The road to representation in Fire Emblem has been a long one, but one that has opened the door for more depictions of queerness in the series.
With 16 games reaching all the way back to 1990, the Fire Emblem series is one with plenty of history — and countless characters to go with it. From royals to common folk to everyone in between, characters from the Fire Emblem franchise come from all walks of life and make for a very diverse collection of personalities.
As the series evolved from the NES to games on the Nintendo Switch, the stories — and the characters within them — developed over time as well. From ambiguous endings that fans have interpreted as queer romances to canonically queer characters and romantic options, the road to representation in Fire Emblem has been a long one, but ultimately one that has brought fans many beloved characters and opened the door for more depictions of queerness in the series.
Prior to canon same-sex romances in games like Fire Emblem: Fates and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, any mention of characters being queer were either lost in translation or left ambiguous for fans to theorize and interpret in various ways. Archival projects like the LGBTQ Video Game Archive document Fire Emblem fans’ interpretations and discussions of characters’ gender identities and sexualities.
Paired character endings featuring two characters of the same gender have long been a topic of discussion among Fire Emblem fans, with some interpretations being romantic in nature. Some paired endings that have been interpreted as romantic include Florina/Lyn and Raven/Lucius in 2003’s The Blazing Blade and Joshua/Gerik in 2004’s The Sacred Stones. Depending on player choices, other endings for these characters could involve spouses and children, suggesting that they could be bisexual.
The Tellius games, 2005’s Path of Radiance and 2007’s Radiant Dawn, introduced several characters with queer identities, though many references to such have been removed in English versions. Heather, introduced in Radiant Dawn, flirts with other female characters and seemingly has no interest in men. Kyza is a character who uses feminine pronouns in Japanese versions of the game, leading to discussions about their gender. While this was not addressed in the English version of Radiant Dawn, Kyza would later be addressed with they/them pronouns in Fire Emblem: Heroes.
Ike’s sexuality in the Tellius games has also been a topic of discussion, garnering its own pages on the LGBTQ Video Game Archive. Ike only has two paired endings in Radiant Dawn, where he journeys to “lands unknown.” If he reaches A-support with Soren or Ranulf, their endings change to note that they also leave to go on a journey, with Soren’s ending naming Ike as “the only person he had ever trusted.” However, with the introduction of Priam in 2012’s Fire Emblem: Awakening as Ike’s descendant, it’s difficult to know for certain.
While Awakening made several references to characters being queer, the game does not offer any non-heterosexual romance options within its cast. However, one character reappears in a later Fire Emblem title as a potential romantic option for both male and female player avatars.
The 2015 game Fire Emblem: Fates marked the first time players could pursue a romantic relationship with a character of the same sex, albeit with extremely limited options. It’s worth noting that Rhajat, the only female romance option available for female Corrin, shares many traits with Tharja from Awakening. Aside from the clear physical resemblance, both have a strong obsession for the player character regardless of gender, excel in dark magic, and can come off as cold. Meanwhile, Niles — the only male romance option available for male Corrin and one of the few bisexual characters in the game — is characterized as sadistic and overly flirtatious on the surface.
However, like Awakening before it, Fates featured second-generation child characters who were only available by pairing characters together. Choosing to S-support Niles or Rhajat meant locking players out of receiving potentially powerful child units — players would lose out on the opportunity to get Kana, Corrin’s child, and romancing Niles specifically meant players would lose out on two child units as they would also be barred from getting Niles’ daughter, Nina.
Following Fates was a remake of the 1992 game Fire Emblem Gaiden — 2015’s Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Echoes featured mostly the same cast of characters but with unique, updated designs and more development through character supports. Among the cast of Echoes, Leon stands out for his affection for another male character, Valbar.
While ultimately, Leon’s feelings were unrequited, he’s very open about his sexuality, to the point where his support conversations with Kamui have him describing his “ideal man.” With a feminine appearance, a personality described as “narcissistic” in Heroes, and usage of feminine pronouns in the Japanese version of the game, Leon’s characterization may bring to mind stereotypes about gay men. However, he is not used as comic relief at all during Echoes and is treated with the same amount of respect as other characters.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the most recent core game in the series, introduces several characters with same-sex romance options, including House Leader and protagonist Edelgard. Players who choose female Byleth can reach S-support with five characters: other than Edelgard, players can S-support Dorothea, Mercedes, Rhea, and Sothis.
The options for a gay relationship were extremely limited at launch, however. Out of the three male S-supports available for male Byleth at launch, only Linhardt’s were romantic, with Alois and Gilbert’s S-supports being platonic relationships. Later updates and the Ashen Wolves DLC would introduce Jeritza and Yuri as potential partners for male Byleth. Three Houses‘ deeper and more nuanced character writing keeps the characters from feeling like stereotypes.
Most recently, Fire Emblem: Heroes introduced Limstella from Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade to its roster. Voiced by non-binary voice actor Casey Mongillo, Limstella is referred to using they/them pronouns. While Limstella is a special case in that they are a genderless, created being, the inclusion of more non-binary characters in Heroes serves as representation for those who use they/them pronouns and could open the door for characters with other gender identities in future titles.
Ultimately, the Fire Emblem series’ depiction of queer characters isn’t perfect. Older games kept the relationships between characters of the same gender largely ambiguous or wrote out the queer identities, while other games’ characterizations brought stereotypical depictions of queer people to mind. However, the franchise has grown in how it represents its characters — and with deeper, more complex stories and opportunities for development come deeper and more complex characters as well.
The series has changed in many ways since 1990 — including how it handles queer representation. With leaks for the next Fire Emblem game teasing a new cast of characters and potentially bringing back past favorites, fans can look forward to seeing how queer representation continues to change in the future.