Palutena is the godess of light and the patron deity to Pit. She plays a pretty interesting role in the Kid Icarus series, especially as of late. She didn't really have a ton to her character in the original titles, being simply the dasmel in distress in the original NES and Gameboy titles. However, when the series saw a reworking in Brawl and was then followed up with Uprising, which serves as a revival and partial reboot, she was given a lot more personality and a new role as a advisor to Pit. She can really hold her own now!
Kid Icarus Uprising is a interesting game as it deals very much in the domain of gods and what they treasure and protect. Palutena is the goddess of light and finds herself very protective of humans, which most gods are unconcerned with. It's not because she finds them perfect or beyond reproach- in fact, their flawed nature is what Palutena sees in all gods, except perhaps herself to an extent. Textually, however, the game makes it apparent that Palutena isn't actually above reproach either, nor is particularly flawless despite what she would rather have Pit- and the player- believe. It's this blindness to herself that makes her so interesting to me, and I'll be going over the darker facets of the character in it's own section.
I'll be additionally going over some other interesting tidbits about the character and some ships and how I feel about them, since ultimately, this is still part of the Headcanons section of the site.
From Chapter 9 - Medusa's Final Battle:
Medusa: I find it very ironic that you would call yourself the goddess of light. After all, it was you who turned me into a monster. It was you who hunted me down.
Palutena: You shouldn't blame me for that. I only reflected in your appearance what I saw in your heart.
Medusa: And what about YOUR heart? I can only imagine what resides there.
Palutena: Why just imagine it? Don't you have the power to make it a reality?
Medusa: There's no point. We all know it would be some sort of hideous creature.
So... am I the only one that has really taken a deep thought to these lines? I encountered this in the game back around it's release and it's kind of stuck in my craw since then. It gets immediately interrupted by Pit talking up about how great Palutena is, but any further conversation is distracted by the foreshadowing that Medusa isn't really doing this whole invasion of her own accord and is suffering from memory loss.
To provide some additional needed context, Medusa isn't her analog to the Greek mythos in the Kid Icarus universe- in fact, she was a co-ruler of Skyworld with Palutena as told in the game and in the anime short Medusa's Revenge
. They likely had equal power over each other in the first game as that anime short is a spirtual retelling of that first game's story to a extent. From the sounds of Palutena, she still might have that same equal power. The contention was Medusa not caring about humans, attacking them and unleashing plagues and famines upon them.
What makes this conversation even more interesting is that Palutena doesn't even fire back. She knows that she isn't pure. There is something under the surface she isn't willing to address, and given how familiar Medusa and Palutena must be with each other at this point, I don't think it's some sort of pithy throw-away line. Especially if it's at the front of Medusa's memories which are mostly scattershot at this point.
From Chapter 2 - Magnus and the Dark Lord:
Magnus: Hey, if you're chatting with your precious goddess, give her a message from me. Tell her she's been sleeping on the job! My world is on the edge of collapse!
Palutena: I take it back. This guy's a jerk.
These lines really puts into question just how much Palutena is willing to put into serving humanity. Especially as we get later into the game, Palutena strengthens her army under the influence of the Chaos Kin, which we will get to later. However, it's really dismissive of one of the few actual mortal human characters in the game. For someone who claims to want to protect humans, Palutena not only seems to do a bad job at it but also isn't really that cordial with the people she's claiming to want to protect in a world filled with gods and goddesses that either actively dislike their wellbeing or don't care for them. Is it all a ploy so Palutena can act through Pit to constantly get into other gods' ways and dismantle their systems and structures? It's all... very, very curious.
Speaking of curious...
Despite her reputation for wisdom and mercy, little is known about the history and motivations behind the goddess Palutena. What she lacks in military might, she makes up for in her brave champion, Pit.
What does this mean. Like it's one thing to say that her history is unknown, but her motivations? Those aren't really presented as a mystery in the game. In fact, on the surface, it feels like Palutena is supposed to be the only deity that really cares for humanity and understands their nature compared to gods. Yet, there is a missing bit that would explain why she decided to designate herself as a savior for humanity- and one that doesn't seem to communicate with humanity all that often.
There's something to Palutena's knowledge which is that it borders on omniscent and yet has it's blindspots. I simply think Palutena may be operating on a higher level than any of the other gods in terms of intelligence. Which sounds kind of absurd given there's a lot of moments in the game where she's taken aback by new information or the entire Wish Seed story- but it'd be hard to overlook this particular little bit and some of the other stuff hinted about her over the entire game.
Ultimately, there is something both very vindicating and frustrating about the Chaos Kin arc- it presents a really interesting opportunity for there to be some payoff to all this hinting, all these gnarled roots of her character to culminate into an arc that can finally re-establish what goals Pit and Palutena have and why they have them. See, the Chaos Kin is depicted as sort of just a creature with no higher motivations behyond causing chaos.
Chaos Kin Idol Description:
An evil being whose strange power may even surpass that of the gods. It is mindless, only possessing the desire to cause disorder and disaster. Long sealed in the Lunar Sanctum, the Chaos Kin is suddenly free to spread anarchy.
Chaos Kin and Palutena Idol Description:
The Chaos Kin binds Palutena to its will, manipulating her form like a foul puppet. By doing so, the Chaos Kin simultaneously shields itself and forces Pit to attack the very goddess he serves.
Chaos Kin Ash Idol Description:
The Chaos Kin's unfathomable magic allows it to survive even being burned to ash. In this state, only possessing Dark Pit could restore it to its full power. But Pit's selfless rescue banishes the evil creature into the Chaos Vortex.
The Chaos Kin is both mindless and yet has the will to puppet Palutena and pull off everything it does in the three years and it doesn't... really say that much about Palutena's character in the long run of things. It's weirdly disappointing in it's own respect because there isn't a deeper unsettling relevation about Palutena that you can truly extralopate. There's also not much followup from the arc as it immediately gets more into the endgame against stopping Hades, so we only really have a couple more lines to really pull from.
From Chapter 20 - Palutena's Temple:
Palutena: Now how did you make it through that barrier? It seems you're not the helpless, sniveling little thing you were before.
Pit: You have to stop attacking the humans!
Palutena: No, Pit. Don't you see? This is my atonement for my greatest sin. I let the people grow arrogant and betray the heavenly order.
Viridi: Oh, jeez. You're just figuring that out now?
Pit: You're not yourself! The Lady Palutena I know would never say something like that!
Palutena: Please. Angels cannot truly know gods.
There's just something about the fact the Chaos Kin is controlling her and yet is described as mindless that makes this particular conversation feel a little hollow, even though it should be very interesting and saying something more about Pit and Palutena. Yet it's not really addressed in game after this point- the whole arc isn't. It would have been nice to have a small tidbit about Pit being worried about the damage he and Palutena caused under the power of the ring, but it's not addresssed and kind of makes the game feel a little hollow at the end beyond how it address Viridi. There's not always going to be a clean cut to this kind of massive undertaking, but it would have been interesting to see confirmation that the Chaos Kin was bringing out real feelings Palutena has and warping them to be placed up at the front... but alas.
Overall, it's something I'd like to see expanded in a sequel if we ever get one. There are a lot of fascinating little mysteries in Kid Icarus Uprising that never get a clear resolution, but this thread easily intrigues me the most. Palutena has to put on this air she's above everyone else because she's the only one that cares about the humans, but she never tells Pit a clear reason why beyond seeing the gods as just as flawed. If that led into a strategy for power or was linked to some other personal reason, I think it could be grounds to have Pit be disillusioned with her and making more of his own decisions, which was reflected in Dark Pit as well. In any case though, it's never been a super-talked about aspect of her character and I think it would be good ground to explore either in canon or fanon for that matter.
I think I would be doing a massive disservice to a page about Palutena if I didn't talk about shippings. As far as I know there isn't like a super huge Kid Icarus fandom out there in the wings, so I don't think there's any really big swing to one shipping or the other beyond what the game hints. I like the idea of shipping but unlike most people who do ship, I don't really have true pairings or the like, so I feel like I can kind of come at it from a less-biased perspective and since there isn't a ton of fandom shipping content, that won't be really a factor in the ranking. Without further ado...
PALUTENA X PIT
So this one is kind of popular and I kind of understand why- he's very loyal, the original game had a kiss between the two, Uprising does a couple teases at this, but I kind of ultimately feel like it's kind of meant to be something that was supposed to peter out as Pit kind of finds that Palutena isn't the person he built her up to be, that once Pit starts to treat her less like the object of desire and more of a person they still have a close bond but it's closer to friendship than anything else. Thinking of Princess Bubblegum and Finn from Adventure Time in a sense- they always had a very similar vibe to me.
I think the main reason you tend to see people ship it is because it's the easiest one, it's straight (hetreo) and forward and it's basic. You already know why Pit likes her and the dynamic of their relationship is enjoyable but not on a romantic sense. Even ignoring the kind of implied massive age gap between them (they're gods, they kind of don't really have the sense of age or time we do) it's just more interesting as a friendship than anything else. Not to mention that there is sort of a power imbalance between the two. It's fine if you don't think too hard about it but I'll be skipping over Dark Pit and Viridi because they kind of have the same issues, but it would be more of a disservice to exclude this from the conversation I think.
PALUTENA X MEDUSA
Palutena and Medusa are easily the ship I can get most behind with all the canon characters in mind. Their past together as goddesses working together until spurned makes for a very interesting lovers to enemies (back to lovers?) dynamic, although it'd have to be a slow burn as Medusa kind of refinds herself. The end of the game can give you a lot of good fuel for this as Medusa sacrifices herself and has missing memories to deal with and finding herself through Palutena and going through ups and downs in the relationship again would be a great place to start for any fanfiction, or even the premise of the next game, honestly.
The big reason this one works the best for me is because simply put, it has enough complications to be interesting but Palutena still feels guilt and unresolve regarding Medusa in the canon as well. This is a relationship with a lot of angst and baggage and I find those work the best because not only do they have to earn it from an audience perspective but they also have to earn that kind of second chance to each other as well. There's good material to work with and it isn't dragged down with needing to ignore aspects about how these two relate to each other. They were on equal footing a long time ago and bringing them back together mends something from before.
PALUTENA X HADES
This one requires some legwork. I think there is some okay chemistery given both of these kind of flirt with everyone they're around, but I think truthfully Palutena is more annoyed with Hades and his antics than anything else and while death means zilch in this world, they're at war with each other. I think it requires introspection on Hades' part to really change in a meaningful fashion to get this ship moving and I'd like to see that to some extent, but only in a wifeguy kind of way. Palutena's so far above Hades in a lot of ways that I think he'd have to do some changing as a person to really get her romantic attention and not usual dismissal. Even then, it's kind of up in the air, really.
Hades is kind of one of those characters that like is really fun to write with and work with, but I think you'd have to get more history on him before he just stops feeling like such a bully to everyone around him. The game never really puts in the work, and I'm not saying it SHOULD, but I think if I were to know more about Hades' backstory I'd be more keen on this idea. He just has such a blantant disregard for life and people around him that it really comes off like he'd just discard Palutena and put her through the same stuff Medusa does once he gets bored of her.
PALUTENA X PHOSPHORA
Phosphora doesn't get a ton of time in Uprising to really be as defined of a character as some of the others, but their interactions are pretty fun in the Lightning Battle chapter. Phosphora knows how to press her buttons in a way that not anyone else can and it's pretty easy to see how it could get a bit more passionate. There's a lot more chemistry directed towards Pit from Phosphora, but Palutena seems to kind of acknowledge this and is very plain with him, kind of in a very assertive way to keep him focused. I imagine Phosphora kind of has a rebellious attitude that could be quelmed by Palutena over time, but ocasionally indulges in making her act out more because she likes it.
Phosphora also seems to be a bit younger than Palutena given the "ma'am" conversation, but maybe she only really picked that up because that's what stuck out to her with her relationship to Pit. I think Phosphora probably wants someone she can kind of domineer over and Palutena isn't really that kind of person, but it's easy to see them ocasionally indulging in some sapphic one-offs. I don't think it could really stick unless Phosphora undergoes maybe some growth or Palutena regresses a little and becomes even more playful, which... kind of happens in Smash 4 and Ultimate? So. Hm.
PALUTENA X BAYONETTA
This one is just classic. Light vs dark, two very playful female characters that intially oppose each other eventually falling for each other for reasons they keep hidden away from even themselves because it's so taboo to say "I love you" to someone like her. They're about equal on power level, yet one will always get their way one way or the other. I wouldn't really say this one has a lot of support from canon material, but the narrative of Smash is so abstract that honestly you kind of have to indulge in your own headcanons regarding these two anyway. These two have to earn respect from each other and it slaps conceptually.
They just kind of energize each other in a way I don't think anyone else on this list really does. Palutena indulges in being sort of a straight man to a lot of different comedic foils but she has her playful side too and I feel like Bayonetta pulls that side of her a lot more often when they're together. As like the first Smash-related shipping on this chart, it's not something you'll really see a lot of ficwork of but it is something you tend to see in fanart more, esepcially from people like kianamai or Denassey. They're cute and hot together and they are fun together too, which isn't really something you see in a shipping unless it kind of inspires that kind of passion.
PALUTENA X SAMUS
I don't think Palutena is very comfortable around mortal beings. She can understand them to a certain extent but the minute they begin talking about how bad of a job she's been doing, she stops listening. I don't think Samus really falls under any religionous organization's grasp and she's very powerful, although certainally not anywhere near the patheon of gods and goddesses of the Uprising world. Yet I think it's their mututal themes of motherhood and protection that kind of draw them together. Palutena is the less serious of the two and certainally more social, but Samus kind of feels like a secure girlfriend that could reliably come to her aid at a moment's notice.
This is a shipping I like because you don't really see Palutena being the more goofy of the two, yet Samus is pretty darn serious about herself, as she should be. She grapples with trauma and some other pretty dark subjects all the time and I like that they kind of inadvertedly create sort of a inverse balance of how Palutena usually acts. Palutena is usually the serious one, but Samus is so self-serious that she feels like she has to go to task of lightening the mood. It's not the strongest ship on this section but it's remarkably straight forward and their personalities clash well but also mesh in their similarities.
not so perfect finished for now. fiends cauldron opened with six entries.
added to not so perfect.
basic skeleton up. not so perfect started.