Samus Aran is one of the most unique protagonists in Nintendo’s lineup in large part due to the fact that she’s the same character each game in a continuous story. Mario is always Mario, but his games don’t exactly connect in a linear, narrative sense. The Legend of Zelda games have an established continuity, and but Link is constantly being swapped out for different incarnations of the character. Samus stands alone as the one protagonist who has starred in a continuous story with no reboots since their debut. As a result, she comes off as perhaps the most dynamic of Nintendo’s characters.
At the very least, she’s the character with the most secrets under her belt. Even though the Metroid franchise tends to be rather liberal with releases, games rarely if ever coming out back to back, the mere fact that Samus has stayed one character all throughout has done wonders for her lore. Games can expand her strengths while also showcasing her greatest weaknesses. She’s a dynamic character with depth, one who’s almost always in control, but at times weaker than portrayed as super fans will understand. She’s stronger than she looks and far more vulnerable than she lets on. She’s the one and only Samus Aran.
25 WEAKNESS: Samus Often Forgets Her Upgrades
Samus, like Mega Man, often finds herself the victim of her own forgetfulness. While she tends to bring the most essential items from mission to mission, she’s prone to leaving vital equipment behind for whatever reason. This is most egregious in the first three games where she carries over virtually nothing, requiring her to find new upgrades.
At least she's never forgotten her keys at home.
It’s not as if Samus’ equipment is being damaged. Unlike most games, players control Samus from start to finish, often resulting in her final escape actually playing out in-game. There’s simply no room for a cutscene to break her equipment since the gameplay shows this isn’t the case. The only logical explanation is that Samus just isn’t considerate of her previous upgrades.
24 SUPERPOWER: Chozo DNA Flows Through Her
You might have missed this tidbit as it’s quite understated in the series itself, but Samus isn’t entirely human. Having been raised on Chozo to specifically become a Chozo Warrior, Samus was injected with Chozo DNA as a child. This augmented her abilities severely. While she’s still mostly human for the most part, she has biological advantages over other characters within the series as a means of explaining some of her more superhuman feats.
23 SUPERPOWER: Samus Can Jump Dozens Of Feet In The Air
Speaking of superhuman feats, Samus sure can jump pretty high can’t she? You might think that’s just because her adventures take her to planets with different gravitational pulls, but Chozo’s gravity is actually denser than Earth’s. Physically, Samus is just naturally capable of jumping incredibly high thanks to the environment she was raised on. If she ever visited Earth, she’d likely be capable of pulling off some rather impressive acrobatics.
22 WEAKNESS: Samus’ Best Abilities Are Locked Away
Oh Other M, what did you do to Samus? Arguably worse than Samus forgetting her equipment from game to game, Other M canonized that idea that Samus actually has most of her upgrades and abilities locked away by her commanding officer, Adam. Not only does this utterly tarnish the image of Adam the series had been building up for decades, it puts Samus at a disgusting disadvantage.
Thank you for making Samus terrible, Other M!
The bureaucracy of having her best skills locked away intentionally cripples Samus as a character in a means to “balance” her. The problem is that a bounty hunter like Samus doesn’t need “balancing” from a narrative standpoint. This is the series creator giving her a massive weakness for no reason other than to downplay how strong she actually is.
21 SUPERPOWER: The Zero Suit Isn't Just For Show
As aesthetically pleasing as Samus Zero Suit is, it’s not just there for visual flavor. Samus’ Zero Suit plays an incredibly specific purpose when it comes to Samus’ backup option. Should she ever lose her Power Suit for whatever reason, as seen in Zero Mission, she’d be able to rely on her Zero Suit.
Although lacking in defensive and offensive properties, Samus’ Zero Suit augments her natural acrobatic abilities. With the Zero Suit, Samus can move faster, crawl into tight spaces, and put her flexibility and natural talent to use. There’s a good reason she survives the end of ZM without her Power Suit and it’s thanks to the mobility the Zero Suit gives her.
20 SUPERPOWER: The Plasma Beam Will Cut Through Anything And Everything
Samus’ Plasma Beam might actually be the best feature her Arm Cannon is capable of. Not only can it pierce right through enemies and break down doors, Prime establishes that the Plasma Beam can also melt ice, implying there’s actually an intense amount of heat traveling with each beam.
Plasma: not even once.
You wouldn’t want to get hit by one of Samus’ attacks in general, but the Plasma Beam would probably be the worst to get attacked with. One minute you’d have a hole in your chest and the next you’d be melting.
19 WEAKNESS: Her Power Suit Doesn’t Actually Fit
Looking at concept art of Samus’ Power Suit brings with it an almost uncomfortable realization: her Power Suit doesn’t actually fit. To be specific, it’s the shoulder pauldrons that don’t exactly work with her physical body. They’re a bit too big and a bit too close to everything else in the suit itself. This means that, when Samus is wearing her suit, the pauldrons are either piercing into her shoulders or breaking them. That’s not exactly the prettiest image, is it?
18 SUPERPOWER: Samus Is A Genius
There’s nothing to indicate Samus is dumb, but she’s perhaps far more intelligent than you may have initially believed. The biggest hint towards her secret genius lies in the data entries one can find in Metroid Prime. In Prime, Samus can scan various enemies and objects to get a reading on them.
Since she’s all alone, however, the implication is that she’s doing quick research and actually compiling these logbook entries on her own. As Samus is a reliable narrator, we can take for a fact that all these entries are true, giving the impression that Samus must be incredibly smart to do all this research.
17 SUPERPOWER: The Morph Ball Makes Samus Very Hard To Hit
The Morph Ball is one of Samus’ best upgrades in the entire franchise, not only because it allows her to fit into spaces she otherwise wouldn’t be able to, but because it makes her an extremely difficult target to hit. In her ball form, Samus is able to shrink down to about 1/10 of her body’s mass, allowing her to avoid damage on the fly.
You can't hit what you can't see.
In the right setting, Samus can use her Morph Ball to flee from enemy encounters, outmaneuver bosses, or just dodge at the right time only to pop back up and offer a counterattack. We take for granted just how amazing the Morph Ball is since it’s mainly used for mobility purposes in-game, but it has a lot of combat potential too.
16 WEAKNESS: The Power Suit Makes Movement Incredibly Difficult
The Power Suit lives up to its namesake by making Samus all the more powerful, but it does bring with it a rather nasty drawback. While you’ll never personally feel the weight of it playing the games, Samus’ mobility is limited when wearing the Power Suit in-universe. She loses the ability to pull off many of her natural acrobatics and instead has to rely on upgrades to jump higher, pull off spins, and get through tight spaces. There are workarounds in place to ensure she never gets herself stuck, but the Power Suit is very much a suit armor first and foremost.
15 SUPERPOWER: Samus Has Super Strength
Even without her suit, Samus is quite the strong fighter. Honestly, given her DNA and background, it’s safe to say she’s developed some form of super strength from all her Chozo training. Just think about: Samus was injected with Chozo DNA and was basically raised to fulfill a spiritual Chozo prophecy. It’s only natural that, through the course of her training and augmentation, she end up far stronger than the average human. Considering how often she takes down enemies far larger than her, this should be considered the case until proven otherwise.
14 SUPERPOWER: Samus Is Theoretically Immune To Most Viruses
A human who was raised by Chozo who also has Chozo DNA flowing through her bloodstream, Samus probably isn’t one to get a cold. Disregarding whatever immunizations they must have in her future to prevent against disease, the mere fact Samus spends so much time on foreign planets without so much as contracting a virus is quite telling. It could be because of the universe she lives in or because of her unique biological makeup, but she’s unlikely to get sick. Especially after Fusion when she’s really only a quarter human.
13 WEAKNESS: Samus’ Cool Exterior Is Just For Show
Any big Metroid fan already knows that Samus’ cold front is really just for show. As seen in Metroid Fusion, one of the most internal journeys Samus has undergone, she’s ridden by guilt and constantly self reflects. At the same time, she never lets her emotions get the best of her. Or at least she didn’t used to.
Beneath the helmet of every hunter is a tale of tears.
Starting and ending with Other M, the series began to portray Samus as someone virtually incapable of rationalizing her feelings. She lacks almost all of the maturity she displayed in previous games and seems to be on the verge of a breakdown at all times. In this sense, her aloofness is absolutely a weakness. Thankfully, it seems as though this characterization is gone and done with.
12 SUPERPOWER: Samus Is A Metroid
The title Metroid doesn’t just refer to the titular beings Samus hunts down periodically. It also refers to Samus Aran herself. Not only does “Metroid” mean “Great Warrior” in the Chozo language, it’s also what Samus literally is by the end of Super Metroid. Upon the Baby’s demise, it ends up fusing its DNA unto Samus, allowing her to undergo a biological shift.
As is the case with her Chozo DNA, Samus’ Metroid DNA doesn’t change her physically, but does theoretically give her all the benefits Metroids have. Whatever they may actually be. On a thematic level, it’s also just a way of bringing the series full circle. Samus, the bounty hunter, has become what she’s hunted most. She is a Metroid in every sense of the word.
11 WEAKNESS: Her Maternal Instinct Can Be A Crutch
As previously mentioned, Samus isn’t totally emotionless. Rather, she simply keeps herself guarded. There are multiple moments across the series where Samus shows a vulnerable side. From a narrative perspective, this is absolutely a strength of Metroid’s story and characterization as it gives Samus depth. With depth comes weakness, however.
Motherhood's more dangerous than you'd think.
Samus has a naturally maternal instinct that, after spending an entire game hunting down Metroids, causes her to show mercy and spare a baby Metroid. Although this does come back to help her out in the long run, it very easily might not have. Metroids are dangerous and Samus allowed her feelings to keep one alive. It’s pure luck that it didn’t come back to bite her.
10 SUPERPOWER: Hand To Hand Combat Is Her Forte
If you’ve played Super Smash Bros. then you know that Samus is capable of packing quite the punch. She’s wearing a massive suit of armor, after all, so it’s only natural her hits hurt. If you’re not one who’s too keen on getting character information from a non-canon crossover, though, you’ll be glad to hear that this is a canonical feat of hers.
Starting with Samus Returns, the 3DS remake of the Game Boy’s Metroid II, Nintendo established Samus as a someone capable of countering enemies rather quickly. Not only are her reflexes faster than they’ve ever been depicted, this also lends credence to the idea that she’s an absolute powerhouse in a fist fight.
9 WEAKNESS: She Can’t Shoot Down
At times when it feels as if Samus can do just about anything, go back and play the 2D games in order to experience the sobering realization that Samus Aran cannot shoot down. That means exactly what you think it means: on the best of days, Samus will not be able to aim her arm cannon directly below her and fire at whatever’s underneath.
You never appreciate what you have until it's truly gone.
Rather, Samus has to position herself diagonally to get a clean shot. It’s really not all that cumbersome in-game, but it’s a massive in-universe oversight. It could simply be to avoid Samus blowing off her own feet, but what if she doesn’t have a means of adjusting her position? She’s just stuck not shooting down.
8 SUPERPOWER: Samus Is A Master Of Stealth
One of the best things Zero Mission ever did, besides remaking the original Metroid and improving upon it in every possible way imaginable, was solidifying Samus as one of the stealthiest characters in Nintendo’s roster, if not the stealthiest. Samus is capable of sneaking her way past some of the most terrifying enemies in uncharted territories simply by taking her time and examining her surroundings. Should she ever get caught, she’s also capable of making her trail disappear as if it were never there, something even the likes of Solid Snake struggles with.
7 SUPERPOWER: She’ll Grab You, Then Break You
If you’ve ever played Super Smash Bros. then you understand just how fearsome Samus can be with her Plasma Whip. Not only can she pull you from afar, she can lock you in place with in order to either continuously zap you with the whip’s energy on just lay down a barrage of punches and kicks onto you. The Plasma Whip can also serve as a quick way to regain mobility, giving Samus a second chance should she ever find herself plummeting to her doom.
6 WEAKNESS: Her Visor Restricts Her Vision
No Power Suit is going to be perfect and Samus’ visor proves that. As much as it does for her scouting abilities, providing her with a useful hud and what appears to be instantaneous data analysis, her visor also clearly restricts her vision, putting her at an inherent disadvantage.
You know what's better than a hud? Seeing.
While she has more access to her peripherals than she would in an otherwise normal helmet, Samus’ head doesn’t really have the mobility it needs to help her avoid her blind spots when locked into place. Granted, this just means she needs to rely on her other senses, but free form vision is definitely one of the most important sense at her disposal.
5 SUPERPOWER: Samus Knows How To Hunt
If for whatever reason you end up on Samus’ hit list, just turn yourself in. You’re not getting out of this one unscratched. It perhaps goes without saying, but, as a bounty hunter, Samus knows how to hunt for prey. Metroid Prime Hunters is basically all about Samus facing off against other hunters in a hunt or be hunted gauntlet.
This is the woman who hunted down nearly every single living Metroid in order to genocide the race, and she would have gotten away with it too had her maternal instincts not kicked in. In the rare instance where the tables are turned on her in Fusion, she’s able to use all her hunting skills against SA-X to stay alive and later get her revenge.
4 SUPERPOWER: Samus Can Improvise
Improvisation may not seem like the most useful skill, but it’s worked in Samus’ favor time and time again. Case in point: Zero Mission. After Samus loses her Power Suit at the end of the game, she manages to stealth her way out of harm with just her Zero Suit and pistol. It helps that she’s great at stealth and has a piece of gear under her Power Suit, but it’s more than just that.
A strategist and a tactician: Samus can do it all.
Samus had a plan in mind and her course was rerouted at the last minute. She succeeded in her mission only to find herself in critical danger at the absolute worst moment. Rather than panicking, she uses everything at her disposal to improvise a means of survival. She had no intel whatsoever. Her instincts and quick thinking kept her alive.
3 WEAKNESS: She’s An Easy Target
A warrior modeled after a Chozo prophecy who has both worked directly under the Federation and independently as a bounty hunter, it’s only natural that Samus garner quite the reputation over the course of the series. Being a celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, though. Through Samus’ travels, she’s made herself quite the easy target.
As far as characters go, Samus isn’t exactly unpredictable. You can bait her quite easily by tossing a Metroid out in the wild or involving the Chozo in some way. It’s easier to trick Samus into an unsavory situation than, say, Link or Mario. For as stoic as she is, she wears her motivations on her sleeve. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to hit Samus where it hurts.
2 SUPERPOWER: Samus Is The Strongest Nintendo Main Character
Nintendo’s protagonists are far from weak. Whether it be in a platformer or RPG, Mario consistently faces any and all opposition with a smile; Link is able to fight back every incarnation of Demise thanks to his immense courage; and Star Fox has saved the galaxy time and time again. As impressive as their feats are, they don’t hold a candle to Samus Aran.
Eat your heart out, Kirby.
Super strong, super fast, and with a truly ferocious armory, Samus is prepared for any and every situation. This is the woman who was able to take down Mother Brain on her own while also slaying hunters upon hunters intent on taking her on her life. Samus has proven capable of taking up any challenge without so much as breaking a sweat. She rarely, if ever, comes close to losing. Samus is easily Nintendo’s strongest protagonist.
1 WEAKNESS: Samus Has Way Too Many Enemies For Her Own Good
You know what they say: keep your friends close and enemies closer. Too bad for Samus that she doesn’t have any friends. She sure does have a whole lot of enemies though! Between the 2D games and the Prime sub-series, Samus has a roster of nearly a dozen villains ready to come back at any time and lay down the law. That’s just from what we’ve seen too.
Do remember that Samus is a bounty hunter and has been for some time. It’s totally possible that she’s made even more enemies off screen just ready to take their revenge at any moment. It’s unlikely that a random space pirate would do Samus in, but she’s not exactly in the safest of places by the end of Fusion, the last chronological game in the series. Time will tell how she adjusts to a universe filled with opposition.