Link, the green-capped hero from The Legend of Zelda series, is one of gaming’s most enduring, best loved, and iconic creations.
Fans have gladly followed the stoic elven hero throughout the years on his journeys across the land of Hyrule from their humble 8-bit beginnings, to save the Princess Zelda from the forces of darkness (and y’know... cut down bushes and stuff too). But look past his stony, silent exterior, and you will find that this “hero” is in fact a complete and total dick. Sure, he might have stopped the moon crashing into the Earth, and defeated darkness incarnate multiple times... but the guy’s a jerk. Here’s why.
Let’s start with an obvious one. Pretty much every Zelda game has cuckoos, and every person in the world who has played Zelda has at some point attacked these cuckoos with malicious forethought. Link is a serial animal-hater who wanders into the nearest town and begins maiming the livestock. Why?
It doesn’t earn him any money, and it doesn’t advance his quest in any way. He just does it for the kicks, the sicko. And when he’s done stabbing a cuckoo in the face, he usually uses that same, abused and shaken cuckoo to fly through the air so he can grab himself a piece of heart or something. On top of THAT, he’s been known to spank his horse to make it go faster, which is kinda weird whichever way you slice it.
The Legend of Zelda series is known for having pretty high stakes. We’re talking “fate of the land” type stories, right? Well, someone should probably convey this info to Link, because while the land of Hyrule is in peril, he’s usually off bug hunting, fishing, or playing some kind of mini game involving archery, or sailing, or horseback racing.
He essentially treats his quest to save the world as an upper-class retreat; I’m surprised he doesn’t go shooting pheasants too, but then again, he’s probably had his fill of birds from all the cuckoos he abuses. How can Link happily potter about doing trading subquests when poor Zelda is locked in some dank cell somewhere, probably being smacked around by some kind of moblin?
Link doesn’t talk to anyone, ever. We know he’s got a tongue though, because he makes all those weird “hyah” and “gah” noises. We also know he understands the language, because he has to talk to a whole bunch of people on his travels. The conclusion we must come to? Link chooses not to talk, because he’s just rude. There are people in Hyrule who share vital clues and intimate details of their lives with Link. Does he thank them? No. He stares at them blankly, and leaves. As long as he gets what he needs, he has no time to waste talking to the idiots of Hyrule.
Picture the scene: you’re sat at home, you’ve had a long day at work, and you just wanna unwind, eat some dinner, and maybe take a bath. Suddenly, just as you get into the mindset to relax, a little kid in weird green clothes bursts through the door without knocking, runs around, maybe gets all up in your face, and leaves again without a word. Naturally, you feel violated. Shocked, you sit down and cry, knowing full well you won’t feel comfortable taking a bath while this madman is around.
Of course, you’re one of the lucky ones if Link just walks into your house, violates your privacy, and leaves without breaking anything. If you see Link rolling into town, hide the fine china, because he will compulsively destroy any vase he sees. That wedding crockery you got? Smashed. That cute pot your kid made in arts and crafts? Gone. Grandma’s ashes? He wouldn’t give it a second thought. He’s also in the habit of rolling into crates to destroy them , and tearing up carefully preserved greenery, all in the name of monetary gain. For shame, Link.
Link has always collected hearts to regain his health. It’s common gaming knowledge, in the same way that everyone knows that Sonic loves rings, and Mario has a thing for coins and mushrooms (much like most drug dealers... but that’s another observation for another time). But why has no one ever called into question the fact that Link uses organs to keep himself alive? That’s undeniably pretty dark, right? Are they human, or are they from the monsters he kills? We can tell ourselves they’re “magic hearts,” but we all know we’d be lying to ourselves.
In the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Link arrives in a town full of people who are struggling with some very gnarly personal problems. In case you didn’t know, Majora’s Mask actually takes place over the same three days again and again, so anyone that Link helps is effectively un-helped whenever he has to travel back to the first day.
Now, Link helps all of these people at some point or other because they offer some kind of reward. But does he go back and help them again every time he has to travel back in time? No. They have nothing to offer him anymore, because he’s already helped them in another time. He knows how bad these people’s problems are, and yet actively chooses not to help them out again after he gets what he needs out of it. Pure evil.
Most of the big bosses in The Legend of Zelda are minions of evil, and should be put down for the good of the land, but not all of them are. On more than a few occasions, Link has set foot in a dungeon that is nothing more than a natural habitat for bats, and other wild (if slightly scary) creatures.
But if someone tells Link to stroll into a cavern and clear it out of the “monsters” he’ll do it without a second thought to whose rightful home that cave really is, as long as there’s something in it for him. Of course these beasts are gonna attack Link if he wanders into their home. They’re probably scared. Link doesn’t care, though, he just cuts down rare creatures in their own habitat. All because someone offered him something shiny.
This one’s pretty specific to a certain game, Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy. And even though it’s a very old game by this point, we’d hate to spoil what is actually a major plot point for you, so if you have any intentions of picking this one up and don’t want it spoiled, skip this bit.
Basically, Link finds himself on a pretty pleasant (if slightly boring) island, blessed with lots of unique and charming inhabitants. Of course, Link wants to get home, and what he wants he gets. Link eventually learns that the entire island is actually the dream of a giant magic fish (yes, really) but the people on this island are still as real as him (relatively speaking, since we’re talking about a video game here). Even though Link knows that waking up the magic fish will destroy the dream, and therefore the entire island, he goes and does it anyway. That’s dozens of people dead, just so he can get his way. Wow.
Link kidnaps and murders fairies. Come on. That statement alone should be enough to convince you what a piece of work Link really is, but we should expand on this: Fairies have been a tool for healing Link’s health since the very first Zelda game. He comes into contact with the fairy, and they vanish. But where do these fairies go once they’ve healed Link? Do they vanish back home? No.
Grow up, people – these fairies give their lives to heal Link, and he callously mows through them like they’re Cadbury Creme Eggs. In later Zelda games, he even utilises bottles and nets to capture multiple, innocent fairies, just so he can save himself when he screws up. You only need to look at the fairies in Wind Waker when Link captures them in a bottle... they do not want to be there at all.
Link, man... you’re just a bad guy, plain and simple.