despite being the youngest one there. Tetra gets what she wants, her signature wink emphasizes her cavalier, adventurous nature. It’s a shame that nearly all of this personality is retconned the moment she becomes Princess Zelda, but at least she still fights with Link in the final battle with her wink intact. Tetra is a great character because of how she stands out as an independent leader who hunts for treasure and nothing else.
7. Mipha (Breath of the Wild)
After descending on Hyrule Field and running around for a bit in Breath of the Wild, the first area I came across was Zora’s Domain. It was completely by accident that I ended up pursuing the story quest there, and I was really happy that I did. Unlike the rest of the Champion’s deaths from one hundred years ago, the Zoras are still devastated at the loss of Mipha because, had she survived, she would still be alive in the present. They blame Link for being responsible for her death because of his failures, and it’s yet another reminder of what everyone lost when Calamity Ganon returned.
The other story sidequests involving the Champions didn’t have the same emotional core as Mipha’s story did, and it made me sympathize with her a lot. I didn’t even mind her unrequited love for Link – it was cute, plus I appreciated her introversion and quiet nature. Despite her introversion though, and she still rises up and performs her duties as a Champion admirably. Finally, her character design is amazing. Need I say more?
6. Impa (Skyward Sword)
In most of the Zelda games, Impa is either an old lady or overtly sexy ninja lady. In Skyward Sword, there are moments when she is both, and yet she’s a total bada** from start to finish. Impa’s character in Skyward Sword is by far the most fleshed out and compelling she’s ever been in the series because of how the game balances her personality and heroic actions.
Impa is strong, caring, and devoted to protecting Zelda, and she has the abilities to back up her sharp tongue. Whenever she scolded Link for not being good enough to protect Zelda, I completely agreed with her. Compared to her, Link was a rookie fighter. Impa has great fighting prowess and maintains her strong sense of loyalty and justice throughout her entire life. Her arc’s resolution at the end of Skyward Sword was absolutely beautiful and poetic because of the strides the game took to portray Impa as a compassionate, loyal individual who devoted her life to protecting Zelda and the world from Demise.
5. Medli (Wind Waker)
Medli embraces her duties as Valoo’s translator and the Earth Sage with maturity and grace, but she also isn’t afraid to do her part either. She fearlessly faced the dangers of both Dragon Roost Cavern and the Earth Dungeon to help others. The Earth Dungeon is one of my favorites in the series, and a large reason why is because of the ability to control Medli and solve puzzles with her assistance. Also, her character design is adorable. I love the Rito designs in Breath of the Wild, but Medli still holds a special place in my heart as my favorite bird girl.
4. Saria (Ocarina of Time)
I wrote about Saria years ago and why she’s one of the best Sages in the series, and I still stand by that sentiment. Saria and Link’s childhood friendship is genuine, and unlike other characters in the series (cough cough Ilia cough), Saria is always supportive of Link. Even when his destiny forces him to leave the Kokiri Forest, she is there to see him off, and in a beautifully framed scene, entrusts him her Fairy Ocarina. It’s really unfortunate that he replaces it at the first opportunity (LINK WHY), but luckily, the strength of their friendship continues into Link’s adulthood.
Returning to Kokiri Forest after seven years to find it infested with monsters is heartbreaking, and even more so when Link discovers that Saria is missing. Their bittersweet reunion and parting after she’s revealed to be a Sage is incredibly well done, and elevated Saria’s status from being a simple side character. She is a significant figure in Link’s life that he cares about, and it made the fight to save her that much more epic and meaningful. Saria was one of the first characters I really cared about in the series as a whole because of the excellent writing.
3. Link (Breath of the Wild)
I talked about Link in great depth before in my post before about Breath of the Wild, so I’ll try not to retread those points in favor of some new insight. This iteration of Link is deep, interesting, and fun to play as. He’s silly, serious, kind, and noble all at the same time, and it makes his character feel more like a real person. For the first time, he’s also a flawed protagonist as well by losing his battle against Ganon the first time, and it adds a new layer of humanity to a hero often defined by the courageous traits he is expected to have.
By allowing Link’s personality to shine through his actions and facial expressions, it proves that he doesn’t need voiced dialogue to be a great character that people love. I should point out that I love all of Link’s portrayals in the previous games, like Link’s expressive and goofy personality in Wind Waker and Link’s maturity between Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, but Breath of the Wild‘s approach to his characterization is so well done that this is the version on my list.
2. Princess Zelda (Breath of the Wild)
As was the case with Link, I talked about Zelda’s character arc in my other post a lot, so I’m gonna focus on her iterations throughout the history of the series instead. Princess Zelda has come a long way from the sleeping damsel in distress to the saving grace of Hyrule. Her character development in Breath of the Wild is largely responsible for why she is so high up on my list. I’ve always liked Zelda, don’t get me wrong. Steps were taken to make her character more interesting in Skyward Sword, characterizing her as a normal girl rather than a princess.
Before that, Zelda may not have had much character development, but I always liked her character designs and any time she helped Link fight Ganondorf was awesome. But the amount of times that she was kidnapped became ridiculous and Breath of the Wild characterized her in new ways I would have never expected. Zelda isn’t kidnapped, she makes the conscious decision to fight Ganon on her own knowing full well that she could lose. But she ultimately becomes the force protecting Hyrule for 100 years, making her the true hero in a way. Her flaws and strengths were balanced to create a dynamic and interesting protagonist, and I hope this trend continues.
1. Midna (Twilight Princess)
My number one favorite character in the Zelda series is the Twilight Princess herself, Midna. I first watched my brother play the game before I played it myself, but I only saw the latter half of the game where she was more caring towards others. When I started playing it myself, I was surprised at how critical and selfish Midna was being. What changed? Lots of things did, and it’s part of why Midna stands out as one of the most interesting characters in the game.
Midna’s selfishness masks noble intentions as she’s trying to save her home, the Twilight Realm, from Zant and exact her revenge, and she’ll do anything to get what she wants. She uses everyone around her for her own gains and refuses to treat the denizens of the Light Realm as people worth saving. It comes as a huge shock to her when Princess Zelda selflessly sacrifices her life to save her, and this sparks change in Midna. She becomes kinder and more understanding towards Link. She still has her desire for revenge, but she’s willing to cooperate with others in order to reach her goals. She even gains the resolve to save the Light Realm, finally seeing it as equally valuable to her realm, and it makes her sacrifices at the end of the game truly meaningful. Midna’s character arc is beautifully written, and at the time of Twilight Princess‘ release, this was arguably the first time that fans were exposed to such a carefully crafted story of change and learning to love and care for others.
Malon (Ocarina of Time)
I’ve always liked Malon’s character, even if she isn’t the most deep or interesting. She helps her lazy father run Lon Lon Ranch and loves to sing her mother’s song, which Link learns to call Epona. Seven years later, she and her father are forced to work for Ingo and give Epona as a gift to Ganondorf. Once peace is restored to the ranch, Malon maintains her optimism and kindness. Her energetic and hardworking nature from a young age helps her stand out as someone who is mature beyond her years, and she’s someone I could legitimately see Link being with someday. I always went out of my way to go back to the ranch to hear her singing.
Skull Kid (Majora’s Mask)
Skull Kid takes the cake as my favorite villain in the series, specifically because he isn’t truly one, and that makes him a fascinating character. He’s childlike and terrifying with the power he wields, and yet the time Majora’s Mask takes to explore his backstory makes him sympathetic. He’s simply a misguided prankster that lost himself to the evil influence of Majora’s Mask after losing his friends. It’s a sad story. Surprisingly enough, he’s a lot of fun to play as in Hyrule Warriors as well. His combat style is ridiculous yet amazing: the ocarina squeaks, and in that moment, chaos descends upon the minions in the most horrific, unimaginable way possible. Their nightmares are forever plagued with the hollow, ear-splitting sounds of the ocarina and the maniacal giggles of the Skull Kid playing it.
Sidon (Breath of the Wild)
Sidon is the younger brother of Mipha, and he’s the only one willing to aid Link when the rest of the denizens of Zora’s Domain want nothing to do with him. Sidon doesn’t blame Link for what happened to Mipha, and his unshaken faith in the hero is sincere. The battle that he assists Link with is fun and epic, solidifying his role as a true ally.
Who are your favorite characters in the Zelda series, and how would you rank them? Let me know in the comments!