The Legend of Zelda has always had an extraordinary cast of characters, and as a young girl, it was really cool to see an abundance of strong female characters. Many of those characters left an impact on me, being some of the best written, well-rounded, and overall inspirational characters I’ve ever known, and this International Women’s Day, I would like to share these characters and what they mean to me with you!

There will be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk!

Zelda (Twilight Princess)

I’m going to be talking about a few different incarnations of Zelda, but I had to start out with the one that means the most to me personally. It’s probably an unpopular opinion to favor Twilight Princess Zelda above the rest, but it can’t be helped. Twilight Princess was my second Zelda game and the one that resonated with me the most. Meeting the beautiful princess was such a thrilling moment for me, and the sacrifice she made for Midna left me in tears. It made me want to be a more compassionate person just like her, and to that, I hold her in high regards.

Impa (Skyward Sword)

Impa is another character who spans across multiple Zelda games and is one that I am always fond of. However, one incarnation stands above the rest in my mind and that is in Skyward Sword. She does her duties in protecting Princess Zelda as always, but in this one she challenged Link. She called him out when he wasn’t strong enough and pushed him to better himself. Her love and dedication to Zelda were clear and she would do anything to protect her. Impa is a beautiful example of what loyalty and trust truly mean.

Zelda (Skyward Sword)

I can’t go without mentioning Zelda herself in regards to Skyward Sword. She is favored amongst all her incarnations for good reason. She is to Link a friend first before all else; there is a true bond between the two and it is clear to see. The goal is always to save the princess, but this time it means all the more. She’s bold but kind, strict but compassionate. For a fictional character, she seems very real. I daresay she is one of the best-written incarnations of Zelda!

Malon (Ocarina of Time)

Not every female needs to be a princess to be important. Sometimes a simple farm girl can make all the difference. You meet Malon as a young, carefree girl, singing and spending time with the horses that she so loves. When you awaken from your seven-year slumber and return to the ranch, she is still there, but in less-than-ideal conditions. She stays so that Ingo doesn’t abuse the poor animals under his horrid care. Her heart is so big she couldn’t just let them go through that, even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness. She knows that deep in her heart that some kind soul will save them someday, and she keeps a brave face and keeps her animal companions from harm until that day comes.

Medli (The Wind Waker)

Medli is a character who I once saw as just a background NPC to a genuine friend. I didn’t think much of her when she was first introduced, but after awakening her as a sage, I got a true insight into her character. I saw how much she cared for Komali and how it broke her heart to leave him. I saw her self-doubt when she learned of her destiny, but her determination to see it through. Medli is an adorable addition to the Zelda cast and I’m so glad for my time spent with her — except for when she kept getting taken by the Floormasters. That wasn’t fun.

Fi (Skyward Sword)

Yes. Fi is on this list. Why? I adore her. I know it might not make sense, but hear me out. Yes, I do get frustrated with everyone else when she interrupts my combat to tell me that my batteries are low, but I don’t so much as blame that on her as a character than I do on the developers not anticipating what an annoying mechanic that would be. I love Fi because she is essentially a robot when you first meet her. She is there to do her designated job and nothing more. By the end of the game, though, we see how much she has grown emotionally and she left me in tears when I finally had to say goodbye.

Hilda (A Link Between Worlds)

Hilda has to be one of the most complex characters in any Zelda game. She loved her people so much that she was willing to do what she knew was wrong to save them. She began to tell herself that what she was doing — stealing the Triforce of another land — was alright. She defied the advice of Ravio and went along with Yuga, even though he would turn on her in the end, all for just the hope that her kingdom might be saved. That revelation that she has, once she realizes all that she’s done, was so heart-wrenching. Seeing her face after the Triforce was restored by the heroes of the light realm will always serve as one of the best Zelda moments in my book.

Zelda/Sheik (Ocarina of Time)

This incarnation of the Hylian princess always stood out to me as one of the best simply because she grows as a person and is truly worthy to hold the Triforce of Wisdom. As a child, she knew in her heart that Ganondorf was evil, but out of naivete she instead gave him an opening in her attempts to stop him. Knowing she must make it up to her people, she hides her true form in the guise of Shiek and guides the hero with the wisdom she now has from her years of hardship and experience. In the end, she rights her wrongs and helps Link defeat Ganon along with the other sages, and gives Link the childhood that he had lost.

Midna (Twilight Princess)

At first, I wasn’t too fond of Midna. I didn’t know what her intentions were and I didn’t like the fact that she was simply using Link. As the story progresses, we find out more about her and why she has done everything she did, making it easier for us to understand where she’s coming from. She also begins to see Link’s true compassionate and courageous nature as well as Zelda’s, which drives her to not just take back her kingdom but help all who she can and make a better world for those she loves.

Nabooru (Ocarina of Time)

I feel as though Nabooru is one of the most under-appreciated characters in Ocarina of Time, not only by fans but by the developers themselves! She rebelled against her own king when she defied Ganondorf. She knew the contents of his heart and saw him for the monster he truly was, and I think that should have been touched upon much more in the actual game itself. Nabooru is a smart and spirited woman, and I hope that more people will come to recognize that.

Urbosa (Breath of the Wild)

Luckily, the Gerudo women have been given more recognizable roles in future titles. Breath of the Wild brings back these fearsome warriors with one of the greatest champions, Urbosa. She is a fearless leader with a devotion to Zelda that even rivals that of Impa. Her tongue is sharp, able to combat that of Revali, and her physical prowess is nothing to sneeze at. Everything about this woman from her appearance to her personality screams radiance, and I just love that.

Mipha (Breath of the Wild)

Strength is not the only thing that makes a female strong. Compassion and grace are just as important, and Mipha is a glowing example of that. I loved hearing the stories of her and Link when he was little. She is a magnificent caregiver and Link is lucky to have someone like her in his life. Though we may never know if Link reciprocated Mipha’s feelings towards him, she loved him still and always showed him nothing but that.

Great Fairies (Multiple Zelda Titles)

From the moment I first saw a Great Fairy for the first time, I felt a connection between her and Link. I always compare them to a mother who is watching out for her child as he sets out on his own for the first time. The designs of these graceful beings are always exciting, vibrant, and elegant, no matter the game. I really do hope that in future games to come they become more crucial to the overarching story than just a means to power up your gear.

Ciela (Phantom Hourglass)

I’m not going to lie, Ciela has to be one of the few (non-great) fairies I truly grew an attachment to during the course of the games. She had lost her memories and decided to aid Link in hopes of discovering something about them. She kept Linebeck in check whenever his motivations were greedy and she helped Link however she was able. It was actually really bittersweet when she not only said goodbye to Link but Linebeck as well, not wanting to fully admit that they formed a true companionship.

These girls were just but a few from a significant amount of amazing characters, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. I haven’t even mentioned Marin, Ruto, Tetra, or even Zelda from Breath of the Wild! The characters I spoke about were the first to come to mind in talking about the women of The Legend of Zelda, and have impacted me the most. Now I would like to know, which female character stands out to you?