Nintendo games have never been very big on romantic pairings between its characters. Sure, you have the occasional kiss on the cheek in either a Mario or a Zelda game, but by and large, the storylines for most of Nintendo’s games remain largely E-rated. However, there is no denying that sparks exist between certain characters present in their flagship franchises, the most notable of which (in the recent years especially) is Link and Zelda, from the famous Legend of Zelda series. While the series’ second game gave all of us an inkling of what we could expect out of their relationship, future games in the franchise stuck to a strict platonic stance between the two characters. However, the two latest entires in the series, Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild, have certainly given more of an indication of a romantic attraction between the two leads. In honour of Valentine’s Day, this article is going to examine the relationship between Zelda and Link in both of these games, and ultimately decide in which game a romantic relationship is more heavily hinted at.
Link and Zelda: Childhood Friends of Destiny
In Skyward Sword, Link and Zelda are introduced to the player as childhood friends who know each other inside out. They have always been in each other’s company, through thick and thin, and are extremely close. Zelda sends her loftwing to wake Link up on the morning of the Wing Ceremony because she figured he would sleep in if he was uninterrupted, and Link is also the first one to see Zelda’s Sailcloth that she sowed for the ceremony. As if this wasn’t enough, when Link reveals that he hasn’t been practising, Zelda is thrown into a panic, frantically rushing the teen to the platform to get in some practise before the race. She accompanies Link when he goes behind the waterfall to search for his loftwing, and stands up for him when Groose and his cronies threaten him. They also play the role of the Goddess and her chosen hero after Link wins the Wing Ceremony, only to later learn that their role playing has come to life after Zelda gets dragged down to the Surface. Link races across the desolate land of Hyrule to save his friend, braving through many evils in an effort to retrieve her. He is absolutely crushed when Impa tells him that he failed to protect her because he couldn’t get to her fast enough, and is also distraught when he is forced to seal her in an era lost to the memory of time to protect her from a great evil.
Throughout the beginning portion of the game, the various NPC’s of Skyloft comment on how close Link and Zelda have been since they were kids, saying that the two were practically inseparable. Throughout Link’s adventure, we, the player, can constantly see how much saving Zelda means to him, especially when she is trapped in the past to ensure that Girahim can’t get to her. The expressions on his face as Zelda is being sucked to the surface by Girahim’s tornado are downright heart wrenching, and the moment he bangs on the glass in an effort to prevent Zelda from trapping herself is one of the game’s most heartfelt moments.
It is clear from the expressions and the dialogue shared between the two that we, the audience, are meant to interpret that Link and Zelda will be more than just friends, or at the very least, they harbour romantic feelings for one another. Perhaps the two strongest indicators of these feelings come from the beginning and end of the game. After Zelda and Link complete the Wing Ceremony, the two are flying around on Link’s loftwing when Zelda says,
“…Link? Today was amazing. Watching you win the race and performing the ritual
together… I’ll always remember this. It really was wonderful.
You know… Link…There’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about…”
The two are interrupted by Graham sucking Zelda to the surface, and throughout the entire game, we never learn what Zelda was about to say. However, after Demise is defeated, and Zelda proclaims that she is going to stay on the surface and rebuild the land, she turns to Link and asks what he’s going to do. Link merely smiles as the camera pans out, where we see Zelda’s and Link’s loft wings flying back to Skyloft, implying that Link chose to stay on the surface with Zelda. These two taken together heavily implies that Link and Zelda start a family, slowly repopulating the land of Hyrule, and with Skyward Sword being confirmed as the first chronological game in the Zelda timeline, it makes perfect sense.
The Appointed Knight and the Princess of Hyrule
In Breath of the Wild, we are introduced to a Hyrule that is on the verge of an invasion by Calamity Ganon, a form of the King of Evil that is nothing but a huge mass of negative energy. In order to combat the threat, the King of Hyrule and his daughter, Zelda, decide to name 5 skilled warriors to pilot their main weapons (called Divine Beasts) – one from each race of Hyrule. The Hylian Champion, Link, is chosen by the Master Sword, and the King decides that he shall be Zelda’s appointed knight, accompanying her wherever she goes and ensuring her protection. Zelda does not take kindly to this at all, viewing Link as a reminder of her own failure to master her own spiritual powers, due to him being seemingly randomly chosen by the blade of evil’s bane. Furthermore, Link not speaking at all causes her to think that Link despises her due to her inability to use her powers. Thus, a large part of their initial reactions are scornful and ill-tempered (mostly on Zelda’s part). However, when Zelda is on a visit to the Gerudo Desert, she encounters the Yiga Clan, who threaten to take her life. Without a second thought, Link swoops in and rescues her, disposing of her would-be assassin’s with relative ease.
As Zelda stares at the hero in awe, surprised that he risked his own life with no hesitation just for her, she realised that she had pegged Link wrong from the very beginning.
Soon after the incident, she apologises to him for the way she was treating him, and the two begin to open up to one another. Zelda finds out why Link is so quiet all the time: as he feels that everyone’s eyes are on him and that the fate of the kingdom is at stake, he has to be strong and bear any burden that comes his way. Zelda relates to this, having the burden of using her power to seal Calamity Ganon but not having any way to access the power, despite her actively trying. The two become very close friends, to the extent that once Calamity Ganon attacks and the other champions are killed, she openly weeps on Link’s shoulder, who comforts her. Later, when two Guardians have Link and Zelda backed into a corner, Link is ready to die in order to protect Zelda, but she pushes him aside right before he is hit and finally unlocks her powers, deactivating the guardians and saving Link, although the injuries he sustained cost him his life.
After Link is revived 100 years later, he slowly recalls his memories of the Princess through the course of his adventure. After Ganon is defeated, Zelda asks Link if he truly remembers her. The screen cuts to black and the credits roll, but if the player has collected all the hidden memories in the game, there is a short cutscene after the credits where Link and Zelda make preparations to go to Zora’s Domain in which they appear to be much more comfortable around one another, indicating that Link remembered everything from his past.
Link and Zelda’s relationship in these two games changes over the course of the narrative, going from strength to strength until they end up as steadfast companions to one another. As to which one of them leans more towards a potential romantic relationship, Skyward Sword edges out Breath of the Wild, but that’s not to say that there’s definitive proof that romance exists in one and not the other. In Skyward Sword, Link and Zelda were childhood friends, already having a very strong bond with one another even before they got swept up in the plot to revive Demise. Zelda in particular, seemed to harbour romantic feelings for Link; the almost-confession right before she gets whisked to the surface says enough, and Link seems to return the sentiment by choosing to stay on the surface with her. In Breath of the Wild, their relationship starts out as strictly professional, but grows into a blossoming friendship overtime, with the end result being that one was willing to sacrifice their life for the other. Now, while I’m not saying that this isn’t a romantic sign, its not made as clear, leaving more for the player to interpret whether Link was just doing his duty or if Zelda was saving the last hope against Calamity Ganon. Skyward Sword is far less ambiguous, offering the player a glimpse into the possible future of the two from the last shot of the game.
Ultimately, no matter the relationship status of Link and Zelda, they are ultimately designated the roles of the wielders of the Triforce of Courage and Wisdom respectively, and their destinies are always going to be intertwined with one another. With so many incarnations of their spirits, there is always bound to be one lifetime where they are romantically involved – we just haven’t seen it yet.