From Zelda Legends Wiki
The fairies have appeared in every Zelda game thus far. They either appear as characters or health pick-ups that restore more hearts than normal recovery hearts. Two of Link's companions are fairies, Navi and Tatl.
The Legend of Zelda
In the first game, fairies appear as health pick-ups that are randomly dropped by enemies. They restore more life than hearts, but are rarer. There are also certain Fairy Fountains that restore all of Link's health.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
In this game, fairies are not dropped by enemies, but are found in certain locations on the overworld map. Link can also use the Fairy Spell to transform into a fairy to fly and bypass locks in palaces.
A Link to the Past
The series' third installment introduces empty bottles, which can be used to store fairies for later. If Link dies, the fairy will come out of the bottle and revive him. ALttP also include Great Fairies which grant power-ups and expansions.
The fairies in Link's Awakening are simialr to those of the first game in that they are dropped by enemies and restore more life than normal hearts.
Ocarina of Time
In Ocarina of Time, fairies are stored in bottles and restore all of Link's life. Link's fairy Navi is used to target enemies and give hints.
Fairies operate the same way they did in OoT, but only restore 10 hearts. This game also establishes the distinction between male and female fairies. Females are white or pink, while males are purple. Additionally, there are stray fairies in each dungeon that are fragments of a Great Fairy.
Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons
Fairies operate the smae way they did in LA.
In this game, Great Fairies award ranks to each player at the end of a dungeon.
Fairies operate the smae way they did in OoT. Their bodies are visible, however, not covered by a brilliant light like in the N64 games.
Four Swords Adventures"Force Fairies" are pick-ups found in each level that revive players after death. There is a maximum of 99 Force Fairies.
The Minish Cap
In TMC, fairies can be caught in bottles, but only restore 4 hearts after Link's death, making them less efficient and increasing the challenge of the game.