With a series as long-running and story-driven as The Legend of Zelda, it's no surprise that many members of the cast have left a strong impression on gamers over the years.
WARNING: All spoilers are unmarked.
The Legend of Zelda (1986)
- The Old Man. He only appeared in this game (and even then he's not really there for long), but damn if he's not the most recognized character from it. It helps that his lines are incredibly memorable and downright weird at times.
- The nameless Secret Moblin(s?) also appears in the game, and literally only has one line, yet it's one of the most memetic in the entire series — "IT'S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY." The line is a frequent subject of fanworks, and the Secret Moblin's motive for helping Link is also a frequent subject of discussion, as Moblins usually work for Ganon, and oppose Link.
- This game marks the first appearance of Dark Link, Link's Enemy Without. He has an immense amount of popularity despite only appearing in a handful of games throughout the series, and usually only then as a silent miniboss without personality. His prominence in fanworks speaks volumes, wherein he's often given his own character outside of Link.
- An NPC who introduces himself with 'I AM ERROR' has become one of the most widespread memes associated with the Zelda franchise, and as such Error is now the most recognised part of the game.
- Blind the Thief is the most remembered boss besides Ganon and Agahnim. Having a backstory as a former photosensitive thief turned monster by the Dark World, a clever Decoy Damsel ploy, and having an exciting and unique boss fight make him stand out among the bosses within the game. His boss fight is a very frequent subject of fanart for Link to the Past.
- Marin is the predecessor to Malon (herself a large darkhorse) and is loved for her kind, adventurous personality and her close relationship with Link. Her unexpected reappearance as a playable character in Hyrule Warriors was a pleasant surprise for many fans.
- The shopkeeper is infamous for his Shoplift and Die policy, and providing a sudden One-Hit Kill through Shock and Awe. He's a frequent subject of parodies.
- The cute, innocent farmgirl Malon. Prior to Twilight Princess, she was probably the second most popular girl in the cast behind Zelda herself, particularly among shippers who insist that the Hero of Time married her instead of any of the other females (the fact that the Link from Twilight Princess is the direct descendant of the Hero of Time and a farmer boy lends credence to this theory). For a character who is almost completely irrelevant to the main story, this is quite impressive.
- Saria is another girl popular with shippers who prefer the 'childhood friends' angle of her relationship with Link. She's also liked for her cute design and for having one of the catchiest theme songs in the series.
- Koume and Kotake, Ganondorf's twin mothers and the bosses of the Spirit Temple. They're the enemies with the closest ties to the Big Bad, have an interesting Duel Boss battle, and are responsible for many of the game's funniest moments.
- The Fierce Deity is one of the most popular incarnations of Link even though he's only an optional power-up for boss levels, thanks to his cool design, overpowered weapon, and mysterious origin. It says something that the fanbase was ecstatic when he was revealed as one of adult Link's palette swaps in Smash.
- Likewise, the Happy Mask Salesman is beloved for being so very mysterious and eccentric, his true motives and backstory a frequent target for Epileptic Trees. Besides that is his hilariously dark quirk of losing his shit at the drop of a hat.
- Tingle is an interesting case in that he's the trope namer for Americans Hate Tingle; while he has his fair share of American detractors, he's one of the most popular characters in Japan — to the point of receiving his own multi-game spin-off — and also beat out many fan-favourites in a UK popularity poll. The overseas hate for him receded somewhat come Hyrule Warriors, where he had a unique playstyle that often had him suffer from Amusing Injuries.
- Cremia and Romani, for being Expies of Malon's two ages, having a good backstory with some tragedy to it, and hosting one of the game's more strange and memorable sidequests, "Them".
- Ralph is very popular among fans of the games for contributing to Ages' funnier moments, being a non-Link hero who tries to do something, having an interesting background as Queen Ambi's descendant, and his relationship with Nayru. Seasons not having any equivalent to Ralph is considered to be a big reason why its plot was less interesting than Ages.
- Great Moblin, the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain of both games, is liked by the fandom for providing a humorous foe, and giving more depth to the Moblins besides enemies to defeat.
- The two Sages, Medli and Makar. The former is a plucky bird girl involved in a bittersweet romance with her childhood friend, while the latter is a ridiculously adorable critter. They work surprisingly well as escorts, in part because you can control them, and any frustrations can be vented by having Medli fly into walls, or Makar walk into spikes.
- Bokoblins can be considered this, seeing as how they can be funny, Ugly Cute, and unusually intelligent Mooks (operating searchlights, piloting submarines, picking up weapons when disarmed — including the enormous swords used by Darknuts). They've already been retooled and reintroduced in Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.
- The Hero's Shade. It only appears a handful of times to teach Link some new sword techniques, but its badass atmosphere and possible connections to Ocarina of Time (he's all but confirmed in Hyrule Historia to be the Hero of Time-era Link) meant those segments were well remembered.
- Similar to Great Moblin, King Bulblin is quite popular for his unique mounted boss battles throughout the game, and determination. That he has more depth as an actual character than just a random boss, and ends up acknowledging Link as a Worthy Opponent, makes him quite memorable among fans.
- Agitha is also quite the standout. Despite being yet another NPC that gives Link a major sidequest, her mannerisms and oftentimes strange obsessions made her popular with fans. Apparently popular enough to be made into an Unexpected Character for Hyrule Warriors.
- Koloktos is usually regarded as the best boss in the game, and for good reason. It has a beautiful design that nicely matches the motif of its dungeon, has amazing music, and fights you with six giant swords at once (that you can then pick up and fight back with).
- Scervo, a dignified undead pirate cyborg that you fight aboard the Sandship. Even the emotionless Fi admits that she admires him.
- The Thief Girl, for being the core mechanic of the Best Level Ever as well as for being an effective Red Herring for players of the original A Link to the Past.
- The warriors, Wizzro and Volga, are both popular for being cool, being great fighters, and forming the first villainous group in the franchise. Volga in particular is liked a lot as a fearsome, handsome, hammy Dragon Knight that's essentially Hyrule's version of Lu Bu.
- The Four Champions of the Divine Beasts are all quite popular thanks to all of them having diverse personalities, designs and in general are all super supportive of Link and Zelda in defeating Ganon (well except Revali). One complaint that some people have with the game is that the champions don't have a larger role in the story once you free them, mainly because they've been dead for 100 years prior — and have a zero percent chance of coming back for the sequel since it is heavily implied that they passed to the afterlife at the end of the game.
- The characters that support Link getting to the Divine Beasts, Sidon, Yunobo, Teba and Riju have quite a few fans themselves, but Sidon is easily the most popular character in the game for his looks, personality and overall his Bro Mance with Link.
- Kass is a wandering Rito minstrel, who bears absolutely no weight on the plot whatsoever, but will show up at every stable and offer hints for a handful of hidden shrine locations. That's all. However the fandom has fallen in love with him, and for many players is considered the face of the game. The "Champions' Ballad" DLC gives him a greater role.
- As far as enemies go, Lynels are the most popular. They are huge Lion Centaurs who can remain a legitimate threat throughout the entire game even as Link upgrades to the best armor and weapons, and take a great deal of skill and patience to beat. When a new Golden Version was introduced in DLC, fans were quite excited!
- Various characters from The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games, due to YouTube Poop boosting their various silly lines to memetic status. Examples include:
- Morshu is simply a plot-unimportant shopkeeper, with only two lines, yet they're used for countless memes, and Morshu himself is one of the most iconic of the game's cast.
- Mayor Cravendish is similar, as he also only has a few lines, but they're all memes.
- Gwonam a.k.a. Squadalah Man is simply a Mr. Exposition in the game, but fanworks make him one of the protagonists.
- King Harkinian is only really important to the storyline of Wand of Gamelon, and not very much at that. He only ever shows up in the intros and endings of the games. However, he's one of the staples of YouTube Poop, even showing up more than the CD-i versions of Link and Zelda.