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Zelda’s Fate in ‘Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’

By June 8, 2023No Comments5 min read

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is massive. So much so that our team is over 100 hours per person into it and there’s not yet a sign of reaching its end. As we’ve kept ourselves in a bubble aside from collaborative hints towards quests, caves, and flying machines, one thing has remained consistent: everyone asks “What happened to Princess Zelda?”

Major Story Spoilers Below for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom 

The game opens with the events shown in Tears of the Kingdom’s first trailer and following the events of Breath of the Wild as Princess Zelda and the Hero of Hyrule, Link, descend into the deep caverns below Hyrule Castle. Underneath, we discover what will be known as gloom, dark red matter encroaching on the world above, and the corpse of the Demon King, Ganondorf, imprisoned by an enchanted spiral at the center of the chasm. 

Once awakened, he gives Link a classic Princess Mononoke curse with an arm corrupt by tendrils of darkness, and decays the Master Sword in an instant. Zelda meanwhile, falls into the pit, but then flashes in bright light and disappears before she can be immersed in the terrors below.

Even before players finish the tutorial sequence of the game Zelda’s presence is everywhere, but not quite as explicitly as calling out to him with her voice like she has done inBreath of the Wild and so many other past entries. Link awakens eight years in the future, evident by his flowing main. As he emerges from the sky island’s cave, he encounters the Zoanite, ancient mechanical constructs that appear throughout  and alluded to in Breath of the Wild and Age of Calamity. Right away, Zelda is spoken about in the past tense as Link is given the Purah Pad, the device through which Link uses a digital camera, as well as other telekinetic and constructive abilities. Zelda had this device in her possession when she disappeared, leaving lingering questions for players as to why it was left with the Zoanite.

Even for new players it comes as little surprise that Princess Zelda is stuck in the past, a well-worn  trope of the series. From Ocarina of Time to Skyward Sword, Link has often been asked to travel through time. Concept art designs show some of Miyamoto’s plans for this date back  as far as 1991’s A Link to the Past

The game flips the script this time around with Zelda as the one who travels across time, using her new powers to make her way back to Link to help and defeat Ganondorf. 


Once players begin exploring the main quest as Link, they venture off to meet characters throughout the world, all in search of Princess Zelda. Her lack of presence is felt throughout Hyrule and the sky islands.There are instances such as the Royal Guard and the Goron leader Yonobo seeing visions of her as ghostly signposts throughout the world, a specter of the princess as she hints at her whereabouts.

When players find Impa in the northeast, the former leader of the Sheikah tribe, players are introduced to the game’s story points in the form of Geoglyphs, illustrative paintings on the world’s surface, each with a pool of water containing one of Zelda’s memories after she’s sent to the past. The game’s greatest mystery throughout these story points is how Zelda gets back to the present and, depending on what order you discover these Geoglyphs, the answer may be obvious.

One of the most stunning aspects of Breath of the Wild that was carried over to Tears of the Kingdom is the three legendary dragons to interpret the three goddesses who created the three pieces of Triforce: Naydra for Nayru’s Wisdom, Dindrall for Din’s Power, and Farosh for Faeore’s Courage. In this game, however, a fourth dragon appears: the light dragon. Its features are unique, and if players are keen on visual cues, they can spy the imagery of this dragon throughout Hyrule in Tears of the Kingdom. This is most evident in the shrines’ exterior and interior design. 

The presence of this light dragon in Hyrule’s iconography is new after Link awakens in Tears of the Kingdom. Even the game’s logo features this light dragon, illustrated in a circle with the Zoanite’s green and angular texture pattern. The circular patterns in the game’s architecture and structures are referential to Japanese zen gardens drawn in sand, conveying a cyclical nature in the game’s visual design. 

For some, it might be abundantly clear that the game’s theme is Zelda and Link trying to find one another as they’re stranded apart across time. The newly outward romantic subtext between the two makes this aspect all the more bittersweet, but the story doesn’t end there.

As players find themselves unlocking the Geoglyphs one thing becomes clear as the pieces come together: Ganondorf’s power is too great for the first rulers of Hyrule to take him down permanently, thus resulting in the Imprisoning War, sealing him away with the power they have. Additionally, Zelda no longer has a way home, leaving her stuck in the past and burdened with knowledge of the future, with no training to get back, and a decayed Master Sword that found its way to her desperate for aid. Her only choice is to transform into an immortal dragon.

By doing so, she can slowly restore the Master Swords power to an even greater place than it ever has been as it journeys with her across all of Hyrule’s timeline. Once she gets back to her original time, however, her sense of self will be completely lost; the only thing remaining would be her tears which create the Geoglyphs that the player, and Link must hunt down. The tears of the kingdom tell Zelda’s story across the vastness of centuries. 

This butterfly effect creates clues for Link after he’s awoken, leading him to the head of the light dragon in Hyrule’s new splinter of history as the Zoanite lie in wait, and Zelda carries the blade of evil’s bane above the skies. Once players reach the ultimate mid-point goal of every Zelda game in reclaiming the Master Sword, they should feel it in their bones; when they see the golden mane and blue eyes of this Light Dragon which carries the blade that this is, in fact, Princess Zelda, even if they don’t know for sure yet.

Evan Griffin

Based in the northern stretches of New England, Evan is an elder high-wizard and co-founder of the Leading the Games section, Evan is determined to make people remember the joys of older games which have since lost their way. Evan’s voice can be heard in podcasting, YouTube videos, essays, and overlong diatribes on media he wants you to have the full context on.

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