The Legend of Zelda franchise is so much more than an entertaining adventure series. Link's many quests span a world filled with vibrant storylines and enthralling experiences. Over the years, we've come to appreciate the rich lore that The Legend of Zelda has to offer. Each title introduces us to new characters, new worlds, and an immersive backstory. All of this has gamers scratching their heads about which release belongs where on the expansive Legend of Zelda timeline.
Developers have given us a lot of information through the years, including explicit details about story elements and how Hyrule came to be. We know about the golden goddesses, the evil king Ganon, and the Hero of Time. There is even an impressive compendium, called Hyrule Historia, that was developed by Akira Himekawa, Eiji Aonuma, and Shigeru Miyamoto.
But, even with all of this extensive Legend of Zelda knowledge, it hasn't stopped dedicated game theorists from developing hidden meaning and secret lore from the franchise. With so many games to analyze, and so much story-based entertainment to scour, it's no wonder these individuals have become so engrossed by the Zelda universe. Typing "Legend of Zelda Theories" into Google will reward you with a cavalcade of unique and interesting speculations from players all over the world.
Some of these theories are wacky, and some are deeply rooted in lore, while most are just crazy enough to be true. The love and adoration for this timeless quest inspired us to collect fifteen of our favorite Legend of Zelda fan theories.
15 Wind Waker: Zora Became The Rito
You'll meet many familiar races in Wind Waker but may notice a strange absence of fish-people. Although the overworld is a massive sea, and sailing is the main form of transportation, the Zora are nowhere to be found. One would assume that the humanoid-like water-dwellers would thrive during such an event. Sadly this is was not the case, but it doesn't mean the Zora are gone and forgotten in the realm of Wind Waker.
A popular fan theory states that the Zora are not missing but rather evolved, into the new bird-like race known as the Rito. This theory makes a lot of sense, considering what we know about the Zora from Ocarina of Time. That particular group was fond of freshwater, as found in rivers and lakes. The harsh saltwater of the new Great Sea might have proved too much for the Zora to handle. It's also important to note that the Great Sea is teeming with dangerous disasters and malicious monsters.
This list is dedicated to theories that showcase some possible truths but this speculation has essentially been "confirmed." This marks a time in which a crazy Legend of Zelda fan theory wasn't just entertaining but also entirely accurate.
14 Dark Link Origins
This isn't a direct fan theory, but we felt it was too interesting to leave it off this list. There are many fan theories that speak to the origins of the infamous Dark Link. This shadowy entity has been seen throughout numerous Legend of Zelda titles, sometimes appearing as a boss or sub-boss.
The "inner struggle" and need to conquer one's self is a cliche as old as time, but Dark Link isn't viewed as a simple life lesson. Some theories speculate that the villainous shadow is the essence of Link's evil nature, brought out when the hero pulled forth the Master Sword. Others believe that Ganondorf is directly responsible for summoning Dark Link, in an attempt to create a minion capable of striking down the Hero of Time.
One of the most interesting theories states that Dark Link is actually Demise, one of the main antagonists from Skyward Sword. Upon defeat, Demise was sealed directly into the Master Sword, where his remaining form would be completely purged from existence. This theory states that perhaps Demise wasn't completely gone and Link's evil essence mixed with the impure soul when the Master Sword was touched in Ocarina of Time.
13 It Was All Just A Dream
This is a popular fan theory in general, across many games and franchises, but it actually holds a decent amount of worth in the Legend of Zelda universe. The idea revolves around the dreamscape, stating that Link is simply fabricating all of these grandiose adventures within his mind. This seems highly unlikely but there are a few key things that support the theory.
Many Legend of Zelda game's feature an opening sequence in which link is "waking up in bed." Is this a direct hint that our Hylian hero is simply imagining all of his heroic deeds? It's also important to note that most games feature link as a child-like protagonist, giving us more merit to the idea that Link is simply suffering from an overactive imagination.
This wouldn't be the first time that Nintendo infused a dream sequence into a franchise. A certain red-hatted plumber was guilty of this in Super Mario 2.
12 Ocarina of Time: The Sages Are Deceased
If you haven't played Ocarina of Time (there is really no excuse for this), Link meets with seven sages who aid him in his quest to stop Ganondorf. Certain sages are tasked with overseeing temples and Link comes in contact with these individuals during his adventures. Once a specific temple is conquered, the ally takes their place in the Chamber of Sages.
There is a running theory that each of these sages meets a bitter end in their respective temple. Darunia may have fallen to the fire beast Volvagia, and we saw Nabooru as she was captured by Twin Rova. There are other instances in which characters simply go missing. Ruto accompanies Link through the Water Temple, but mysteriously vanishes when she takes off to free her people. Saria and Impa are not seen within their respective locations, but you meet them within the Chamber of Sages afterward.
It is more likely that these individuals are simply off doing other things, but it definitely creates an interesting and rather dark fan theory.
11 Zelda Has A Schizophrenic Sister
In Twilight Princess, players encounter a unique individual in Castle Town. Agitha is a young bug collector that lives on her own and, by the looks of it, lives rather well. One would assume that Agitha has a rather substantial amount of money, considering her elegant clothing and graceful nature. She also rewards Link with thousands of rupees. She doesn't appear to have a "job" outside of her obsessive hobby, so where exactly is she getting all of this money?
A Redditor suggests that Agitha is actually the sister of Princess Zelda. Even further, they believe she's schizophrenic. This isn't just baseless claim either, Agitha appears to exhibit some trademark signs of schizophrenia. She truly believes that she's a monarch to a kingdom of bugs, she mistakes Link for various bug types (if he's in a certain costume), she always has a dream-like expression, and she seems to suffer from social isolation. Even more concerning is her lackadaisical attitude when faced with danger. If you approach her as a wolf, Agitha will simply remark that you look like a puppy.
Whether this theory holds true or not, there does appear to be something rather eccentric about Agitha.
10 The Gerudo Became The Twili
The Gerudo are strangely absent in Twilight Princess, but some theories suggest they've simply changed form. Much like the Zora theory, some fans believe that the Gerudo suffered a similar evolutionary fate. Although this transition would appear to be something that aligns magically, rather than scientifically.
There are a few key elements to this theory that push it towards truth. First, we have the Mirror of Twilight, a mysterious item that serves as a gate to the Twilight Realm. This magical artifact is located within the Gerudo Desert, the homeland for the Gerudan people. Link's Twili companion Midna also makes statements that may suggest that she was one a part of the seemingly forgotten race. There is even a comment in which she states that her people's king fell due to greed.
One such king was Ganondorf, the ruler of the Gerudo. This may hint that the Twili were once the desert-dwelling race that we've seen in past releases.
9 Super Mario Bros. 3 Was A Famous Hyrule Play
This is one of the most entertaining Legend of Zelda theories floating around the internet. One Redditor suggests that Super Mario Bros. 3 was a famous and elaborate stage play that took Hyrule by storm. While Miyamoto has confirmed it was a stage play, there's no way to know if it's set in Hyrule. This seems like a complete shot in the dark, but there are a few key elements that make it at least plausible.
There are numerous nods to the Mushroom Kingdom strewn throughout The Legend of Zelda series, although they are most prominent in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. There are many paintings of Super Mario Bros. characters found throughout Hyrule castle, and the Happy Mask Salesman has an intricate Mario mask on his pack. If you look closely at Malon, you'll notice a Bowser-like clasp adorning her neck. Even more alarming is Malon's father, who looks strikingly like Mario. It's possible he was part of a theater troupe and retired to a life of simple farming once the play had run its course.
It's probable that developers simply slipped Super Mario Bros. references into the series for fun, but it is rather interesting that the title screen for Super Mario Bros. 3 looks like a theater production.
8 The Single Link Theory
This theory is fairly old and gained a lot of steam prior to the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Once Wind Waker hit store shelves, the single Link theory lost a bit of its momentum. The idea states that we are following the same Link through each subsequent release and that each Legend of Zelda title is simply another one of his many adventures.
Wind Waker put a damper on this by presenting its Link as the Hero of Winds, rather than the Hero of Time. Still, this hasn't stopped some people from putting new and unique spins on the single Link theory. There are some that suggest that Link is perhaps the same soul, reincarnated through each game. It is also suggested that both Ganondorf and Zelda share this same ability. Others see Link as a direct descendant of each former self.
In a world filled with magic and goddesses, it's not hard to believe that Link is constantly being reborn to deal with new and present dangers.
7 The Cause Of The Great Flood
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker takes place in a flooded overworld that was once the great kingdom of Hyrule. During the opening sequence, we're told that the Gods of the world were responsible for sealing away Ganon and all of Hyrule under a torrential downpour of rain.
Many players are under the assumption that the golden goddesses were responsible for sealing away the darkness, but Youtuber RMFH proposes that another set of deities may have been responsible for the Great Flood. In their video, RMFH suggests that the three dragons, Eldin, Faron, and Lanaryu (or their spirit counterparts) are to blame for the development of the Great Sea.
It's possible that these spirits had the ability to cause such a devastating flood, as they were also responsible for sealing away the Fused Shadows in Twilight Princess.
6 Breath Of The Wild Happens After Wind Waker
The placement of Breath of the Wild within the Legend of Zelda timeline has been bothering people ever since the game released back on March 3rd, 2017. The title looks and feels like it belongs somewhere towards the beginning of time, with ancient artifacts and expansive wilderness.
The running theory is that Breath of the Wild is actually placed after the events of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the newest Legend of Zelda title belongs, thanks to its unique gameplay elements and massive open-world design, but a few mysterious items suggest that Breath of the Wild takes place in the remnants of the once flooded kingdom of Hyrule.
For one, the Korok race (once the Kokiri) hadn't made an appearance in The Legend of Zelda franchise until Wind Waker. Breath of the Wild also features large mineral deposits of rock salt, perhaps suggesting that the area was once covered in salt water. It is also worth pointing out that the Sheikah patterns in Breath of the Wild look similar to the patterns adorning the Tower of the Gods from Wind Waker.
5 Gerudo Reproduce Through Gynogenesis
The absence of Gerudan males has perplexed theorists for years. Many fans have tinkered with ideas concerning the reproductive process of the Gerudan people, and one Redditor believes they have the definitive answer in Gynogenesis.
According to Zelda lore, there are men in the Gerudo race, they're just insanely rare. Approximately one is born every 100 years. If this is true, then how have the Gerudo managed to avoid extinction? That's where gynogenesis comes in. The process of gynogenesis produces clone-like offspring. This is the perfect way to explain why most Gerudan women look strikingly similar to one another.
We also know that the Gerudo often visit neighboring towns for the specific purpose of finding males to mate with. The male DNA does not normally carry over during gynogenesis, they're simply used as a tool to begin the birthing process. Although there are extremely rare instances in which the male DNA does actively carry over, which would explain why males sometimes show up in the Gerudan bloodline. It's also worth noting that Ganondorf, who served as king to the Gerudan people, has exceptionally pointy ears. Perhaps he was the product of a Gerudan mother and Hylian father.
4 There Are Four Triforce Pieces
I know that title sounds rather contradictory. How can there be four Triforce pieces when the word "tri" (meaning 3) is right in the name? According to some Zelda fans, it's because the fourth Triforce piece is missing from the middle of the structure. That black hole is the perfect size to house an additional piece, and there are some interesting visuals throughout the series that point towards the possibility of there being a coveted fourth piece.
The Hylian shield (Ocarina of Time) is a popular bit of evidence, showcasing not only three pieces which form the Triforce logo, but also a fourth piece which is located near the bottom. We also see the number four popping up quite a bit throughout the franchise. There are four Link copies in Four Swords, four giants in Majora's Mask, and four light spirits in Twilight Princess.
The "tetraforce" theory has been under much scrutiny, with many outright abandoning the idea. A few theorists still remain steadfast in this ideal and it's rather interesting to imagine a missing fourth element existing.
3 Termina Is Purgatory
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is easily the darkest release in the franchise. We don't mean a lack of lighting, but rather, its general theme and creepy imagery. This particular theory is part of a much larger grouping of ideas that all contain the centralized speculation that Link meets a terrible demise in Majora's Mask.
Termina isn't Hyrule, it's a land that exists in a completely different "world." There are many that accept that Termina is simply an alternate reality, but some diehard theorists believe that this world is actually a test meant for the Hero of Time. Everything about the land of Termina seems a bit "off." There are an abundance of people there that Link had seen and interacted with during his adventure in Ocarina of Time, although they appear to be visual clones, rather than the original individual's themselves.
The surrounding areas are also rather warped, suggesting that it is possible that the entire land of Termina was fabricated from Link's mind, or from a higher power bent on testing him. There is also a unique zone structure, which leads us to our next point.
2 Majora's Mask: The 5 Stages of Grief
There is a rather peculiar structure to the storyline for Majora's Mask and although it may be completely coincidental, it provides us with plenty of fuel for this creepy theory. It's a common thought among theorists that the zones within Termina are actually based off of the Kübler-Ross model. For anyone unfamiliar, this model was developed to explain how individuals generally deal with grief.
The proposed model features five unique stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These are the types of emotions that one would generally feel after the devastating loss of a loved one or some other type of cataclysmic event. What's curious is that the zones within Termina actually mimic these stages and the order in which you experience them in Majora's Mask is critical.
During his adventure, Link will cross paths with many folk in denial, an angry king, a Goron who cannot accept his fate, a depressed mother, and a zone filled utter acceptance. Each of these locations showcases one of the five stages of grief and leads us to the next morbid possibility on our list.
1 Link Is Dead In Majora's Mask
This is perhaps the most prominent of all Legend of Zelda theories and has been the basis of discussion on countless forum posts and fan sites. It even inspired popular YouTuber MatPat to enshrine it in one of his game theory videos. There is much to be said about The Grief Theory, with both sides of the coin receiving equal attention among the community.
In condensed form, the long-standing theory goes something like this. Link starts his journey in the lost woods, attempting to locate Navi, who mysteriously vanishes at the end of Ocarina of Time. It is here that he finds himself plummeting down a massive tree trunk and landing in the mysterious land of Termina. It is suggested that Link may have passed away during his trip to the Lost Woods, perhaps after finding himself utterly lost, or quite literally from falling many feet to his demise. After all, one of the first things that the Happy Mask Salesman says to link is, "You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?"
Perhaps this terrible fate is a little more literal than we'd all assumed. There are many out there who have spent just as much time debunking this theory and they bring up very valid points as well. Regardless of the outcome, this is definitely one of the most popular Zelda theories.