The truth about all of Link's girlfriends

The Legend of Zelda might be named for a specific woman in Link's life, but oddly enough, she's rarely the only love interest the protagonist has in any of the games he has starred in. There's evidently something about Link's stoic, silent demeanor — or perhaps his extremely fashionable green tunics — that makes him appealing to the various men and women in Hyrule and beyond.

The truth is rarely ever simple, though, and Link might be more lucky than good when it comes to relationships. All of Link's girlfriends in The Legend of Zelda are royalty, powerful entrepreneurs, or heroes in their own right, and Link is actually a pretty terrible and oblivious romantic interest. Here's our list of the most interesting girls in Link's life, and why they could all do much, much better than the Hero of Time.

Princess Zelda - The Ocarina of Time, Breath of the Wild

It's pretty well impossible to avoid talking about Link's romantic life without discussing Princess Zelda, the woman he has saved countless times throughout different locations, time periods, and even universes. If there is one woman who is inextricably, uh, linked to Link, it's the Hyrulean princess herself.

The thing is, though, Zelda is very capable. As Sheik in The Ocarina of Time, for instance, Zelda has survived being hunted relentlessly for seven years, adopting an alternate identity to preserve her life and attempt to create a situation wherein Ganondorf can be defeated. There are certainly issues here — she splits the Legend of Zelda timeline, for instance, creating the Hero's Shade among other problems — but she's at least trying. Link? He's sleeping. For seven years.

This is consistent with other portrayals of Zelda, too. She's a wise princess, constantly beset by trouble but powerful in her own right. In Breath of the Wild, Link's failure as a guardian is key in setting up the danger for the game's narrative, while Zelda attempts to master her magic even further so that they don't lose once more.

Zelda is smart, powerful, and wealthy. Link might save her frequently, but he also causes problems more often than not. Link really needs to step up his game before Zelda wisens up to his act.

Saria - Ocarina of Time

Saria is a Kokiri girl, generally understood to be kindhearted, well-liked, and a childhood friend of Link even though he was an outsider in the Kokiri Forest. She ends up becoming one of the Seven Sages, powerful figures in Ocarina of Time that each represent their races and give Link the medallions necessary to save Hyrule.

Saria is also infatuated with Link, as her close friend Mido confirms when Link plays Saria's Song for him at any point after learning it and defeating Phantom Ganon. Despite not being able to live in the same plane, Saria also promises Link she'll look over him from the Sacred Realm.

That kind of dedication is really more than Link deserves, as he spent years in the Kokiri Forest patently ignoring the fact that Saria might have feelings for him. That's a running theme with our hero, who seems to be unable to process what a relationship is beyond just using people for their skills.

Saria even gives Link his first ocarina! Meanwhile, during Link's seven-year nap, she ends up captured within a dungeon. Link saves her, but let's be honest: Mido was a way better friend, and Saria deserves at least that kind of response to her incredible strength of character.

Princess Ruto - Ocarina of Time

Princess Ruto is unlucky enough to end up in a relationship that is even worse than Link's usual standards, which are set so low it boggles the mind any woman could be disappointed by his behavior. Ruto is the Princess of the Zoras, a race of water-dwelling folk in Ocarina of Time, and another of the Seven Sages, which is apparently just a short list of people who'd really like to date Link.

Ruto is impressed by a young Link's courage, challenging Link to find her in a dungeon while the warrior slays monsters and bosses with ease. After acknowledging his prowess, Ruto offers Link the Zora's Sapphire, stating that whoever accepts it is pledged to be her husband. Link, in his infinite wisdom, somehow fails to understand the terms and accepts the stone anyway.

Fast forward seven years and Ruto, as the Sage of Water, scolds Link for making her wait so long to be married. In fact, he's waited just long enough that they can't be together, as she has Sage duties to attend to. Apparently, she may have had children at some point, but it seems unlikely Link was the father. If Link can't understand the basic principles of being engaged, it seems questionable that he'd know some of the more complex nuances of relationships.

Despite being led on by an apathetic Link, Ruto handles the engagement well. She's obviously much more mature — and intelligent — than our protagonist, and Link's lucky he didn't get himself in more trouble than he did. What a boyfriend!

Rosa - Oracle of Seasons

Rosa is a rarity in The Legend of Zelda's mythos: she's one of the few women to ever successfully go on a date with Link. Given how many girlfriends he's had, it's understandable that many would think this isn't such an accomplishment, but once again we have to stress just how oblivious Link is. Somehow he didn't understand what marriage was, he vandalizes people's pottery routinely without consideration, and although this last one isn't really his fault, his full name is Link Link. There's a lot to unpack there.

Rosa, on the other hand, is a superstar pop singer of the Subrosian people from Oracle of Seasons. You can tell because she's wearing a bow on top of her cloak, which obviously denotes how good someone is at making music. Link first meets her by eavesdropping on her, learning where the Temple of Seasons is. He then follows her to find a hidden portal into the city.

Later, after having stalked her, he learns that Rosa has lost her ribbon and, sensing as good an opportunity as any to get his way, Link purchases her a new one so that he can go on a "date" with her while she unlocks various doors in Subrosia that Link otherwise couldn't get through. She then waits patiently for Link to arrive for another date while the protagonist simply wanders off and continues his journey.

Look, if you haven't figured it out by now, Link is kind of a dick.

Navi the Fairy - Ocarina of Time

Navi's romantic entanglement with Link is perhaps the saddest and most frustrating of any of his interests. Navi is the fairy companion made famous in Ocarina of Time and, while she certainly nags the hero at times, she is an invaluable companion for Link and someone without whom Link would have surely failed his quest.

Navi is always there for Link. No matter what he needs, the fairy accompanies him, helping whenever she can and always providing support or insight into a situation whenever applicable. She is the most loyal companion Link has likely ever had, and yet she inexplicably leaves Link behind at the Temple of Time after Ganondorf is defeated. Why is that?

Well, it's possibly because Link never acknowledged the feelings Navi had for him. It isn't obvious in game, but Shigeru Miyamoto stated that Navi was "jealous of Zelda" and developed feelings for Link over the course of Ocarina of Time; furthermore, the manga adaptation of the games, though non-canonical, has Navi cry out "Link … I love you!" while leaving the Temple of Time.

Link never really acknowledges Navi as anything more than a friend, though, even taking her for granted at certain points while interacting with other love interests like Zelda or Ruto right in front of her. Ouch.

Paya - Breath of the Wild

Paya is a young Sheikah woman from the Kakariko Village of Breath of the Wild. She's also the granddaughter of Impa, a recurring character in the series who is typically a bodyguard of Princess Zelda's, but in this iteration is the elder of the village, meaning that Paya has pedigree and a wise teacher to instruct her.

Paya falls for Link during her continued interactions with him, and she lays it on way, way thicker than most of his other girlfriends, even the ones who try and force him into marriage. Despite becoming flustered while speaking to Link, she hints that she has an interesting birthmark "somewhere" on her body, suggesting that someday she'll show him before Impa intervenes to protect her granddaughter's privacy.

Link, in classic fashion, is the one who brings the birthmark up in the first place, asking other sensitive information as well like the cultural significance of the talisman tattooed on Paya's forehead. Throughout, Link behaves more like a lunkhead, insensitively navigating a very charged interaction and doing so poorly that Impa needs to step in to prevent it from getting even more awkward.

Luckily, no one ever confused Link for someone who was smooth, but this is egregious even by the subterranean bar the hero has set for himself when dealing with women.

Malon - Ocarina of Time

Link first meets Malon in Ocarina of Time as one of the co-owners of the Lon Lon Ranch, a place where she and her father Talon raise cows, horses, and Link's mortal enemies the Cuccos. It's an innocuous meeting, and Link is tasked with finding Talon and returning him to the ranch.

Upon doing so, Malon becomes instantly iconic within the franchise by enabling Link to tame and bond with the horse Epona. After Link saves Talon again, the man offers his daughter's hand in marriage jokingly, and it's clearly something Link never considers.

However, there are hints that Malon would like it if Link gave it more consideration, something that we know would never happen because Link thinking about something for longer than a few seconds might break him. In the non-canon manga, Malon is another character who is confirmed to have strong feelings for Link, falling in love with him after he plays her Epona's Song on the ocarina.

Of Link's supposed girlfriends, Malon is among the few who he treats pretty well. He saves her ranch twice, takes incredible care of Malon's favorite horse, and even unwinds by racing horses at the Lon Lon Ranch. Still, Link never makes a move, and Malon is left alongside all the other girls in Ocarina of Time who are spurned by an oblivious Hero of Time.

Tetra - Wind Waker

Technically, Tetra is a descendant of Princess Zelda, which makes this one kind of weird, although the series' timelines are quite messed up and the Link that Tetra meets is not the same one as the one who is usually involved with the Princess of Hyrule.

Tetra is also unique to this list because she doesn't even have the benefit of being frequently saved by Link to help explain her interest in him; she's usually the one doing the saving. Tetra lets Link travel on her pirate ship, reluctantly keeps his presence a secret on Windfall Island, distracts the Helmaroc King so that Link can rescue his sister, and returns Link's sister to Outset Island for free despite it being a long journey. She even attempts to attack Ganondorf in order to save Link after his attack on him fails, helping him finally defeat him with Light Arrows later. All of this helps Tetra begin to fall for Link, probably because she likes him and is worried leaving him alone for more than minutes at a time will result in his untimely demise.

Maybe that's why Link actually responds to her interest in him, deciding to find a new land to call Hyrule together. In classic Link fashion, he shows no understanding of the fact that this is probably a romantic endeavor for Tetra, but the fact that he actually went out of his way to do something for another person without any ulterior motive is a refreshing change of character for a protagonist who too often saves or aids people in exchange for a trinket that's going to open a dungeon door.

Peatrice - Skyward Sword

Peatrice is a successful woman in Skyward Sword, residing with her father Peater near the Bazaar. She runs the Item Check store and is clearly well off, but feels something is lacking in her life, stating that she is lonely and desperately wants to love someone to break up the monotony of her job.

It's times like those that even someone as emotionally dense as Link becomes appealing, and our hero arrives just in time to build up a strong rapport with her. Then, Skyward Sword offers players a choice: Peatrice will invite Link to her house one night and confess her love for him, allowing them to choose to return the feelings or break her heart.

The thing is, either way Link goes about it, he's breaking someone's heart. Peatrice adores him and will become clearly depressed if Link turns her down, still minding the shop but in an apathetic, lethargic manner. If Link does return her affection, she'll be overjoyed, but the fairy spirit Fi will advise Link not to inform Zelda of this interaction when he sees her next, clearly indicating that the duo believe Link is cheating on the princess.

Either way, it's just another indication that Link might be a hero in the global sense, but something of a wreck when it comes to maintaining relationships with the women who are interested in him.

Midna - Twilight Princess

Midna is The Legend of Zelda's take on the tsundere girlfriend archetype. A Twili princess, she's a mischievous character who is a departure from the other girls who are typically interested in Link, expressing a cynical distaste for many elements of their adventure and a sense of humor that leans a little toward darker, macabre amusement.

Midna is actually killed by Ganondorf during the game, but is later resurrected by the Light Spirits, revealing her true form as a fully-grown Twili woman. Link is speechless, and Midna says goodbye, having to depart to her realm and destroying the only thing connecting the two worlds together in the process. Midna sheds a tear, appearing to try to tell Link she has strong feelings for him before deciding against it and leaving.

Link, as always, just carries on. Theoretically, there may be a way to connect the two worlds or travel between them once more, and thus Link could possibly see Midna again. If there is a way, though, it's possible that we'll never find it; Link doesn't seem particularly interested in finding Midna, after all, because the end of Twilight Princess hints that Link is probably heading back to Hyrule Castle to be with Princess Zelda after all.

C'mon, Link. At least put in the bare minimum of effort, here.