The Legend of Zelda remains one of the biggest game franchises to this day, and it’s not hard to see why. The game was inspired by Miyamoto’s adventures outdoors as a young child, and led him to create the vast and expansive world of Hyrule. Full of whimsical beings, goddesses, and monsters, there are countless journeys one can take in this fictional wonderland.
The land of Hyrule has been present since the beginning, and we’ve seen various versions of it over the years. This has led some people to theorize that they’re all the same Hyrule, just in different places throughout time. After years and years of asking and placing things together, Nintendo finally confirmed this. The land of Hyrule is indeed one world, and we’ve just been seeing it in specific time periods.
After Nintendo confirmed this, they began to build new Zelda games with this in mind. Naturally, we got to see many origin stories, legends to play through, and the results of cataclysmic events. There’s so much to explore in the land of Hyrule, and so many more things we want to know.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is going to continue this trend by hinting at “something that happened 100 years in the past.” Whatever that may be, this new game will likely expand upon the world of Hyrule and give plenty for fans to sink their teeth into. In anticipation of that game, we’ve compiled some interesting facts about Zelda’s world of Hyrule.
15. Three Timelines
When people first began piecing Zelda games together, they realized that the only logical way for them to exist was if there were two separate timelines, each spurred on by the events of Ocarina of Time. One timeline is where Child Link continues his adventures, and another is where the Zelda from the future rebuilds Hyrule after the defeat of Ganon. Nintendo eventually confirmed this, but with the release of Hyrule Historia actually stated that there are instead three different timelines. The third timeline was a reality in Ocarina of Time where Link was actually killed by Ganon. As such, these three timelines have factored into the stories that took place in the different games. Twilight Princess takes place in the Child Link timeline, Wind Waker and its sequels take place in the Zelda Timeline, and the original NES The Legend of Zelda takes place in the Fallen Hero timeline. The convenience of having three separate timelines is that the creators can essentially go any direction they want to with their future games. While it seems like they’re making it up, it’s still an interesting mythos to dig into nonetheless.
14. Some Characters Reappear
While it’s no secret that Link and Zelda are continually reincarnated to fight malicious forces that threaten Hyrule, reappearances don’t stop there. As a matter of fact, there are many times where certain side characters appear in more than one game, kind of throwing a stick into the massive gears of continuity. While it’s unclear how this occurs, as no reincarnation has been stated, it is at least a nice piece of familiarity when playing a new Zelda game. For example, the weird character Tingle appears in both Majora’s Mask and The Wind Waker (though you could attribute that to them being part of two separate timelines). The merchant Beedle from The Wind Waker is also rumored to appear in Breath of the Wild, leading to some speculation about its place in the timeline. On top of that, many enemies from the series often reappear throughout games from different and similar timelines. They are often related to Ganon’s resurrection, so it could even be a direct result of that. Either way, it’s a strange piece of information that leads to some interesting questions about the Zelda timeline. Expect to see more familiar faces when Breath of the Wild comes out in March.
13. The Dead Rise Every Night
There are a lot of amazing sights to behold in Hyrule, but everything exists in balance. There is no excellence without inadequacy. This too is true for the world of Hyrule. Particularly, in Ocarina of Time, the world becomes particularly dangerous during the nighttime. Just after you’ve finished off King Dodongo in Death Mountain, you will often find yourself walking along Hyrule Field. It’s nothing short of a nightmare as random skeletons begin popping out of the ground to challenge you. While they’re not particularly hard, they’re tough to deal with for their sheer numbers alone. What makes this even more terrifying are the implications- if the dead are spontaneously rising every night, then Hyrule Field must be some kind of horrible graveyard. Was it the result of some ancient war? Did Ganon torture his souls and then do away with the leftover bodies? It’s a strange tale either way you look at it, but this would go on to serve as a big problem when the forces of evil would work together in Hyrule Warriors. There was almost no end to the undead armies flooding your troops.
12. Ganon Was Not The Original Evil
Ganondorf (or Ganon depending on which game you play) is one of the greatest villains in video game history. He’s both terrifying as well as a good challenge for the end of your journey. He always manages to reincarnate himself in order to rule Hyrule again, but the Hero Link will always be there to stop him. However, how exactly did Ganondorf come to be? While this remained a serious question for many years, Nintendo finally gave us the answer in 2011’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In it, Ganon did not appear to challenge our heroes, but instead the final conflict was against a being known as Demise. Right off the bat, it’s clear that he bears a striking resemblance to the Demon King. Lo and behold, once you defeat him, he states that while he may be gone, his spirit will forever live on and he would constantly reincarnate himself in order to conquer Hyrule once more. Furthermore, Demise was also the source of all of the terrible demons that would plague this fictional world. From then, it was clear that Demise was reincarnated multiple times in the form of Ganon. How about that for having your mind blown?
11. Multiple Zeldas
While it’s no secret that Zelda is continuously reborn throughout the ages (and that her name is on the title of the series), some more interesting things have happened throughout the timeline. In the NES The Legend of Zelda, Link seeks to restore the Tri Force, stop Ganon, and rescue the Princess Zelda. After accomplishing this, the timeline goes straight into Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. In this game, Link had heard that Princess Zelda had fallen under a deep sleep, and he alone could awake her. What is seemingly a normal video game plot gets a bit different when it’s revealed that this Zelda is not the same Princess Zelda that was introduced in the NES classic. This version of Zelda, according to the elderly Impa, was a version of the Princess who had been alive hundreds of years before the events of the NES games took place. Link then sets out on a quest to awaken the sleeping Princess, as well as finding the Tri Force of Courage, which was the object that indirectly got her cursed in the first place. Apparently, all of the other royal princesses were named Zelda because of her fabled slumber.
10. One World Was Created In A Dream
Hyrule is no stranger to weird or bizarre concepts, some of them being strangely magical in the process. The best example of this is seen in the Gameboy game, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. This game takes place after A Link To the Past and showcases our green clad hero on a journey to sharpen his sword fighting skills. This leads him outside of Hyrule, which should disqualify it from this list. However, Koholint Island contains many strange similarities and connections that would thread it with Hyrule, so I feel it deserves mention here. He finds himself cared for by a girl named Marin, who bears a striking resemblance to Princess Zelda. He then discovers that the only way to get home is by awaking the guardian of the island, the Wind Fish. After a long and treacherous journey, Link eventually finds this creature. However, the Wind Fish explains to Link that Koholint doesn’t exist and that it’s all part of their dreams. Regrettably, Link decides to wake the Wind Fish and himself up, despite having grown fond of the people of Koholint. He is then found drifting at sea.
9. Three Goddesses Created Hyrule
Ocarina of Time was a game-changer for much of the Zelda lore, and the biggest piece of information we got was a powerful origin story. Apparently, three goddesses, Din, Nayru, and Farore, were the ones who formed the continent that would eventually become what is now known as Hyrule. As in many real-world religions, these goddesses are perceived to be eternal and omnipotent. Each of them created a different aspect of the world, and would be credited for said achievement. Eventually, the three of them imbued their attributes of Wisdom, Courage, and Power into an object called the Tri Force, which they left behind after they ascended from Hyrule. A fourth goddess remained on the world to protect the Tri Force, but we’ll get to her a bit later. To this day, their influence on the Zelda series is still prominent and worth noting. Oftentimes, you will hear characters make reference to these goddesses, and many abilities Link acquires throughout his journey are directly related to them. The three of them appoint the hero Link throughout the various generations of Hyrule, and have been known to intervene when there is no hero to guide them.
8. Time Periods Have Crossed Over
One great aspect of having multiple stories and versions of characters take place over multiple timelines is that if you want to bring them together, you can do that. The first obvious instance of this is in the Super Smash Bros. series, where you could play as Adult Link and Young Link in the same game (though he would later be replaced by the Wind Waker version of Link). However, the bigger example has to be in the Wii U/3DS games, Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors Legends. These games feature all-stars (and lesser-known characters) from the massive Zelda universe all coming together as playable fighters in order to stop the forces of evil. You can play as just about every version of Link you can think of, and also as characters that appeared in different games altogether, such as Darunia and Skull Kid. While Aonuma has stated that Hyrule Warriors is not canon, there is a lot of evidence suggesting that the events take place in a dimension where each of the different characters have been able to appear. Make of it what you will, but you can’t deny that being able to play as so many familiar faces in Hyrule is quite awesome.
7. Many Alternate Dimensions Exist
On the subject of different dimensions, I find it worth nothing that the world of Hyrule is not the only plane of existence throughout the series. There are in fact a number of alternate realities that can be accessed and explored in the various games. First, there’s the Twilight Realm from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This realm is home to a strange race of people and was where Ganondorf was originally banished before the events of the game took place. The world is very distorted and showcases a much different aesthetic. Another alternate dimension comes in the form of Lorule from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. This dimension is practically a copy of the land of Hyrule, except it’s much darker and more sinister than what we’re used to. In that world, the Tri Force was actually destroyed in an act of desperation, which only made the state of their universe that much worse. Thanks to the interference of Zelda and Link, however, Lorule is brought back to the light so that it may prosper once more.
6. Hyrule Has Fallen Before
Another great aspect of having multiple timelines is that you get to explore many “what ifs.” After the events of Ocarina of Time, we’re going to focus on the Zelda timeline. In that line, Link was sent back to the past, and there was no hero to protect them after Ganon was defeated. Eventually he managed to return, but because there was no hero, he managed to control Hyrule. The people then prayed fervently to the goddesses, who heard them. They instructed the people to climb to the tops of the mountains because they would cause a great flood to wash away the evil. They followed through, and the land of Hyrule was completely flooded, leaving only mountaintops as small islands for people to live in. This may sound familiar to you, as it is the tale of The Wind Waker. In that game, it is shown that Ganon survived the flood and still lived to terrorize the people. Eventually, you come across a portal that brings you to a much more classic version of Hyrule, where Link kills Ganon and the King of Red Lions floods the entire place. It’s a sad moment to see the history be washed away, but it’s a triumphant moment nonetheless.
5. Link Forged The Master Sword
In terms of world building, there are no Zelda games more interesting than Skyward Sword. Because it was the 25th anniversary, Nintendo decided to give origins to a lot of existing traditions in the mythos. One such origin was for the Master Sword. We all know it as the Bane of Evil and the legendary blade that makes you hit twice as hard. It is almost always necessary to defeat Ganon. It was also necessary to defeat the demon Demise. At the time, though, there was no Master Sword- it had yet to be created. So what does our hero Link do? He creates the Master Sword himself, of course, acquiring all the right parts and pieces in order for it to be the best blade in the history of Hyrule. Furthermore, the sword also contains the spirit of that game’s companion, Fi, which makes the sword that much stronger. It’s a cool thought to be playing older games with this knowledge in mind, knowing that a past Link created it and his partner’s spirit rests within the metal.
4. Zelda Is A Goddess
Here is where I bring up Skyward Sword again. Let me jump a few steps backward first. When the three goddesses ascended after creating Hyrule, one of them stayed behind. Her name was Hylia, and she guarded the Tri Force. However, when Demise rose to steal the Tri Force, she knew she had to act quickly. She created Fi, the spirit that lives in the Master Sword, and separated her people from Demise by creating Skyloft. She then chose to give up her immortality to become a human who held one of the Tri Force pieces. Once she was reborn as a mortal, her name was Zelda. Because she is protected with the spirit of a goddess, Zelda would forever be reincarnated throughout the history of Hyrule, similar to how Demise is constantly resurrected through Ganon. During the events of Skyward Sword, we see Zelda remember her true purpose as the goddess Hylia and assists Link and Fi to bring down Demise and Ghirahim once and for all. Her victory would only be the first of many battles though, as those events only set the stage for all the adventures that would surely come after it.
3. There Was A Civil War
Despite there being a number of Zelda games that expand on the history of Hyrule, there’s still quite a bit that we don’t know. For starters, there was a comic where Link’s father explained how there was once a brutal civil war in Hyrule, and that it took place for quite some time. In the timeline, this war takes place very shortly before the events of Ocarina of Time, and it’s important because it leads into how we open the game with Link in the Kokiri Forest. During the war, a mother fled with her baby boy in an attempt to survive and left him with the Great Deku Tree, where he would remain and be raised. This child would eventually become the Hero of Time we know as Link. Not much else is known about the Hyrulean Civil War, but there are a few more threads present in the games. For instance, Twilight Princess talks about how the Twili (the people of the Twilight Realm) could have accidentally caused it, but that’s all mere speculation at this point. Perhaps we’ll get some kind of game in the future that finishes that story for us, but we’ll have to wait and see.
2. A Different Ganon Existed
As Nintendo began creating the Zelda timeline, many people wondered if they were simply making it up as they went along. Obviously, there are many points to support this. One said point involved Twilight Princess and Four Swords Adventures. While it was previously thought that Four Swords Adventures took place right after Four Swords, it was revealed that this was not the case, and that it instead took place after Twilight Princess. The problem with this is that Ganon was the final boss in that game, but he couldn’t really be because Ganon had been killed at the end of Twilight Princess. The way that Nintendo managed to cope with this was establishing that the Ganon seen at the end of Four Swords Adventures is not the same Ganon that contended with Link, Zelda, and Midna. This is in fact a different version of the character, but filled with the same desires. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t make the most sense, and the game probably would’ve fit more if Nintendo kept it in line with Four Swords, but it’s an interesting thing to think about for future games.
1. Link And Zelda Established Hyrule Twice
In Skyward Sword (yes, again), we get to see the origin of Hyrule, among many other Zelda staples. At the end of the game, when everything is fine and dandy, we see how Link and Zelda establish a new kingdom and call it Hyrule. This in fact serves as the origin for the world that the rest of the games take place in, but that’s the only time they do this. At the end of Wind Waker, it is seen that the remains of Hyrule were washed away by the flood. However, in the sequel game Spirit Tracks, Link and Zelda set out to find new land to rebuild the old kingdom as new once more. This kingdom came with its own set of problems to solve and monsters to fight, but our dynamic duo eventually got to create it and named it New Hyrule. This timeline is a little bittersweet though, as it was revealed that Spirit Tracks was so far down the line that the royal bloodlines were nearly bred out, signaling a new era for Hyrule and the characters in it. Despite its sadness, it could lead to some of the most creative games ever made.