Cosplay, as we know it, is a relatively recent hobby. For those who are outside of the geek and nerd communities, cosplay is a confusing and somewhat off-putting phenomenon. However, for those who can appreciate it, it is an invaluable form of self-expression and celebration of the things we love most. Cosplay is shared between the gamers, the comic book geeks, the manga lovers, and the anime fans. It’s one of the few things that can bring all of us together. Just step into any anime or video game convention and you’ll find hundreds of people in full cosplay. There will be everything from the hastily thrown together closet cosplay to the professional grade costumes that took years to complete.
Creating the costume is a labor of love. It costs a lot to make a cosplay and plenty more if you want to buy one. People often spend months if not years perfecting their outfits. This is especially true when props are required. Cosplay doesn’t just involve the outfit, most characters have iconic items or adornments that make them who they are. Cosplayers have to learn how to sew, craft, and even make electrical circuits in order to accurately recreate their desired character. So it’s important to celebrate those who do it well.
My focus is solely on those who cosplay characters from the Legend of Zelda series. These talented people worked tirelessly to become the best Zelda, Link, or Ganondorf they could be. Except, they didn’t just create splendid outfits, they look good in them too. These are the 25 cosplayers who have truly embodied their characters.
25 Rachel Nycole
The Great Fairy from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was an awakening for a lot of kids. Her provocative form and leaf adornments were hard to miss. But, the Great Fairy isn’t just beautiful, she’s powerful and playful too. Every time Link unlocks a fairy fountain, she is waiting to greet him. The Great Fairy floats above young Link and bestows him with a variety of different abilities that help him on his quest.
Rachel Nycole managed to turn the childhood dreams of many kids into a reality. An insane amount of confidence and self-assurance is needed in order to dress and act out the Great Fairy. Rachel performs beautifully. Her body is adorned in carefully crafted leaves. An equal amount of care went into creating her unabashedly neon pink wig. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a freelance makeup artist. I can only imagine how long it took to paint her face like that.
24 Ely Renae
Let’s talk villains. More specifically, gender-bent villains. Ely Renae’s feminine version of Ganondorf, aka Lady Ganondorf, is as beautiful as she is powerful and terrifying. Although Ely doesn’t specifically state which Ganon she chose to rule 63, I’d put my money on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Shocker, I know. Ely’s craftsmanship is top notch. Most of this cosplay relies on her convincing and extraordinarily detailed armor. A lot of these details, like the subtle designs on the dark depressions of her chest plate or the cuffs on her gloves, had to be designed from scratch. However, what she didn’t invent she lovingly recreated from the Twilight Princess design. The most impressive piece in her ensemble is easily her crown. The metalwork and shape are stunning; the perfect blend of originality and faithful recreation.
All shall bow before this mighty witch lest she transform into the terrifying beast of destruction!
23 Lexi (2Dismine)
It’s hard not to fall in love with this Princess Ruto cosplay. Princess Ruto hails from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and is one of the most memorable characters from the game; if only because she’s so obnoxious. We first meet Ruto as a snobby, pushy child who is spoiled completely rotten. As the game progresses, we see her again in her full adult glory. For those who aren’t drooling over her, she’s still pretty obnoxious. However, Lexi’s beauty and grace as she poses on the boulder wipes all of that from your mind. Her outfit is spectacularly made. Delicate, semi-transparent fins drape from her arms and waist. Pearls decorate her torso. The complex paint patterns that decorate her entire body are mesmerizing to look at. Not to mention the skill that went into crafting, painting, and mounting her headpiece is enviable.
Lexi, aka The Blue Girl, is a media arts graduate with an affinity for special effects makeup and unusual cosplay. She’s cosplayed a variety of different characters and ended up on the cover of several magazines.
22 Layze Michelle
There have been a lot Zelda’s over the years and even more who cosplay them. Layze Michelle has created cosplay for six different variations of Zelda. In addition to the A Link Between Worlds Zelda that she portrays above, she’s created Zelda cosplays from Twilight Princess, Hyrule Warriors, Breath of the Wild, Skyward Sword, and Wind Waker. Lazye Michelle might just be the quintessential Zelda. She’s beautiful, poised, and has a lot of talent for creating costumes. What’s even more impressive is her Medli cosplay from Wind Waker. The Rito are a people with bird-like characteristics and she managed to create a convincing cosplay with wings!
A lot of what makes Layze Michelle’s cosplays stand out is the simplicity of them. Don’t get me wrong, she can get very detailed and do the detailing well. However, the simplicity of her A Link Between Worlds Zelda is enchanting. There are no extraneous details and she lets her work speak for itself.
It’s hard to say what I like most about this cosplay. Like many of the other Midna cosplayers, Yurai demonstrates her skills in crafts and sewing. However, this particular Midna appears as if she is glowing. While a lot of the glow in this particular photograph is done through photo manipulation, the outfit itself contains a slightly reflective green material. It helps give the cosplay a somewhat unearthly feel to it. The effect is absolutely fitting for a character that hails from the Twilight Realm. It is a small attention to detail that many Midna cosplayers overlook.
Yurai won competitions with her cosplay partner who Nair who portrayed a Twilight Princess version of Link. Yurai and Nair have done a lot of partner cosplays together. They work wonderfully as a team. It’s unsurprising that their cosplays are as good as they are. Yurai started cosplaying back in 2002 and won several awards from around throughout Europe.
20 Talia Mira
This gorgeous shot comes from the professional cosplay photographer Beethy and the amazing cosplayer Talia Mira. What really makes this cosplay stand out isn’t just her posing, but the stunning detail and work that went into the cosplay itself. The arms and skirt are hemmed with delicate golden lace. Intricate golden patterns are sewn into the body of the tunic. If you look closely, you can see these golden details around the brim of the hat. Granted, these details aren’t accurate, but they give the cosplay a unique sense of style. Another masterful design comes from the gauntlets and boots. Again, they aren’t accurate to the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but the sheer amount of work and polishing that went into making them can’t be dismissed. Plus, the addition of the ocarina is a great touch.
Talia Mira’s take of Link is inventive and original. She has a keen eye for detail that can be seen in her other cosplays.
19 Rachel Nycole
It’s amazing how many excellent Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild cosplays there are. The game came out fairly recently and cosplays at this level are time and energy intensive. Yet, Rachel Nycole managed to accurately recreate Princess Zelda with an impressive amount of detail. Everything is there, from the sharp contrast of the blue and gold to the carved details of her belts and a full sized Sheika Slate. Even her golden hair is braided into a crown, adorned with two game accurate pins, and shaped match the game. She looks like she just stepped out of a Switch screen. Rachel wears the outfit with all the poise and dignity you expect from a beautiful and highly intelligent princess like Zelda.
Rachel has worked extensively with a variety of different cosplays and is even a freelance makeup artist. She hooks her love of crafts and cosplay to create stunning pieces like this one.
18 Holly Wolf
Holly Wolf is one of the most accomplished cosplayers on this list. She is a professional model, actor, and dancer. She’s won awards for her cosplay and was featured in several magazines both on the cover and six page spreads. Cosplay is a real passion project for her and her experience as a professional really shows.
It is hard not to stop and admire her and her work. Her outfit is well made and a near perfect recreation of Zelda from The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. It was hard to choose which photo to use since she did an entire photo shoot and a video in full cosplay. Holly’s personal touch to the character adds a real sense of weight and maturity. Zelda is a fun and strong woman, but she’s also quite sad. The weight of the world and its fate rests on her shoulders and she knows it. Holly manages to pull that heavy burden into her portrayal of Zelda.
Midna is one of, if not the most, compelling characters in The Legend of Zelda franchise. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is her story. Although you play as Link, the entire game revolves around her. She starts out as an obnoxious, bossy imp, and evolves into a strong and spectacular princess that is not to be trifled with. The relationship between her and Link starts off as one of convenience, but by the end of the game the bond between her and Link is unbreakable.
Recreating Midna is no easy task. Especially if you’re going for her true form. Her design is insanely complex. Spicy-Seasoning managed to recreate Midna down to the smallest detail. Not only did she manage to create an amazing cloak that is patterned both inside and out; but her body suit, head ornaments, and wig are marvels to behold. As beautiful as she looks, she had to do an unenviable amount of work. Spicy-Seasoning even made a small comment about just how much she had to paint on her DeviantArt page.
Talk about flexible. But managing to get into a pose like that and holding it involves a lot more than just flexibility. The power and balance required to contort into a position like that is downright impressive.
Rhazia showcases her physical prowess in her Sheik cosplay. There are a variety of other photos where she manages to recreate a variety of Sheik’s postures. It is worth noting that Rhazia’s particular inspiration for her Sheik came from the Super Smash Bros. series and not the actual Legend of Zelda games. However, she gets a pass since Sheik is heavily based on the original character design in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Rhazia’s Sheik is fairly faithful to her Smash Bros. design. Although it isn’t a 100% recreation, it gets the job done and does it well. It’s not hard to picture Rhazia as a secret Sheika ninja. Plus, she manages to hit that sacred androgynous sweet spot that helps to bring her cosplay to the next level.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Link is my favorite Link. He’s got a snarky personality and isn’t afraid to completely ditch gender norms. One part of the game requires Link to dress as a Gerudo Vai (woman) in order to sneak into the Gerudo Town. The Gerudo, for those who are unaware, are a group of warrior women that do not permit voe (men) into their town. So, Breath of the Wild Link happily embraces his feminine side and cross-dresses to get into town.
SerinuCeli’s rendition of Gerudo Link is a gender-bend of a gender-bend. Yet, she pulls the cosplay off magnificently. Granted, I doubt she crafted her outfit out of silk, but the cloth she picked manages to mimic the stylized look of Breath of the Wild. Her simple adornments work well together and the outfit is quite flattering on her. SerinuCeli poses confidently with that little bit of cheek that I’ve come to expect from Breath of the Wild Link.
14 Nana Ichigo And Fantastic Leo
This stellar photograph gives us two amazing cosplayers for the price of one. The dynamic duo of Impa and Sheik goes all the way back to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. However, unlike Sheik who’s only mainline title is Ocarina, Impa’s conception goes all the way back to the start of The Legend of Zelda series. Impa has faithfully remained by Princess Zelda’s side and seeing these two together sends chills down your spine.
Nana Ichigo (Sheik) and Fantastic Leo (Impa) chose the Hyrule Warriors designs for both characters. Frankly, I can’t blame them. The Hyrule Warriors designs are a great blend of detail and simplicity. The cohesion these two have together is remarkable, and the work they put into their cosplays is impressive, to say the least. Both women wear their cosplay with power and beauty. Although, I would not want to mess with Fantastic Leo and her fantastically long weapon.
Zelda in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is by far one of my favorite Zelda’s. She has a ton of personality. You spend most of the time chasing after her as she gets through the various dungeons faster than you do. She’s fun. She’s playful. She’s got a lot of spirit to her and is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish her goals. While Skyward Sword wasn’t the best Zelda games, it certainly had a fantastic story.
Shappi absolutely managed to bring Skyward Sword’s Zelda to life. It isn’t just the fantastic work she did in putting the cosplay together. It’s how she framed Zelda in this photo. The picture of her running with a carefree smile and her Goddess's Harp is a beautiful representation of the character. That, and I’m always a sucker for a harp.
It isn’t surprising that Shappi was able to put together such a well crafted and convincing ensemble. Shappi started cosplaying back in 2009 and works professionally as both a cosplayer, a contest organizer, and a costume creator. Talk about doing what you love.
Cosplay isn’t always about faithfully recreating our favorite characters. While it is always exciting to see game or show accurate costumes, a lot of cosplay is also about adding your own spin to the outfit. Sometimes this means mashing two characters together to create an awesome combination. It could also mean completely tossing the character on its head.
HelloDarkside chose to go the second route with her Dark Princess Zelda cosplay. Instead of seeing the traditional glamor of the mortal goddess, Dark Zelda gives us the bad girl. She isn’t just Zelda’s Lorule counterpart, she’s Zelda’s shadow. She's accompanied by the—Draco as a more traditional Dark Link. HelloDarkside created a beautiful black dress with golden highlights and armored shoulder pads. It absolutely gives off a darker feel to the Twilight Princess Zelda. Of course, given the darker themes of that game, the costume is completely fitting. Step aside Ganondorf because there is a new queen of darkness in town.
11 RikkuGrate, Angiechuu, And Spicy Seasoning
This stunning photo gives us three in one with a beautiful portrayal of the princesses from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and the hardworking Postwoman as she faithfully delivers her letters. Not only is the work on all of their outfits stellar, but the position and pose each woman chose absolutely fits their character. Midna stands above the others, as usual, and looks down at Zelda. Zelda returns Midna’s gaze and contrasts her hard stance with a delicate dancers stance. Of course, to the Postwoman adds a little hint of comedy to the serious air and is absolutely ignored by both the characters and the plot. Poor Postwoman, she tries so hard.
Spicy Seasoning is featured in this photo in her stunning Midna outfit with RikkuGrape (Regina Marie) as Zelda and Angiechuu as the Postwoman. All three women are accomplished cosplayers. Angiechuu is a graphic artist and photographer. Regina was featured in Nintendo Life for her Zelda cosplays.
We have another lovely Ruto from Minus10DegreesCelsius. This particular Ruto hails from her bigger, badder counterpart in Hyrule Warriors. Unlike some of the other characters in the Zelda franchise, Ruto’s design didn’t change all that much. Her fins are stiffer, and she plays a much more active role in Hyrule Warriors (although she still needs to be carried into battle). However, aside from a couple of extra adornments, the two versions are essentially the same design. Even so, the two Ruto cosplays couldn’t be any more different.
Lexi’s Ruto was far more stylized. Minus10DegreesCelsius went for a far more accurate betrayal of the character. Her patterns are larger and more deliberate. Her fins are rigid. She looks far more cartoonish, but it absolutely works. Minus10DegreesCelsius clearly put a lot of time and effort into her cosplay. The fins, jewelry, and headpiece demonstrate her skill with crafts. Much like the real Ruto, she sits poised and ready for a servant to wait on her hand and foot.
9 Lindsay Elyse
If there is one thing that most Zelda fans can agree on, it is that Navi is the single most obnoxious character in the Zelda franchise. A prodigious number of memes surround the tiny fairy. Most of us who suffered through her constant badgering in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time wanted to throw her into the heart of Death Mountain and leave her there. Lindsay Elyse managed to turn Navi into a stunning cosplay. Between her innocent look and her cheeky sign, this cosplay is enough to make you smile. It’s a fun and inventive take on what is otherwise a despised character.
Of course, Lindsay an accomplished cosplayer. She’s created spectacular costumes for characters like Samus Aran (Metroid), Black Widow (Marvel Comics), and Elsa (Frozen). However, she doesn’t just cosplay. No, her nerd credentials go much deeper than that. Lindsay streams on twitch for the esports group Counter Logic Gaming.
Lorule’s Princess Hilda is not nearly as popular as her Hyrule counterpart, Princess Zelda. Unlike Princess Zelda, Princess Hilda hails from a singular title in the Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.
A Link Between Worlds is the direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The inventive wall merging mechanic breathed new life into the Zelda series. It also introduced Lorule, the dark counterpart to Hyrule. Don’t read dark as evil. Lorule is simply the opposite side of the coin. However, Princess Hilda’s desperation to save Lorule made her a fascinating antagonist throughout the game.
ClaireeL (flying4freedom) did a fantastic job of blending Hilda’s soft nature with her hardened spirit and bringing both to life. She stands dutifully proud in her armor and displaying her powerful staff. The top of the glowing staff features the upside down Lorule Triforce. Her craftsmanship and dedication to accuracy really paid off.
The lovely HylianJean brings the equally enchanting Queen Rutela from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Her impressive mask and sculpting really brings out the character’s inhuman nature. The headdress is one of the most impressive parts of her cosplay. Even so, the delicate fins and sculpting of the dress give her a very elegant and intricate frame.
Queen Rutela is the tragically deceased Queen of the Zoras. Her story is one of heartbreak and tragedy. You never meet her character while she was alive, but a large section of the game is devoted to helping lay her spirit to rest and ensure the safety of her son and her kingdom. There is a lot about her that calls back to Ocarina of Time. Her name resembles Ruto’s, and her theme is a version of the Serenade of Water. HylianJean also did her own version of Ruto, but her Rutela is one of the more unique cosplays I have seen.
Telma is a rather unforgettable side character from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Telma’s role in the story isn’t big. She owns a bar in Hyrule Castle Town and helps Link through his journey. However, what Telma lacks in story, she makes up for in her personality. Telma is a take no prisoners woman with a bawdy and flirtatious sense of humor. She is a great example of a supporting character done right.
Karine_aoi (Anne-Sophie R.) portrays Telma beautifully. She did an impressive amount of work to recreate Telma, especially with that front waist cloth and the detailing on the back. A few of Karine_aoi’s other noteworthy cosplays are her Disney cosplays where she portrays a variety of different characters including Ariel from The Little Mermaid and The Fairy Godmother from Once Upon a Time. Of course. She has also done a variety of other video game characters such as Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) and Nurse Joy (Pokémon series).
5 Kisa Cosplay
Nabooru is another one of those Zelda women that you do not want to cross. She was only ever featured in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but she paved the way for the Gerudo. However, Nabooru isn’t just any old Gerudo; she is the leader of the Gerudo and is second only to Ganondorf. Nabooru and Link work together to help overthrow Ganondorf. Not only do they work together in one of the temples, but Nabooru is also one of the seven sages; the Sage of Spirit.
Steph, aka Kisa Cosplay, is an experienced cosplayer and began back in 2002. She did an excellent job as Nabooru and exudes confidence and charisma. Steph got her degree at Drexel and works professionally as a cosplay creator. Not only does she have her own online store, but she also takes commissions as well. Steph has an incredibly wide portfolio and has created a variety of cosplay from comics, cartoons, and video games.
4 Jessica Huard
The Dark Link most fans know comes from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It’s unsurprising since Dark Link’s presence was a major obstacle to overcome in the dreaded Water Temple. Dark Link was also one of the few good things about that temple. However, Dark Link dates back to the original Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link. Since then, Dark Link has appeared in various Legend of Zelda games as either a mini-boss or a cool cameo.
Jessica Huard created a really cool gender-bent version of Dark Link. Her red eyes are terrifying and the grayscale highlights in her hair are really fun. Although she doesn’t wear much in the way of armor aside from a shoulder pad and some gauntlets, she did find a black Master Sword to help complete her look.
Unlike some of the others on this list, Jessica didn’t go into cosplay or costume making professionally. Instead, she found a different outlet for her creative geek. Jessica designs and sells nerdy shoes.
I’ve shown a lot of appreciation for the female cosplayers, but it’s about time we give some love to the guys as well. After all, it’s not just women that enjoy the hobby.
Laovaan is one of those cosplayers that has done multiple versions of the same character. He’s got both a Hyrule Warriors cosplay of Link and the Twilight Princess version of Link. He’s also done another of other characters including Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians and Noel Kreiss from Final Fantasy XIII. His Twilight Princess Link, however, is by far my favorite if only for that impressive sword and shield. The shield is made out of foam and worbla, but the paint job is very convincing. His cosplay isn’t the most accurate one I’ve seen, but he hits all the major beats and most of the minor ones.
In addition to cosplay, Laovaan is an artist by trade and does a lot of watercolor fan art.
I’ve mentioned my love for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before, particularly when it involves his more amusing outfits. Link in Breath of the Wild owns his femininity and embraces it for the sake of the world. The Gerudo outfit is actually somewhat infamous among Zelda fans. However, there can be no doubt that it takes a lot of bravery and self-assurance for a man to dress up as a Gerudo vai. This is where Vollgart comes in. Volgart is one of the few dudes who’s willing to step up to the plate and own this Gerudo Vai cosplay. Not only did he do a sensational job on the outfit itself, he strikes a lovely dancer's pose to complete the look.
Vollgart isn’t as big into cosplay as some of the others on this list. He is, however, an accomplished artist with his own page on redbubble.
1 Just Plain Hot
These five cosplayers earned their place on this list by being way too hot wear. If you’ve ever cosplayed in the summer for even the shortest amount of time, you’re likely away of just how hot in can get. Most cosplayers are drenched in sweat unless they’re wearing practically nothing. Even then, it can get pretty bad. But these cosplayers not only went out of their way to create elaborate, full body costumes; they braved the heat for the chance to bring part of the games to life. Honestly, it’s a wonder that any of them don’t topple over from heat exhaustion.
The three brave souls in the Wind Waker korok suits are (from left to right) Keyon as Makar, Danielle (silvver) as Drona, and Shawn Tuffy (negativedreamer) as Elma. Shawn has made a name for himself in the cosplay business and sells both full cosplay and cosplay parts on his etsy shop. LilleahWest is the talent behind the fantastic Kass from Breath of the Wild. She’s very experienced when it comes to creating full-bodied, animal suits. The last, but not least in a stunning version of Skull Kid from Majora’s Mask. He’s one half of a cosplay duo called TwinCosplayMex. His partner created an equally detailed Fierce Deity Link from the same game.