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The 10 Most Iconic Archetypes in Fire Emblem

Every hero has an origin.



Fire Emblem’s Best Archetypes…

When a franchise has been around for over 30 years, certain aspects of the games become tradition. In the case of Fire Emblem, even its characters follow a pattern throughout the series. Friends and foes that serve the same purpose as a previous character, either in the story or gameplay, are referred to as archetypes. Most characters that began common archetypes originated in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, and have been staples of the series ever since. Though there are many archetypes that have been featured in multiple games, there are some that are more memorable than others and are responsible for making each game truly feel like a Fire Emblem game.

Official art of Lena from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem.

10. Lena

Lena is an early healer introduced in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light after she had been captured by thieves. Once she was saved, she joined Marth’s army as one of the primary healers. Others of her archetype share the same predicament at the beginning of the game, and once they are rescued, they are usually the first healer the player recruits. Healers are essential to the Fire Emblem series, so the Lena is important to the early game. They either grow to be the best healer in the game, or they are replaced by the later acquired Maria archetype.

Official art of Gharnef from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.

9. Gharnef

While not the final boss, a Gharnef is a memorable villain with a strong connection to their game’s main antagonist. Gharnefs are loyal to the antagonist, sometimes even going so far as to worship them. Because of their faith, Gharnefs spend the entirety of the game assisting the main villain and causing chaos. They accomplish this primarily through the use of dark magic. They are sometimes willing to die for the main antagonist to achieve their goals; they are always defeated right before the final battle.

Art of Merric and Linde from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.

8. Merric and Linde

A Merric is a male mage that joins the player’s side early on in the game, sometimes as the first playable magic user. They are specialists in wind magic with high speed. However, they do not learn magic on their own; Merrics always have a teacher in magic that they owe all of their skills to. Their personalities vary from game to game, but the source of their magic is always consistent. The many Merrics may not have many similarities between each other, but they are usually fondly remembered as the first mage the player acquires.

Related to Merrics are Lindes, named after the mage from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. A Linde is a female mage who is recruited around the same time as the Merric of her game, but unlike him, she focuses on either light or fire magic. Oftentimes they are much stronger than Merrics. Also similarly to Merrics, Lindes do not have a set personality for their archetype. However, they are known to have lost someone they loved before the game begins, or sometimes during it. Their tragic backstory sometimes makes them even more memorable than the game’s Merric.

Official artwork of Navarre from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.

7. Navarre

Navarres are always sword wielders and are usually enemies at first, at least until the player speaks to them and convinces them to join their army. They are always serious and stoic, but have strong morals despite their occupation. Their wandering nature means that they typically take on odd jobs that involve fighting and honing their skills. Though they enjoy battle, they stay true to their morality and refuse to do certain things such as Navarre’s refusal to harm women or children. This does not affect their strength in battle, however; Navarres are famous for being very good with their swords, sometimes even comparable to the main character.

Official art of Malledus.

6. Malledus

Malledus is the only character on this list that is neither playable nor an enemy. Instead, Malledus is an NPC tactician that assists Marth in creating strategies, until he is replaced by Jagen in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. Though he does not participate in battles, he is quite important for starting Fire Emblem’s trend of tacticians throughout the series. Malleduses are responsible for guiding the army from the sidelines, though some assist from the battlefield. Whether they fight or not, Malleduses provide direction for the game and are responsible for creating the strategies that lead the player’s army to victory. Recently, this archetype has become so important that sometimes the Malledus of the game is also the protagonist.

Official art of Minerva from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. - Fire Emblem archetypes

5. Minerva

Minerva, the wyvern riding princess of Macedon, is the basis for an archetype of wyvern riders. This archetype is recognizable by their red or black armor, and of course their choice of transportation. Like Navarres, Minervas are first encountered as enemies before they are persuaded to join the protagonist’s side. When they join the player, however, they are abandoning either their country or their family. This adds an extra layer of depth to their character, and shows that they value the good of the world over their own personal bonds. They introduce an interesting dynamic to the main party, as characters that have seen the opposite side of the war and that have left loved ones behind.

Official art of Camus from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. - Fire Emblem archetypes

4. Camus

A Camus is essentially the opposite of a Minerva. While Minerva abandoned her nation for the greater good, Camus remained loyal to his country despite knowing that his king was in the wrong. A Camus values loyalty above all else and will never turn against their country or ruler, even when it means they must fight for an unjust cause. Despite being on the wrong side of the war, a Camus is kind to their men and even towards their enemies. If not for their sense of loyalty and their eventual deaths at the hands of the player’s army, they would make excellent allies.

Art of Cain and Abel from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. - Fire Emblem archetypes

3. Cain and Abel

Some archetypes require two people, such as Cain and Abel. These two are always recognizable by their red and green clothing, with the Cain typically wearing red and being the more hot-headed of the two while the Abel wears green and is the calm one. The two are always very close, and likely have been friends for a long time. Because of their close bond, they always have the same class and join the protagonist at the same time. However, their stats are different. The Cain is most often the stronger of the two while the Abel relies more on speed. This archetype is the easiest to spot in a Fire Emblem game, and one of the most memorable.

Official art of the Whitewings from Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. - Fire Emblem archetypes

2. The Whitewings and Est

The Whitewings, like the Cain and Abel archetype, require more than one person. However, the Whitewings involve three people, not two. This archetype is based off of the pegasus knight sisters Palla, Catria, and Est who are able to use something called a Triangle Attack; if all three surround an enemy, they can deal a large amount of damage. Because they work together as a team, most examples of this archetype are either sisters or close friends. The eldest is always the kindest, the middle pegasus knight is the most goal-oriented, and the youngest is the most reckless. This trio of flying units is almost always exactly like the source of their inspiration, making them one of the most consistent archetypes.

The youngest of the Whitewings, Est, also spawned her own archetype separate from her sisters. Characters like her join very late in the game and are quite weak compared to the army the protagonist has amassed already. However, if enough effort is put into leveling them up, they turn out to be very powerful. It is hard to level them up since they join at a point in the game where most enemies are stronger than them, but it is worth the extra work. This archetype is also extremely consistent, always appearing as a useful ally if enough care is put into them.

Art of Jagen and Oifey from Mystery of the Emblem and Genealogy of the Holy War. - Fire Emblem archetypes

1. Jagen and Oifey

A Jagen, named after Marth’s guardian, is a very common archetype in Fire Emblem. The original Jagen was a paladin with high stats that accompanied Marth from the beginning of his adventure, serving as somewhat of a crutch character until the other units became strong enough. Since his inclusion, many other characters that fulfill the same role have been added to other games. Jagens are always the strongest unit at the very beginning of the game, then lose their usefulness once other characters surpass them. Despite their lack of usefulness halfway into the game, they are usually guardians of the protagonist who is likely much stronger than them, like Jagen and Marth’s relationship. They almost always share a close bond with the main character.

The Jagen archetype spawned another archetype, that of the Oifey. Oifey is a character from Genealogy of the Holy War that serves a similar purpose to Jagen, except his stats are only slightly above average. Oifeys are still quite useful in the beginning of the game, but unlike Jagens whose use runs out, Oifeys are capable of keeping up with other units. Both the Jagen and Oifey are a crucial part of Fire Emblem; it would be nearly impossible to complete certain games on higher difficulties without them.

As an aspiring creative writer and artist, I dedicate most of my free time to drawing or creating ideas for video games. When I am not working on my creative pursuits, I am usually playing Fire Emblem, The Legend of Zelda, or Genshin Impact.