One of the most popular and prevailing theories in the Zelda kingdom today is the Link is Dead theory, which stems from Link dealing with purgatory and the acceptance of his death during the events in Majora’s Mask. In other words, Majora’s Mask never happened, as it was a twisted part of Link’s own mind in purgatory as he went through the five stages of grief, eventually accepting his own death.
This theory, as far as we’re aware, has been mentioned in passing several times over the last handful of years, but its earliest roots stem from an editorial here at Zelda Informer – the 5 Stages of Grief in Majora’s Mask. The editorial itself doesn’t say Link is dead – rather it talks about the people of Termina and how they are dealing with the constant and obvious impending death around them, and how Link is there to save everyone (or as many as he can) from it. Still, with a few logical conclusions and a stretching of these themes, it is easily and quickly turned into a theory about purgatory.
This theory was made extremely popular by MatPat from Game Theory. He did an entire video feature on it and it does make a really compelling argument. Here it is, for those who may be rusty or really curious what exactly the Link is Dead theory actually is:
Now that we’ve established what this theory is and where the roots if it started, I’m here to tell you why the Link is Dead theory specifically is just a bunch of mumbo jumbo – an over-analyzing of a singular game that ignores both in-game factual evidence and all canon material as released and presented by the people who not only make the entire The Legend of Zelda game series, but Majora’s Mask in particular.
Termina is a Confirmed Parallel World
Oftentimes, when I converse with fans about this theory and I explain that Majora’s Mask takes place in a parallel world, I am told there is no evidence to suggest this. Outside of the fact that it can easily be argued Link stepped through a warp portal in that tree as he fell, and warping is indeed something that exists in the series (we can even teleport through time), the people who actually created the game have given us several confirmations of this being a parallel world.
Here are a handful of examples:
Source: Hyrule Historia. Maybe you think this is a fact that was changed over time, meaning that originally the concept for the game could have been Link’s death. Just to clarify that this game always took place in a parallel universe, here is an excerpt from the original N64 Manual:
So, why does this distinction matter? Parallel worlds exist in the Zelda kingdom (the entire timeline split is proof of this), and in order to be a parallel world, one has to accept that it’s real. The idea of Link struggling in his mind to accept death would infer that the world of Termina doesn’t actually exist – sort of making it a dreamlike state. Of course, Eiji Aonuma recently explained that Link is not dreaming during Majora’s Mask. Thus, Termina does exist.
Link’s Bloodline Lives on Past Majora’s Mask, Hero’s Shade isn’t a Stalfos
For this I am combining two points into one, because they are partially related, since they both deal with Twilight Princess. For starters, according to Hyrule Historia, Link in Twilight Princess is a blood relative of Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Here is the quote:
This is important to note because unless Nintendo is comfortable with Link procreating while he was a mere child before the events in Majora’s Mask (presumably doing so with yet another child), he has to have lived on past the events in Majora’s Mask so he could become an adult.
In addition, if Link died in the Lost Woods as a child, he would have been turned into a Skull Kid, not a Stalfos, as the Stalfos designation is for adults. Even then, the Hero’s Shade isn’t a Stalfos to begin with – he actually more closely resembles other spirits that are in
Twilight Princess, but only seen while in the Twilight Realm. Basically, The Hero’s Shade is the spirit of The Hero of Time clad in armor, and in order for Link to exist in Twilight Princess there had to have been procreation, meaning Link became an adult.
All of this ignores the fact that Link has navigated the Lost Woods many times in the past, so it’s already hard pressed to assume he can’t find his way out of it, even without a fairy.
Link Could Survive the Fall
The Link is Dead theory has Link dying when he falls through the tree, with the logic that Link couldn’t possibly survive the fall. However, based on how long he is actually falling, Link survives falls in
Ocarina of Time that are of much greater distance. This is without counting the fact he lands on a Deku Flower. In Majora’s Mask, you take zero fall damage when you land on a Deku Flower, no matter the height you fall from.
The end of Majora’s Mask Shows Link Alive, Back in the Lost Woods
There are two specific events at the end of
Majora’s Mask that already prove Link is alive after he is done in Termina. One is when the Happy Mask Salesman tells Link that he should be returning home. This doesn’t sound like an omen of acceptance of death; were that the case, wouldn’t “home” refer to the place he came from, rather than the place he is going?
Then, right at the end of the credits, Link is shown back in the Lost Woods where he began his journey at the start of the game, this time not stopped by Skull Kid and able to ride on.
The evidence seems rather clear, and there is likely a lot more evidence one could come up with if they want to dive deeper. I didn’t touch upon the 5 Stages of Grief, because that in that if itself is just a fan theory to begin with. Instead, I tried my best to stick to facts that have come both from the developers and within the games themselves.
Reality is that Link isn’t dead during Majora’s Mask. While it’s a fun thought and certainly makes the entire experience darker, reality is stacked against it. You can obviously choose to still believe it, just know that it goes entirely against the developer’s intent and the actual in-game evidence. All “proof” is based off over analyzing and guesswork while conveniently ignoring very pointed facts that don’t fit the theory.