The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom cracks the history of Hyrule wide open, but for all the reveals and questions it answers, it does leave some hanging threads that’s got us speculating about this world’s past, present, and future. Here are some of the burning questions we have after all the vehicle building, the weapon breaking, and the princess saving.
Spoilers for Tears of the Kingdom follow.
Look, we can get to the actual big lore questions in a minute, but good lord, they really took Zelda off the board again in Tears of the Kingdom. Fans are clamoring for a playable Zelda in one of the main games, and I’m over here just asking for her to get to do something rather than get swept away while Link and friends do all the dirty work. She spent all of Breath of the WIld’s flashbacks feeling a quiet resentment toward her passive role in things, and then she just continues to be dealt that hand.
I will admit, the story Zelda has in Tears of the Kingdom is incredibly affecting for what it is. She is sent into the past with the Master Sword and becomes an immortal dragon to carry the weapon through the centuries and bring it back to Link in the present day. The reveal hits like a truck. But let a girl do some shit other than wait for her man. Please, Nintendo, I’m begging.
Because Tears of the Kingdom deals with time travel, it’s only natural to wonder about its place in the series’ timeline. Unfortunately, Nintendo has been a little indirect in its messaging about how Breath of the Wild and its sequel slot into the established chronology of Zelda, because according to producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, they take place at the end of the timeline, but which of its branching stories it follows is “up to the player’s imagination.”
There was a lot of speculation ahead of Tears of the Kingdom that would tie into Twilight Princess that didn’t really pan out, but if it had that would’ve answered this question. But right now, Zelda goes back to an origin point in Hyrule’s history that doesn’t immediately match up with any specific timeline. In these flashbacks, we see the Imprisoning War, which was an event that was originally brought up in A Link to the Past, but in Tears of the Kingdom, this conflict between Ganondorf and the original Hyrule Sages is shown to have happened at the founding of Hyrule.
Tears of the Kingdom’s depiction of both the Imprisoning War and the founding of Hyrule seemingly contradicts established lore, which may hint that Breath of the Wild and its sequel exist in a new continuity entirely. But this isn’t explicitly stated anywhere in the game, so we’re just left to wonder. But if this isn’t the case…
…was the Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom incarnation of Princess Zelda present throughout the rest of the series somewhere as an immortal dragon? That’s one of the most tragic parts of Zelda’s role in Tears of the Kingdom, is that she turns herself into an ageless, mindless dragon just to make sure Link can retrieve the Master Sword to fight Ganondorf in the present day. But she starts off at the founding of Hyrule, and Tears of the Kingdom ostensibly is the end point of the series’ long timeline. In theory, that means Zelda most likely was alive somewhere in Hyrule through every other Legend of Zelda game.
When she’s magically reverted to her old self at the end, she doesn’t seem to have memories of her time as a dragon, but that could become a plot point in a hypothetical third game. God knows it would help alleviate the pain of her not getting to be an active player in the story until the end.
With Ganondorf back in the fold, I was surprised that Tears of the Kingdom didn’t really seem to call back to the Triforce, the ancient, magical power source that has connected Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf as bearers of its three pieces. The Triforce’s three components represent ideals corresponding to the three characters, Courage (Link), Wisdom (Zelda), and Power (Ganondorf), and the fight for it has kept our heroes linked to the villain this entire time. When Ganondorf knew Link’s name in the opening sequence after being revived, I thought this meant we were facing a version of the Gerudo king that knew previous incarnations of the hero. But as is revealed in a flashback, it was Rauru, the Zonai leader, who told Ganondorf Link’s name before he was sealed away. So their connection was not tied to the Triforce at all, but instead the time travel shenanigans Zelda gets up to.
When Zelda awakened to her true power in Breath of the Wild’s flashbacks, the Triforce appeared on the back of her hand as it does in other games, but there’s not a lot of attention brought to it. In Tears of the Kingdom, it’s even less of a factor, as it mostly appears in architecture and as a tattoo on Sonia’s arm. I’m not opposed to these games trying new things and not being beholden to the past, but it is curious that it still seems to be a force in the universe but doesn’t seem to be a major talking point.
In a lot of Zelda games, Ganondorf is sealed away rather than straight-up murdered. In an interconnected timeline that deals in reincarnation, this lets Nintendo bring him back in future games and still carry all that history with him. But in Tears of the Kingdom, he turns into a dragon and then explodes. Just straight-up blown to smithereens over Hyrule. This is a fantasy setting, so nothing’s stopping Nintendo from bringing him back and explaining it away as magic. But it is a pretty definitive, explosive end for Ganondorf at the end, and I’m curious to see what the evil force is in a hypothetical future game.
So, Nintendo decided that instead of just letting Link and Prince Sidon exist as the loving boyfriends we know they should be, it should give Sidon a fiance. But at the end of the game, he devotes himself to being the Sage of Water and a protector of Zelda and the kingdom of Hyrule. And honestly, I just don’t think he’s gonna have the time to be a good husband to Yona if he’s out on adventures with his best pal Link. You know, the one they made a whole ass statue in which he is riding him for everyone in the Zora’s Domain to see. Maybe it would just be better for him to call off the wedding so he can fully devote himself to running around Hyrule with Link and just hanging out with his best bro whom he loves so very much. It just seems like the responsible thing to do. Yona will be free to find a new, more rewarding life for herself while Link rides Sidon into the sunset.
Zelda’s transformation into the Light Dragon is brought upon by her swallowing a Secret Stone. We see this again with Ganondorf in the final boss fight, when he also devours his own stone and turns into the Demon Dragon. However, these aren’t the only dragons of this nature we see in Tears of the Kingdom. There are three others, Dinraal, Farosh, and Naydra. Their names call back to the Golden Goddesses who created Hyrule, Din, Farore, and Nayru, but they’re not explicitly said to be these goddesses in dragon form. But when the Zonai Sage of Spirit Mineru explains that devouring a Secret Stone is what turns a person into an immortal dragon, she does so with a great deal of worry, as if this price is well-documented in Hyrule’s history. We still don’t know for sure who those dragons once were, but they’ve been around longer than Zelda was in her own dragon form, and exist as a cautionary tale.
Because the time period Zelda arrives in when she travels to the past is meant to be the origins point of Hyrule, it does raise questions about how the Hyrule we know today came to be from it. The Zonai have a third eye on their foreheads, with eyelashes that look evocative of the Sheikah symbol that has appeared in several games over the years. It makes you wonder if this iconography might have originated from the Zonai before Ganondorf showed up.
There are some pretty major hints that Link and Zelda are a couple in Tears of the Kingdom, even if the game never explicitly shows them doing couple-like things and Zelda’s voice actor isn’t confirming it. But also, that ending, in which the player dives down to Hyrule to catch her, is some extremely romantic shit. That man is diving for that woman like his life depends on it, and Zelda surrendered her life to become an immortal dragon just to survive long enough to give him his sword back, and you want me to believe they’re just besties? I don’t buy it, Nintendo, and neither should you, reader. They’re lovers. I will accept no other answer.