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Putting the “Her” in “Hero”: Why Can’t Link Be Female?

by MJ Kuhn

Hello. My name is MJ Kuhn, and I love video games. I grew up playing the old Harvest Moon games, Age of Empires, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, and, of course, The Legend of Zelda. As much as I loved all these games, there was something missing. I was experiencing a disconnect I couldn’t quite identify. I didn’t realize what it was until I played games like Mass Effect and Tomb Raider.

I wanted to play as a woman.

Now, of course, later Harvest Moon games have female farmer options, and Super Mario Bros. is literally the Super Mario Brothers, so that doesn’t make much sense to have you play as, like, Super Maria or something. But, in my opinion, The Legend of Zelda is in a perfect position to bring in a female avatar option. Allow me to make my case.

We have had a post here already about wanting to play as Zelda. This is a totally valid wish and one I would be happy with as well! But let me ask a question: Link is the hero reincarnated, correct? Why can’t the hero just be reincarnated as a woman?

I did some research on the origins of the hero in order to answer this question. The Hyrule Historia says the following:

The heroes of these chronicles all share the name Link. These Links might have been the same person, a series of familial descendants, or a number of heroes with different names entirely. The Links of certain eras may also have been named after the legendary hero (68).

Notice there are no gender-specific pronouns here!

Additional research turned up that the hero is believed to be a descendant of the Knights of Hyrule. Again, we see the word “descendant,” not “son” or “grandson.” This suggests to me that a female descendant would very much be able to fall within existing Zelda lore.

This idea is further supported by the existence of Linkle. Foolish-sounding name aside, Linkle is pretty cool. She believes she is the hero reincarnated, and she fights with dual crossbows, which is objectively awesome. Of course, Linkle exists only in a few off-shoot games and has some pretty unflattering female stereotypes attached (so bad at directions she literally can’t follow a sign? I mean, come on). So I’m not talking about Linkle here; I’m talking about a straight-up female Link.

Think about it: what are the characteristics Link always has? Humble and brave. Willing to step up and save Hyrule from evil. Fights with a sword, a bow, and a dozen other weird, random weapons created for the games. Why can’t we just swap out male Link for a female version who does all these same things?

Link’s character is almost completely mute and is a fairly blank slate, personality-wise. Sure, sometimes he has flirtatious encounters with other characters, but, hey, who said female Link can’t flirt with Zelda (or side characters like Sidon or Ruto), too? And if Nintendo really doesn’t want to broach that topic, they could follow a model like The Wind Waker or Majora’s Mask where there is no hint of a romantic subplot at all.

All in all, I think it would be pretty simple to just allow the player to pick either female or male Link at the beginning of the game and let the action play out with the player’s avatar of choice. Or Nintendo can just go all-in and have a female-Link-only game. I would honestly be thrilled either way!

What do you guys think? Have you ever wondered why the hero has never been reincarnated as a female? Chat with me on Twitter @mj_kuhn!

1 Comment

Jan 17, 2022

You ask why can't Link be female, I ask why should Link be female or why would swapping his gender bennefit? At least over other alternatives. All I see is some un inspired fanfiction novelty that adds nothing and sidelines women I respect such as Zelda, Impa, Medli, Midna, Urbosa, Mipha and others. But instead we get Link with cups on his chest, maybe a bow tie and lipstick. Or rather why is LInk having a Y chromosome better than say Zelda, Impa, or a hypothetical mom, sister, daughter, and wife If you wanna true counterpart that matches or follows Link skills. Real in game women with identities, personalities, abilities, and motivations of their own?

Link being a man might…

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