The Legend of Zelda: The best versions of the titular Princess across the franchise

Eleni Thomas
Best Princess Zelda header

The Legend of Zelda franchise would be nothing without its titular Princess, a figure who despite not being the main protagonist, has always been an important part of each game. But which version of Zelda is best? From Ocarina of Time to Breath of the Wild, here are our favorite portrayals.

While The Legend of Zelda may be named after its Princess, players take control of Link throughout each and every adventure in the series. As a result, some games put Zelda on the back burner or don’t include her at all, while others give her a much more important role to play.

However, as a long-time Zelda player who has managed to complete almost every game in the franchise, I find that the overall experience is always better when Princess Zelda is given a bigger role – or when she is at least portrayed in an interesting way.

After all, the whole franchise is named after her, not Link. While he may be the hero and bearer of the Triforce of Courage, the whole point of the franchise is that Link and Zelda must work together, combine their Triforce powers, and take down the big bad Ganon.

Princess Zelda has easily become one of the most iconic female characters in gaming, so with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom now out in the wild, I’ve gathered up what I believe are the five best versions of Princess Zelda from across the almost 40-year-old franchise.


Princess Zelda in Ocarina of Time

Many still consider Nintendo’s first 3D Zelda title to be one of the greatest games of all time, in large part due to its innovative combat and design for the time. However, the thing that sets Ocarina of Time apart for me in terms of many games to come out during this time period is the subtle nuance of its female heroine Zelda.

Best Princess Zelda Ocarina of Time
Zelda disguises herself as Sheik to aid Link throughout the game

Rather than being trapped, Zelda disguises herself as Sheik throughout the game, aiding Link on his quest and guiding him wherever he needs to go. While this is impressive in itself, it’s an even more amazing feat when one considers that Zelda was seemingly in hiding and on the run for over half a decade before adult Link appeared.

Ocarina of Time’s portrayal of Zelda has also brought about discussions of gender fluidity within the gaming space, given her more masculine presenting design as Sheik. And when it comes time to battle Ganondorf, Zelda is right there to assist Link and help take down the Gerudo King.

Princess Zelda in Twilight Princess

Including Twilight Princess on this list may come as a surprise to many. After all, this is one of the Zelda entries that does place the Princess in the peripheral in favor of Midna, the Princess of the Twilight realm.

Best Princess Zelda Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess includes an older and wiser version of Zelda

However, the brief time we spend with Zelda is one that cements her role in Twilight Princess as one of the best representations of a young ruler. She is regal and wise, something that you would expect the wielder of the Triforce of Wisdom to be.

She also shows a great sense of duty to her people and the land of Hyrule, surrendering herself to Zant in order to protect her people. So although Zelda may not have the biggest role in Twilight Princess, the mature nature of the game allows her to shine as a leader and a warrior while living up to her name.

Princess Zelda in Skyward Sword

While Skyward Sword is not a perfect game, one aspect of this entry that fans adore is the larger role storytelling plays. In particular, how the dynamic between Link and Zelda is put center stage for this game.

Similar to her journey in Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword’s Zelda develops a great sense of duty and strength by the time the game ends. She starts off as a young woman and ends up having discovered herself to be the reincarnation of the Goddess Hylia.

Best Zelda versions Skyward sword
Skyward Sword’s story is one of the best in the entire series.

She is also an extremely likable character, and this investment in her adds a sense of urgency and desire to actually save her. After all, this is the Zelda that starts it all, so there is no denying that she is one of the most important versions of the character to date.

Princess Zelda in Spirit Tracks

This underrated Nintendo DS Zelda game has one thing that no other game in the franchise does: A version of Zelda that not only accompanies Link on his whole journey but actually aids him in battle.

Okay, she may be in ghost form while helping Link out, but still, having Zelda feature throughout the entire game is a refreshing change up from other entries where she only appears in a handful of cutscenes.

Best Princess Zelda Spirit Tracks
Spirit Tracks includes a version of Zelda that is playable… sort of.

What’s more, her added screen time gives her more dimensions. She’s impulsive and young and still finding her feet as a leader. However, by the end of Spirit Tracks, she overcomes her fears and helps take down Chancellor Cole, a man who held great power and control over her during the initial moments of the game.

Princes Zelda in Breath of the Wild

Many fans were hoping to get a playable version of Zelda in Tears of the Kingdom, and this desire is in large part down to how well Nintendo portrayed the Princess in Breath of the Wild.

While she does aid Link in the final battle and is still trapped for the majority of the game, Nintendo cleverly turns her isolation into a moment of bravery – one that utilizes her powers to trap Ganon away until Link is ready to face him.

Zelda in Breath of the Wild
Princess Zelda struggles with her role and power in Breath of the Wild

However, we do get a big insight into Zelda through flashbacks. We see her journey to unlocking her powers; her internal struggle between wanting to be in the field or leading Hyrule; and lastly, her resentment at Link for being so quick to adapt to his role.

She is not perfect by any means, but her development in regards to her relationship with Link as well as her evolution into the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom is extremely important when looking at the game as a whole. Time will tell how she grows further in Tears of the Kingdom.

Want more The Legend of Zelda content? Be sure to check out some of Dexerto’s coverage on Tears of the Kingdom below:

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