The Legend of Zelda is a franchise that spans over thirty years, and though its protagonist is no stranger to performing adventures solo, there have been many Link incarnations that were reliant on some form of companion throughout their quest. Here I’ll be providing the completely factual, not-subjective, end-all ranking of these companions.

14. Ricky

To be frank, I’m not a huge fan of the animal buddies we got in the Oracles games. They all strike me as ridiculous, unworthy creations in one way or another, but Ricky is far and away the worst offender.

A Kangaroo with boxing gloves that carries Link around in its pouch(despite being a male Kangaroo, which don’t have pouches). What an absolute joke. The concept for this character alone is enough to place him squarely at the bottom of this list: it’s just such an inanely stupid thing to put in a Zelda game. Ricky is simply beneath the Zelda franchise. Even Triforce Heroes wouldn’t sink so low as to include this creation.

I can hardly stand the fact that this is official Zelda artwork. It looks like somebody put Link in the pouch of their Deviantart OC.

13. Dimitri

Like Ricky, this character’s concept is so absurd and out-of-place for a Zelda title that I have to rank him low.

Dimitri is a pacifist Dodongo that swims. That’s right. Despite every other example of a Dodongo in the franchise being a ferocious, mindless fire-breathing monster, for some reason they thought it appropriate to make Dimitri a peace-loving dino that cannot breath fire, but can instead be used to traverse water. I refuse to accept Dimitri.

He looks like something out of The Land Before Time. Capcom must never be allowed to touch the Zelda franchise again.

12. Moosh

And here we have the least-bad of the Oracles companions. I suppose I find Moosh somewhat tolerable compared to the other two.

He’s a big blue bear with tiny wings that can be used to fly across gaps and smash enemies. It’s a silly concept that I still feel doesn’t quite fit with the Zelda franchise, but I’ll take Moosh over the likes of Ricky or Dimitri any day.

Not quite as majestic as a Loftwing, is he?

11. Crimson Loftwing

Ah, so now we’re out of the Oracles games and into the REAL Zelda companions.

I like the idea of the Crimson Loftwing: I really do. Having Link ride around on a giant Shoebill in reference to the Hylian emblem is a neat idea, and Skyward Sword’s opening truly had me fooled: I thought the bird would be an actual character in its own right rather than a method of transportation. Sadly, though, after rescuing it from Groose’s chicanery, it ceases to have any sort of plot relevance or characterization. It’s only used to traverse the skies from that point on.

They tried to sell us on the idea that Link had an extremely tight bond with the bird(even to the point of making childhood friend Zelda jealous), but considering the fact that the bird is never even given a NAME, I’d say they failed miserably in this.

Nintendo should have either given it an official name or let us pick its name. I’d name it Epona.

10. Navi

Navi is noteworthy in that she’s the face of not only Zelda companions, but video game companions in general.

That’s about it, though. See, the thing is, Navi isn’t an actual character. She never had much of a personality to begin with, and she certainly doesn’t develop any along the journey. She’s just there to serve as a (lackluster)guide, and nothing more. We’re supposed to believe that Navi and Link have a strong friendship – even to the extent that Link spends his days searching for her after the events of Ocarina of Time – but sadly, this is never shown in any capacity, and so it fails to elicit any emotional response.

Her entire characterization more or less sources from her “Hey!” and “Listen!” voice clips.

9. Tatl

And here we have Navi’s superior yet much less iconic successor.

Tatl is Nintendo’s second try at giving Link a fairy companion, and thankfully it’s a marked improvement. Whereas Navi had no characterization whatsoever and was a lackluster guide, Tatl actually has some characterization and is a slightly less lackluster guide. Initially hostile towards Link and aligning herself with Skull Kid, she eventually warms up to the green-clad hero; that’s right, she actually gets CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, which must have been a series first. Unlike with Navi’s leaving, the moment where Link and Tatl part ways is actually a little emotional.

Tatl doesn’t get enough credit: she’ll forever be remembered as yellow Navi despite being better in every way.

8. Epona

It must be sacrilege to place Epona so low, but there’s good reason for that: she’s not much of a character.

Yeah, she’s a classic. Her subplot in Ocarina of Time was great, but outside of that she’s never been more than a mode of transportation. I suppose I can’t expect much more considering that she’s a horse rather than a humanoid being capable of dialogue and character development and what-have-you, but hey, that’s why she’s being placed this low. That and the fact that her actual usefulness tends to be questionable.

Love the coloration, though. Always a classic.

7. Ciela

Yes, yes, I know, it’s sacrilege that I place Ciela this far up. Phantom Hourglass gets a lot of hate, but you know what? It had some damn good companions, and Ciela is easily the most useful AND developed fairy partner the series has seen.

Ciela is an amnesiac fairy who can’t remember any life she had prior to living her days on an island with Oshus. She decides to accompany Link on his quest and eventually regains her memory, realizing that she’s the Spirit of Time and Courage and can use her powers to aid Link in the final battle by stopping time. And then, of course, there’s her rivalry-turned-friendship with Linebeck. Taking all of this into account, I feel it’s simply not possible to make a compelling case for Ciela being anything but the best fairy partner; anyone dismissing her will do so simply because of the game she appears in, failing to properly assess her value as a companion character.

Ultimately her biggest weakness as a character is looking too much like Navi.

6. Ezlo

Having Link’s cap be his companion is a pretty neat idea, and I think Ezlo sticks out as one of the better companions despite Minish Cap not getting . very much attention.

What endears the character so much to me is how rude he is to Link. He’s got such pure, concentrated snark that he doesn’t hesitate to unleash on the hero, but despite that he does care about Link. Add on top of that the fact that he allows for an interesting gameplay mechanic by shrinking Link along with his backstory, which gives him an amount of plot relevance many partners lack, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine companion.

Maybe his design isn’t the best, though. Makes Link’s hat look even goofier.

5. Fi

Fi gets so much hate, and I’m sure some people will be annoyed that she’s in the top five, but she deserves it.

The concept alone is incredible. She’s the MASTER SWORD. Having Link’s iconic weapon be his companion is fantastic, and I love her spirit form design, with the similar aesthetic/color scheme. Her theme is incredible and easily one of the best pieces in Skyward Sword, which is saying something. Her robotic, literally-minded personality allows for some entertaining dialogue as well as some character development in the game’s tearjerker ending. And she even had a cameo in Breath of the Wild! I’d love to see her make some more appearances throughout the franchise.

Also, just gonna say it: people totally overblow the handholding thing. Yes, she does it too much, but it’s not anywhere close to the level of irritation that people would have you believe.

Her leggings match the Master Sword’s hilt… UGGGGGGHHHH, she’s so well-designed.

4. Zelda

People like to debate which Zelda incarnation is the best. Typically it’s Breath of the Wild, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword Zelda that are lauded as the greats, which is a shame, because Spirit Tracks Zelda really stood out. Especially because she’s actually your companion throughout the entire game.

Early on in Spirit Tracks, Zelda’s spirit is separated from her body, and her ghost follows Link around for the entirety of the game. She has a fun personality and her bond with Link grows, but that’s not important. The REAL draw here is that this is the closest we’ve ever gotten to a playable Zelda: she can actually possess phantoms, allowing you to use her in certain dungeon segments as well as some particularly neat boss battles. This seems to be the closest to a playable Zelda Aonuma and company are willing to give us, and if that’s the case, I’d definitely like to see her as a companion again.

Why is Link shielding her like that when she’s already a ghost? She’s (temporarily)dead, there’s nothing to be done to her.

3. King of Red Lions/Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule

I’ve always thought the King of Hyrule was an underutilized character. He was just a corpse in A Link to the Past… could easily have been in Ocarina of Time but wasn’t. It wasn’t until The Wind Waker that the Kingdom of Hyrule’s King finally made a legitimate appearance, and at that point there was no Kingdom left! And he’s dead! Kind of like Bosphoramus in Breath of the Wild! What’s with all these dead kings?!

Anyway, the point is it was neat to finally have the King of Hyrule as an established character: and as Link’s companion, no less! Having him as the boat makes him absolutely CENTRAL to the game; he’s not a mere optional method of transportation like Epona, and his ranking as a companion is all the better for it. The surprise of learning that the King of Red Lions is possessed by the King of Hyrule was a fun twist, and having him be Ganondorf’s undoing was awesome. And, of course, there’s the big tearjerker at the end: he chooses to drown with Hyrule rather than join Link and his daughter in moving on.

Don’t like the sleeves gong past his hands, though. Makes him a little harder to take seriously.

2. Midna

I personally don’t care for Midna much. If I were going PURELY off of personal bias she’d be a few spots down. But I must admit that even if she didn’t do much for ME, she’s one of the more well-done characters in the series.

And that’s it. I don’t need to explain why. She’s Midna. We all know why she’s beloved.

Somehow this figure elicited a plethora of deviantart fetish material. I don’t understand it myself.

1. Linebeck

Linebeck is the most underrated character in the entire Zelda franchise. He’s easily the best companion in the series, and the only reason he isn’t recognized as such is because he’s from Phantom Hourglass, so he gets dismissed.

He provides transportation via boat similarly to the King of Red Lions, but forget about that, because that isn’t what makes him great: it’s his character development. Linebeck’s arc is incredible. He starts off as narcissistic, greedy, and cowardly, acting dismissive towards Link and Ciela and letting them do all of the work. But as time goes on, you start to see Linebeck show shades of appreciation for his crew. This culminates in a climax that has Linebeck take up the sword of an incapacitated Link, standing up to the final boss(despite visibly shaking in fright) in order to save Link before getting possessed himself and serving as the game’s final boss. There aren’t a lot of Zelda characters that get a legitimate character arc, and Linebeck has the most developed one.

His progression from comedically unlikable jerk to genuinely lovable ally is strikingly similar to that of Groose: and everybody praises Groose as one of the best Zelda characters for his arc. Linebeck should by all means get the same sort of credit, but he doesn’t, as he’s relegated to Phantom Hourglass. And that’s a crying shame.

I’d welcome a Phantom Hourglass remake solely so that Linebeck could get a much-needed chance to shine.