The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time went down in history as one of the greatest video games ever made. It earned that honor in so many ways: it revolutionized 3D games, explored dark themes in an apocalyptic world, and presented great characters in a thrilling fantasy adventure.
The game’s incredible mysteries add depth to everything I just mentioned. Nintendo crafted Ocarina of Time with masterful subtlety, giving us a minimal story that encourages player interpretation. It’s brilliant! As an interactive product intended for a younger audience, Ocarina of Time needs to grab the hearts and imagination of its players. With disappearing characters, unaddressed questions, mysterious structures, and off-screen events, Ocarina of Time builds a believable world that always makes us come back for more.
Sadly, some of these mysteries produce blatant plot holes. With abrupt gaps in logic, these plot holes are so distracting they’re hard to dismiss. In general, however, Nintendo uses narrative gaps to its advantage, creating narrative mysteries rather than plot holes.
All these mysteries made Ocarina of Time a cultural phenomenon, one fans will continue to discuss for years to come. Hundreds of theories surround Ocarina—many of which actually make a lot of sense! I’ve included multiple theories below so you can consider their accuracy. We may never know the exact truth, but that’s what makes Ocarina so great: you, the player, get to decide the truth. Did you catch these 25 unresolved mysteries and plot holes in Ocarina? What do you think the answers are?
25 The End Of Hyrule
By putting Link to sleep for seven years, Nintendo completely skips significant events in the game—and it’s amazing! We see the before and after, but nothing in between. Characters tell us bits of what happened, but we never find out the full story or see the events played out. This creates multiple mysteries and questions that make us fear Ganondorf even more. How did Ganon overthrow an entire kingdom? Did he rebel openly and honorably, or did he stab the king in the back? Ganon may be a powerful sorcerer, but it’s hard to imagine him defeating an entire army—which is exactly why he’s so terrifying. Nintendo lets us imagine his power instead of showing us, making us anticipate the final battle with both excitement and fear.
24 Where Did Zelda Escape To?
Speaking of Ocarina of Time’s seven-year gap…what happened to Zelda during that time? The last time we see her as a child, she and Impa are fleeing Hyrule Castle. Ganondorf follows them to the bridge but loses track of them. So they could have gone anywhere.
All we know is Impa trained Zelda to become a Sheikah during that time.
But where did they train? Once Zelda grew into her new persona (Sheik), did she and Impa continue hiding, or did they battle Ganondorf’s forces as guerilla fighters?
We never learn where Zelda went during those seven years; we just see her right before and right after. When Link wakes, he’s greeted by Sheik. I certainly hope she didn’t spend all seven years sitting in the Temple of Time, waiting for Link to awaken.
23 The Missing Generation
I love that Ocarina of Time pits two children against the King of Evil—but what happened to their parents? We know Zelda’s father rules as the king of Hyrule, and we know Link’s mother died just after placing Link in the Deku Tree’s care, but we never see these characters. Why did Link’s mother die? How did Ganondorf kill the king of Hyrule?
The even greater mystery is: where are the missing parents?
We know nothing about Link’s father or Zelda’s mother—and the same is true of Ganondorf’s parents. Kotake and Koume raised Ganondorf as surrogate parents, but what happened to his original family? This is incredibly important since Ganondorf’s father is probably Hylian (Ganon has pointy ears like Hylians, and his father couldn’t have been a Gerudo).
Even though I’d love to know the fate of Link’s, Zelda’s, and Ganondorf’s parents, I appreciate that Nintendo focused on the younger generation. The parents built a world of peace, but it’s their children who will determine the fate of Hyrule.
22 The War Before
“A fierce war” shook the world soon before Ocarina of Time, altering the course of history—but we never see how it changed history. We only hear about the war once in Ocarina of Time (although fans believe this is the same war referred to in Link to the Past and Twilight Princess, where Hylians killed each over the Triforce). You’d think such a significant war would be more integral to the story, but it’s not.
I actually appreciate the lack of detail. The war looms in the background, toying with our imagination as we wonder who fought who. We know “the king of Hyrule unified this country” after the war, but was the war restricted to Hyrule?
We also know Link’s mother fled to the Lost Woods “to escape from the fires of the war.” Did she die from war injuries? Was Link’s father a knight involved in the war? We’ll never know—and that’s exactly what makes the war so captivating.
21 Where’s Jabu-Jabu?
The most chilling moment in Ocarina of Time (for me) is when you first become Adult Link. You step outside the Temple of Time into a dark world where the happy citizens of Castle Town have been replaced by bloodthirsty ReDeads. The zombies occupy the lifeless ruins of Castle Town, implying everyone died during your seven-year slumber. Fortunately, you find survivors in Kakariko Village—and you see even more survivors in the ending credits.
Jabu-Jabu, on the other hand, disappears and never returns. The guardian you saved as a child is nowhere to be found in the apocalyptic future. Did Ganondorf murder him? Did he escape to an unknown location?
Jabu-Jabu’s absence is disturbingly reminiscent of the dead Deku Tree. Even though Link tried his best to save the Deku Tree, he couldn’t completely destroy Ganon’s curse. What if Jabu-Jabu also died from Ganondorf’s curse?
We’ll never know what happened to Jabu-Jabu, but it doesn’t matter: his mysterious disappearance will always disturb us and remind us of Link’s failure to prevent the apocalypse.
20 Who REALLY Wrote The Letter In A Bottle?
Jabu-Jabu isn’t the only mystery of Zora’s Domain. In order to gain an audience with Lord Jabu-Jabu, you first need the Letter In A Bottle—a letter from Ruto saying: “Help me. I’m waiting for you inside Lord Jabu-Jabu’s belly.”
The letter convinces King Zora (Ruto’s father) to let you see Jabu-Jabu. You finally find Ruto within his belly, as written in the letter. Yet Ruto denies writing the letter. She says she has no idea what you’re talking about, exclaiming that she’d never ask anyone to help her. Ruto immediately demonstrates this independence—and almost immediately contradicts herself by asking you to carry her.
As a contradictory, proud, arrogant child, Ruto could have easily lied to us. It fits her character; even if she needs help, the Zora princess is too proud to admit it. Nonetheless, we can’t assume she’s lying. Perhaps she’s being honest—in which case, we have no idea who really wrote the letter! Anyone might have forged the letter so Link could rescue Ruto and Jabu-Jabu.
19 Goddess Of The Sand
You’ll find a lot of mysterious structures and statues in the world of Ocarina of Time, but the Goddess of the Sand is by far the most tantalizing one. She adds religious diversity to Hyrule, for she only appears within the Gerudo’s sacred temple.
Long ago, the Gerudo built a massive statue of the Goddess and housed the Spirit Temple within her. A snake wraps around her body, its head resting atop her head.
Fans theorize that the Goddess actually represents Din.
Din is commonly associated with fire and earth, so the scorching desert fits. She even carries fire in Twilight Princess. Ganondorf—a Gerudo—acquires Din’s piece of the Triforce, further suggesting a connection between Din and the Gerudo.
Obviously, the Goddess of the Sand could be any of the three goddesses, or her own separate deity. Nintendo offers no explanatory text, wonderfully leaving the Goddess’s identity and symbolism up to fan interpretation.
18 Nabooru’s Promise
When you first meet Nabooru, she promises she’ll “do something great for you” in exchange for the Silver Gauntlets. The Silver Gauntlets end up being their own reward; Koume and Kotake kidnap Nabooru before you can give her the Gauntlets.
After you rescue her as Adult Link, she notes how handsome you’ve become and says: “I should have kept the promise I made back then.” How incredibly disturbing! Nintendo leaves her promise an ambiguous mystery, but it’s pretty clear she wants to get more than friendly with you. That’d be acceptable if she’d made this promise to Adult Link, but she didn’t. She wanted to get intimate with a child! Ocarina of Time already has an abundant amount of romance, but Nabooru’s “romantic” intentions are completely inappropriate for a kids’ game.
17 So…Ganon Can Capture Zelda, But NOT Link!?
Zelda evades Ganon for seven years, disguised as Sheik so Ganon won’t find her. When she reveals her true identity to Link, this gives Ganondorf the chance to see and capture Zelda.
Unfortunately, this plot point only makes sense on the surface. Link stands right in front of the captured Zelda, and Ganon clearly knows Link has the last piece of the Triforce. Why doesn’t Ganon use the same spell to imprison Link?
Each Triforce grants its own unique powers, but this is just ridiculous.
I’m sure Link’s Triforce grants him immunity to Ganondorf’s spells. In return for immunity, Link can’t cast powerful spells like Zelda and Ganondorf. So there’s a clear balance—but that balance doesn’t justify Zelda’s treatment! Instead of maintaining Zelda’s strong character and building an interesting plot around Zelda, Ganondorf, and Link, Nintendo turns Zelda into a helpless damsel—an object which Link and Ganon fight over.
16 What Happened To Ganon’s Epic Horse?
Ganondorf made a big impression the first time we saw him in Ocarina of Time—largely because of his epic horse. With glowing red eyes and a mane as red and fiery as Ganon’s, the horse both terrified and thrilled us. So I’m sure you were as disappointed as me when that horse disappeared. Instead of facing you on his horse, Ganondorf fights alone. Fortunately, you get to fight a phantom version of the horse in the Forest Temple, where Phantom Ganon rides an identical horse.
If you win Epona from Ingo, Ingo laments that she was supposed to be a gift for Ganondorf. Is Ingo simply giving Ganon an extraneous gift…or does Ganondorf need a new horse? Some fans believe Ganon indeed needs Epona because his horse died during Link’s seven-year slumber.
15 Zelda’s Prophecies
If you play through Ocarina of Time in the straightforward, “default” way, you’ll only hear a single prophecy from Zelda. She foresaw your arrival and foretold Ganondorf’s destruction of Hyrule. If you explore the game’s dialogue options, however, you’ll learn more about Zelda and her prophecies. When she asks if you believe her prophecy, you can say no, and she replies, “My prophecies have never been wrong!”
How many prophecies has Zelda foretold?
Every incarnation of Zelda’s demonstrated powerful magical abilities, so prophecies don’t feel out of place. But what kind of prophecies does she tell? If they always come true, why doesn’t her father believe her prophecy about Ganondorf?
Ironically, Zelda’s right: her prophecies always come true. By trying to stop Ganondorf, she accidentally allowed him to enter the Sacred Realm and take the Triforce of Power. Of course, he probably would have conquered Hyrule anyway without Zelda’s intervention.
14 Link May Have Foreseen The Final Battle!
Zelda isn’t the only one with accurate prophecies. In Ocarina of Time’s opening, Link dreams of his first encounter with Ganondorf—which takes place in the future! Zelda often foresees the future in the Legend of Zelda games, but this is the only instance in which Link sees the future…or is it?
At the base of Link’s tree lies a peculiar drawing. A warrior with a sword, a shield, and a fairy battles a Godzilla-like monster. This picture wonderfully foreshadows the final battle of the game.
The big mystery is: did Nintendo simply include this as an Easter egg, or did Link dream of the final battle and draw it? I like to think Link dreamt of the battle but didn’t know how to interpret it. After all, a child wouldn’t connect the dots and realize Ganondorf—a seemingly normal man—would transform into a monster.
13 Hylian Guards Are Terrible At Their Job
In order to meet Zelda for the first time, you must sneak past several Hylian guards. First you move through the outer grounds, then through the inner garden. If the guards in the grounds see you, they throw you out the front gate. The guards in Zelda’s garden will throw you out…onto the castle grounds. Did the guards in the garden not realize the grounds are forbidden, too? Or maybe they just had some miscommunications with the other guards.
Nintendo clearly overlooked this plot hole to improve your gaming experience.
Nintendo doesn’t want you to redo the whole stage, so the garden guards only throw you back to the halfway point. I appreciate the smooth, fast gameplay. Nonetheless, it’s too bad Nintendo didn’t put in the effort to design great gameplay and fix this plot hole.
12 The Lost Sheikah Tribe
Before Breath of the Wild, the Sheikah were a mysterious and nearly extinct tribe. When introduced in Ocarina of Time, they served more as a myth than a functioning group. Impa is the last Sheikah until she trains Zelda, who becomes Sheik. Kakariko Village used to be an explicitly Sheikah town, but with the tribe’s mysterious disappearance Impa opened the village to the people.
The Sheikah additionally built the Shadow Temple and the Bottom of the Well, the two most terrifying areas in Ocarina of Time. Why would the Sheikah create such horrible places? All we know is that the Sheikah swore to protect the Royal Family of Hyrule—at any costs! Perhaps that’s why they and their dark secrets faded away: maybe they had to do terrible things in order to win the war and keep the Royal Family in power.
11 Hyrule’s Dark Side
Most Zelda games include a scary dungeon, and Ocarina of Time is no exception. The Shadow Temple and Bottom of the Well include blood, horrifying monsters, and torture devices. This makes for great gameplay design but also wonderful storytelling. Why are there torture chambers within the Sheikah’s sacred temple? Perhaps the “good guys” defending Hyrule have a dark side we never knew about.
Because Bongo Bongo emerges from the mysterious well, many fans think the Sheikah tortured and executed Bongo Bongo within the well. That would explain his severed hands: in medieval Europe, thieves often had their hands cut off. What if Bongo Bongo isn’t as evil as we thought? After all, he doesn’t try to hurt anyone after escaping to the Shadow Temple. What if the Sheikah wronged him, and he invaded their Shadow Temple for revenge? I wouldn’t put it past Nintendo, considering how many enemies in Ocarina of Time aren’t as black-and-white as they seem.
10 Where Are The Other Ancient Sages?
Rauru, the Sage of Light, is one of the “ancient Sages who built the Temple of Time to protect the entrance to the Sacred Realm.” Ok…so what happened to the other ancient Sages? Why is Rauru the only one left standing? Did Ganondorf kill the other Sages, or did they die of natural causes? If Ganondorf murdered the others, how did Rauru evade him?
The mystery’s fun, but I think Nintendo could have done better.
The ancient Sages add mysterious lore to Ocarina’s world. They’re fine. Rauru, on the other hand, is so mysterious he feels more like a plot hole than a real character. I think Nintendo should have either removed Rauru (thus allowing Sheik to help Link after his seven-year slumber) or included all the ancient Sages in the Chamber of the Sages, which they wouldn’t be able to leave.
9 Welcome To Kakariko Village. It’s Fireproof!
I admit it: Kakariko Village on fire is epic. I enjoyed it. But that doesn’t make it any less of a plot hole.
When you step into the burning village, Bongo Bongo is still inside the well. Obviously Bongo Bongo set the village on fire, but how could he do this if he hadn’t left the well yet? Perhaps by breaking the seal, he accidentally caused a fire?
Secondly, why didn’t the fire do any damage? There was a lot of fire, yet when you wake up, Kakariko looks the same as before. We also have no idea who put out the fire. I suspect Impa and Sheik worked together to douse the fires (after all, Sheik has magical powers), but I don’t care how quickly they put it out: there’s no way the fire didn’t burn any buildings down.
Obviously, Nintendo didn’t want to redesign Kakariko Village, but I wish they had. If Bongo Bongo had burned down the village, he would have felt like a genuine, imposing threat.
8 Poor Grog. What Made You So Angry At The World?
Grog’s story is one of the saddest in Ocarina of Time. Believing all “people are disgusting,” he runs away from home and ends up in the Lost Woods. Dissatisfied with the world, he sits there and withers away—until you return his beloved blue Cucco, Cojiri. He realizes that good still exists in the world, and he asks you to help out his Granny. Granny, in turn, makes a potion to save him.
But when you return to the Lost Woods, he’s disappeared.
A Kokiri stands in his place, telling you Grog turned into a Stalfos. Such is the fate of all who enter the Lost Woods.
We’ll never know what exactly made Grog so disappointed in the world. His father, Mutoh, is obviously selfish—but his sister, Anju, is the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. She gives you Cojiri in the hope you’ll help her lonely brother. A brother who—because of his terrible upbringing—Anju will never see again.
7 Who’s Behind The Armor?
One of my favorite things about Ocarina of Time is its dark world. As the King of Evil, Ganondorf murders the king of Hyrule and casts darkness across the land. Deadly monsters plague Hyrule—but not all these monsters are pure evil. If you perform a certain quest, you learn that Stalfos used to be regular people. Those who can’t escape the Lost Woods are transformed into Stalfos.
Nintendo similarly couples the Iron Knuckles with a plot twist. After battling several of these enemies, you fight a stronger version at the Spirit Temple’s end—and discover Nabooru beneath the armor. Koume and Kotake brainwashed her and forced her to battle you.
This raises a disturbing question: if Nabooru’s brainwashed, are the other Iron Knuckles brainwashed, too? What if more Gerudo hide behind the armor, and you’ve murdered innocent women!? Perhaps Link isn’t the great hero everyone thinks he is.
6 Hungry For Fish, Or Hungry For Help?
When you drop a fish in front of Lord Jabu-Jabu, he eagerly eats the fish—and you along with it. On the surface, he seems hungry for fish. Surely he ate you by accident…right?
I’m not so sure. At the beginning of the game, the Deku Tree opens his mouth so you may enter and free him from Ganondorf’s curse. Ganon similarly cursed Jabu-Jabu, and you free him from within just as you freed the Deku Tree.
Jabu-Jabu never speaks, so we never learn his true intentions.
Perhaps Jabu-Jabu ate Link so the hero could save him. Jabu-Jabu probably ate Ruto for the same reason, since she’s taken care of Jabu-Jabu for years. When Ruto failed to destroy his curse, Jabu-Jabu turned to his next caretaker: Link. Both Ruto and Link fed Jabu-Jabu, so the guardian surely recognized Link’s benevolence.
Or perhaps Jabu-Jabu was just hungry. We’ll never know because Nintendo never explains the strange events in Zora’s Domain.
5 Sheik And The Sages
Nintendo builds a lot of mystery around Sheik, particularly since Sheik somehow knows who the Sages are. Once you learn Sheik’s identity as Princess Zelda, leader of the Sages, this knowledges makes sense. Nonetheless, the whole situation feels…off. If Zelda knows who the Sages are, why didn’t she tell them? Perhaps they needed to awaken naturally, without intervention. But if that’s the case, why does she tell Link their identities?
And if Sheik knows their identities…why don’t they know hers?
After Ruto becomes a Sage, she still refers to Sheik as a “him.” If Zelda, as an awakened Sage, knows who the other Sages are, why doesn’t Ruto recognize her? Then again, Ganondorf couldn’t see through the disguise either despite his magical powers, so perhaps the Triforce of Wisdom protects Zelda’s identity. Or maybe Ruto knew her identity and tricked Link in order to protect Zelda—which would demonstrate a strong growth in Ruto’s character.
4 Stalchildren: What Are They?
Hylians turn into Stalfos, Kokiri turn into Skull Kids…so who turns into Stalchildren? These mysterious foes haunt Hyrule, emerging from the ground anytime you explore Hyrule Field at night as a child. Their size and name suggests they were once children—perhaps Hylian children who entered the Lost Woods and never returned. But nothing in Ocarina of Time confirms our suspicions.
Majora’s Mask, on the other hand, offers a solution. When you speak with the Stalchildren in Majora’s Mask, you discover they were once soldiers. We obviously can’t put too much faith in this game’s “facts” since it takes place in a surreal, dreamlike world—but I nonetheless love its ideas! Were all Stalchildren once soldiers? A massive war shook the world just before Ocarina of Time: what if the soldiers who died in Hyrule Field turned into Stalchildren?
3 The Dark, Unseen Sacred Realm
Zelda tells us that when somebody enters the Sacred Realm, the Realm changes according to that person’s heart. If their heart is good, the Sacred Realm becomes a paradise. When Ganondorf invades the Realm, he turns it into a terrible, evil land.
Sadly, we never see this transformation. We never see the Sacred Realm (apart from the Chamber of the Sages, an isolated temple within the Sacred Realm). Nintendo once again toys with our imagination, making us want something we never receive.
Long-time fans know exactly what the Sacred Realm looks like. They’ve seen it before!
If you played A Link to the Past prior to Ocarina of Time, you know Ocarina is a prequel to Link to the Past. The Sages seal Ganon within the Sacred Realm, which—due to Ganon’s evil nature—becomes the Dark World of Link to the Past.
It’s too bad we didn’t get to see the 3D version of the Dark World, but I think Nintendo made a good choice. By excluding the Dark World, the story focuses more on Hyrule and Link’s time-traveling mechanic.
2 The Ghost Hunter’s True Identity
The Ghost Hunter is one of the coolest and most mysterious characters in Ocarina of Time. Just look at that creepy outfit, and that glowing red eye!
I particularly love the Ghost Hunter because there’s so many theories circulating about “him” (most people theorize it’s a him). You only see the Ghost Hunter as Adult Link, in Castle Town’s guardhouse. If you visit that same guardhouse as a child, you meet a guard who talks a lot like the Ghost Hunter. Both characters love ghosts, and both want more chaos in the world.
So his identity seems obvious—but wait till you hear the other theories!
The Ghost Hunter’s single, red eye recalls the Lens of Truth, which belonged to a man “who had an eye that could see the truth.” The Ghost Hunter can read your mind—so he could easily be that same man!
Finally, a lot of fans associate the unnamed Ghost Hunter with the unnamed “Boy in the Graveyard.” He patrols the Kakariko graveyard with a stick—and the Ghost Hunter protects ghosts with a similar stick. You only see the boy as Child Link. Like the guard in the guardhouse, the boy never reappears in the Adult timeline—adding more mystery to the Ghost Hunter and the entire game.
1 What Happened To The Sages?
The primary objective of Ocarina of Time is to awaken the Sages, who then help you defeat Ganon. As the Hero of Time, you must purge the Temples of evil to wake the Sages, but that doesn’t stop the Sages from taking on that duty themselves. Every Sage enters the Temples to save their people—and they never come back out. Where’d they go? Nintendo shrouds their disappearance in mystery, but fans theorize that the Sages actually died.
The Sages probably fought the bosses and failed.
Every Sage heads toward the boss room before disappearing. The bosses remain alive and strong, so it seems likely the bosses killed the Sages. Only Nabooru defies this theory. Kotake and Koume plan on brainwashing her again—although they may have changed their minds and killed her.
The epilogue subtly supports this theory. While the rest of Hyrule celebrates, Mido and the Zora King sit in sadness. They mourn their beloved Sages, who watch from a distance as spiritual guardians.