The Legend Of Zelda is known as a series ripe with exploration, fantastic music, great puzzles, and interesting gameplay mechanics. Yet, one thing it doesn't get enough credit for is its ability to make players feel uneasy. Underneath its often bright, cartoonish skin, there are some downright creepy moments in the franchise. Sure, in some games, there is more of an emphasis on the darker side of Hyrule, but even in the happiest-looking games, there are some dark undertones.
We're sure we will see this in spades when the sequel to Breath of The Wild launches, but until that time comes, we want to highlight the darkest moments in The Legend of Zelda series.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker will go down as one of the cutest games in the franchise. Yet, beneath its cell shaded cartoon aesthetic lies the potential for some seriously dark moments. Nintendo really took advantage of that when players were introduced to Greatfish Isle. After sailing the now-flooded Hyrule, Link happens upon a completely destroyed island.
There are no signs of life, the island is destroyed, and after only seeing bright and colorful lands with diverse inhabitants, it's shocking to dock here. We learn later that before the flood, this land was once Lake Hylia, and after the flood, many Hyrulians lived prosperous lives there. Unfortunately, Ganondorf destroyed all of that.
Ocarina of Time is rated E for everyone in North America, but sometimes, we question how that happened as it gets pretty messed up. Yet, it really worked well to drive home the severity of Ganondorf's return. One such instance is when players finally get their hand on the Master Sword, jump years into the future and leave the Temple of Time.
Upon opening the door, and walking out into the once-bustling Hyrule Castle Town, players see an area completely ruined with Ganon's castle hovering in the background. After taking a few steps out of the courtyard, we find Redeads wandering the marketplace, and that's when fans hear that iconic scream that stops Link in his tracks.
When Link is looking for shards of a mirror in Twilight Princess, he finds a family of yetis living in a mansion atop a snowy mountain. He's lead on a fetch-quest around the house as he tries to find a key to open the door where the actual mirror piece is sitting, and once he finally does... bad things happen.
The female yeti, Yeta, leads Link into the room and gazes upon the mirror-piece, and things go sideways. She turns around and the once adorable snow-person is an evil, red-eyed vampire who will kill you to keep the shard. This turn was completely unexpected, unsettling, and downright scary. It's an example of horror done right.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is full of dark moments, but there is none more personal to the audience than learning of the Hero's Spirit. Throughout the game, players learn Hidden Skills for Link to use throughout his adventure. To do so, gamers must turn into wolf-form, find a specific plant and howl. This will give the player an indication of where to go to speak with the decrepit, decomposing, skeleton — the Hero's Spirit.
Then, we learn he's the embodiment of the regrets of the Hero Of Time — the character players adored in two Zelda games. It turns out that even after saving Hyrule and Termina, he regrets not passing down his knowledge to another hero, and that's haunted him years after his death.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild doesn't tell us a lot by itself. Instead, players learn almost everything from interacting with the world. For the most part, the game is pretty upbeat for something that takes place in a post-calamity world. Yet, when walking through the cemetery in Kakoriko Village, players bump into a child named Koko.
When talking to her, we learn that her father has not told her that her mother has died, so she comes by every morning to grieve, missing her, trying to stay strong. This scene is so genuinely heartbreaking and its something that the series has never really topped when it comes to an NPC's backstory. Still, even though it's touching, the story is very dark.
The Happy Mask Salesman was an adorable shopkeep in Ocarina of Time, but when we meet him in Majora's Mask he's a little stressed out. It turns out, while he was traversing Termina, Skull Kid stole Majora's Mask from him. While the situation is dire, if Link can get it back, things can be saved.
When he does not present the mask, the Salesman starts shaking Link while creepy music plays in the background and the camera shakes while he screams, "what have you done to me?"
When Link is given a little Hyrule history lesson, things get really creepy. The Goddesses created the sacred realm, but when word got out about this new world, people began to turn on each other.
To visualize this, we see Link alongside Ilia, who pulls a knife on the hero. Somehow, she drops it, but when the camera pans to Link, his pupils are gone and he's surrounded by Shadow-Links. The whole scene is unsettling, and it feels like it was made more to make the player uncomfortable than to give players a real history lesson.
We don't know why Ghirahim broke the fourth wall to wiggle his tongue at the camera, but we didn't like it when he did. While giving a monologue, the main antagonist of Skyward Sword teleports around the room, at one point appearing directly behind Link with his hands on his shoulders. He then tells Link he will make the hero's ears bleed with the sounds of Zelda's screams.
For a game that, on the surface, looks cute and fun, that scene took a weird turn down a dark alley and the following boss battle felt really uncomfortable because of it.
Remember that scene in Toy Story 3 where everyone accepts their deaths while they're in line to get incinerated? That's sort of what happened at the end of A Link Between Worlds. You see, the land of Lorule is in turmoil with their Triforce in shambles. Link and Zelda's doppelgangers, Ravio and Hilda, taccepted that they will probably die.
Now, Link and Zelda end up using their Triforce to wish Lorule's back into existence, but there was a point where it really felt like the pay-off of this game was going to be something horrifically dark.
Majora's Mask is easily the darkest Zelda game ever, and nothing is quite as dark as seeing the Deku Butler weep beside the lifeless body of his son. Earlier in the game, he meets Link, who is still trapped in his Deku body, and comments that The Hero of Time bears a resemblance to his son. It didn't seem like it would be something followed up on.
Throughout the game, we learn that the masks Link wears all hold the souls of various residents of Termina, and we actually meet the spirits, except the Deku. It isn't until the credits roll that we see the Deku Butler balling his eyes out beside a dead Deku we walked past at the beginning of the game that we realize what happened. This is one of the saddest Zelda moments ever, and one we won't forget any time soon.