Romance may not be the number one thing some fans focus on in The Legend of Zelda series, but there are plenty out there that really do pay attention to it. That said, I decided to run through every game and see just how often Link actually does (or at least conceivably could) get the girl. Keep in the mind, the girl doesn’t always have to be Zelda, either.
I’ll go through the games in the order they were released and touch upon the endings, as well as Link’s possible relationships throughout the title. It should go without saying, but… spoiler alert.
The Legend of Zelda
The game that started everything doesn’t appear to have much in the way of relationships. Everything starts off with Ganon and his army invading Hyrule to get the Triforce. To keep him from getting the Triforce of Wisdom, Zelda breaks it into pieces and sends Impa to find a hero that can collect them all. Impa, an old woman, is later ambushed by some of Ganon’s army, and a young boy named Link saves her.
Impa requests that he go save Zelda and collect the Triforce pieces. He agrees, and then he saves the day, hero style.
The fact that this is an NES game isn’t why character development and relationships are limited. Rather, I believe those things are limited by the fact that this was the first game in a series that Nintendo had no idea would grow to become so wildly popular. That doesn’t keep the story or game from being entertaining, but there really isn’t much room for speculation here.
Link saves the day, and the game closes with him holding the Triforce of power next to Zelda holding the Triforce of wisdom. It isn’t that this is a bad ending; there just isn’t much to read between the young boy Link and the princess of Hyrule. Maybe they later fell in love, or maybe they didn’t.
The Adventure of Link
With a piece of its story taking place before The Legend of Zelda on the timeline, The Adventure of Link involves the same Link from the first game in the series. The hero was only 10 years old in the first game, according to the Hyrule Historia. At the age of 16, a Triforce crest appears on his hand, and Impa tells him the story behind a princess named Zelda I that is trapped in an eternal sleep.
She tasks the hero with collecting the Triforce of courage and waking up the princess. Why would Link decide to take on this additional adventure? Ganon is dead, and the kingdom of Hyrule is conceivably at peace once more. The reason Link decides to embark on the quest may be more simple than it appears. Was he bored? Unlikely. Was Zelda I necessary to the kingdom’s future? Probably not. We do have the Princess Zelda from the first game in a monarchial position.
I think the reason is Link saw a “beautiful” sleeping girl, and at the age of 16, maybe he was coming into his own. Hormones were kicking in, and he decided to go on a quest to wake up this gorgeous girl in front of him. Maybe Link’s just a nice guy, a perfect boy scout, and he couldn’t sleep at night knowing someone was in peril trapped in eternal slumber. I doubt it though. That’d make Link boring and without character flaws or a pinch of selfishness. Plus, I don’t think it makes him a horrible person to say, “Wow, she’s beautiful. I’d love to try and save her.”
That logic worked for Starfox Adventures with Fox and Krystal, and we all know how everyone loves that game, right?
Link ends up getting the Triforce of courage and waking up the slumbering princess (she must have some HIDEOUS morning breath after all that time though) at the end. The curtain starts to come down on the two, but before it does, we see Zelda kissing Link. Then, it finally draws to a complete close.
Fans don’t have to like that rushed romance at the end. Maybe some feminists consider it weak of Zelda to wake up and instantly fall in love with someone she doesn’t know, but I’m going to make the argument that it still happens.
Admittedly I don’t have much to go on with this, but I’m going to take the kiss as a sign that Link gets the girl here. He quested to save the girl, risked his life in the process, and she is moved by that when she learns the truth. As a result, I think the two end up together.
A Link to the Past
With the arrival of the Super Nintendo, fans were given A Link to the Past. Zelda, imprisoned by a priest named Agahnim, sends a telepathic message for help. Link and his uncle hear the message, and the heroes spring into action. Link’s uncle is killed, so his nephew takes his sword and heads to rescue the princess. He succeeds, and she sends him to get the Master Sword to defeat Agahnim.
This is the first game in the series where Link actually speaks with Zelda at the start of the game instead of simply meeting her for the first time at the end after saving her. While I think that’s a fascinating change in their relationship compared to the first two games in the series, I don’t know that it’s enough to show they have feelings for each other. Granted the kiss from Zelda at the end of The Adventure of Link along with her “You saved me; I love you” attitude is a little shallow in modern terms, it was still there.
Here, we get a bit more from Link and Zelda throughout the game, but I think based on what happens next in the timeline (the Oracle games), we can assume Link doesn’t get the girl at the end. Sure, he saves the kingdom but I think the real secret is in his wish. While we don’t get Link’s sentiments word for word, we know that his wish restores Hyrule to a state of peace before Ganon attacked. It also brings back everyone that disappeared or died as a result of Ganon and the Dark World. Maybe Link’s wish caused time to rewind. Perhaps he simply wished for all the damage to Hyrule to be undone. We may never know.
What we do know is that the king is resurrected, and Zelda’s role as a princess is restored with that resurrection. I think this places the princess in an untouchable role for Link. She’s royalty in a setting where the monarchy seems to be a really big part of this time period for Hyrule. I don’t believe he would have been allowed to have a relationship with her. He isn’t royalty, and she is. It’s an age-old tale of the princess and the lower-class boy. She’s truly out of his league.
In the first portable adventure for Link, we find the hero at sea in the middle of a st
orm. Lightning strikes his ship and renders the hero unconscious. When he wakes up, Link finds he is on the shore of Koholint Island. A girl named Marin had rescued Link and nursed him back to health. The only time Zelda is mentioned in the game is when Link mistakes Marin for his princess briefly.
Link sees Marin throughout the game many times, and I believe he could legitimately fall in love with her. She certainly seems to hold him to higher standard, permanently calling him “thief” if he steals from the store (though that’s not as bad as getting killed by the shopkeep). Keep in mind, this is the same Link from A Link to the Past. At the end of the Oracle games (we’ll get there, I promise), he sails away on a boat, the very same boat he starts out on in Link’s Awakening.
Still, even if Link and Marin do develop a relationship, it all ends up being moot in the end. Halfway through the adventure, Link learns that if he completes his quest (waking up the Wind Fish), the entire world will disappear. Knowing that crippling information, he makes a tough decision and wipes an entire island and population from existence. He wakes up in real life clinging to the wreckage of his ship, and Marin, along with the rest of Koholint Island, disappears forever. He can’t very well get the girl if she vanishes never to be seen again.
Ocarina of Time
The first 3D Zelda game, Ocarina of Time, brought many things to the Legend of Zelda series. Perhaps one of the most notable things added to the story was a split timeline. This added three separate but equally real endings to the game.
In one ending, Zelda sends Link back to his childhood, and the “adult” timeline continues onward without a hero. This would eventually lead to Wind Waker. I think Zelda and Link share a unique bond throughout the game, and to be honest, I believe they would have ended up together in the end…if it weren’t for her sending him back in time to regain his lost childhood. Link and Sheik fought together and were close allies. When Sheik was revealed to be Princess Zelda in disguise (oh boy, here come the arguing comments), I believe Link may have realized his feelings developing for her.
If they didn’t develop at that moment, I think they definitely did by the time Link and Zelda fight together to successfully seal Ganon in the Sacred Realm. Still, Zelda makes a decision (a stupid one in my opinion) and sends Link back in time. So, he doesn’t get to be with her in that ending.
In the “child timeline” ending, Link also doesn’t get the girl. He seals the Master Sword and Sacred Realm behind him, then goes and finds a young Zelda (who hasn’t technically met Link yet). He and Zelda then tell the king of Hyrule about Ganon’s treachery, and Link leaves to find Navi, ending up in Termina. He leaves behind Zelda behind.
The last timeline created, and ultimately the most depressing one, is that of Link dying at Ganon’s hand. This creates the “defeated” timeline, and a dead Link can’t fall in love or end up in any form of relationship with Zelda. [Editorial note: ZeldaInformer does not discriminate against zombies in any way, shape, form, or fashion. We do support zombie love.]
The romantic relationships for Link in this game are fairly straightforward, in that, there really are none. Link left Hyrule behind in Ocarina of Time to find Navi. If he and a young Zelda had any feelings for each other, they certainly don’t amount of anything real in Termina because the princes of Hyrule is only seen in a flashback, giving Link the Ocarina of Time.
Link only has three days to save the land, so romance is probably the last thing he’s thinking of. Besides, he spends so much time being other people like Darmani and Mikau, that some of the relationships he forms aren’t even his own.
I don’t think any less of Majora’s Mask because there aren’t really many romantic opportunities for Link, but I also can’t make them appear out of thin air. Couple the lack of romantic leads with the likely theory that Link dies in the end to become the Hero’s Shade, and the Hero of Time’s love life in the Ocarina of Time sequel is as dead as he eventually becomes.
Oracle of Ages/Seasons
I told you I would get to Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons. Sent to a strange land by the Triforce after A Link to the Past, Link must complete an entirely new adventure and eventually stop the sacrifice of Zelda to resurrect Ganon.
The ending of both games is really all that is needed to know that Link doesn’t get the girl in these titles either. Zelda and Impa both leave to go back to Hyrule, but Link sails away on a boat instead of going with them.
This leads to him getting caught in a storm and stranded in Link’s Awakening. In addition to us not getting any romance at the close of the tale, we also don’t get any definite ending for this Link. He completed three adventures in A Link to the Past, the Oracle games and Link’s Awakening, but after that, nobody knows what happens to him. Maybe he makes it back to Hyrule, perhaps he washes up somewhere else never able to return home, and alternatively, he may just drift at sea until he dehydrates and dies. [Disclaimer: ZeldaInformer does not accept any responsibility for depressing you in our articles.]
In perhaps the shortest Zelda game in existence, Four Swords features a Link and Zelda that already know each other. In fact, their relationship is deep enough, I believe, that she truly trusts Link with anything and everything.
When she senses a seal weakening that holds a powerful sorcerer named Vaati, she brings Link along to check it out because she truly trusts him. The seal is held in place by a magical blade called the Four Sword. When they arrive at the shrine of the Four Sword, Vaati snatches Zelda and takes her away, knocking out Link in the process.
When he wakes up, he is told by fairies to grab the Four Sword, so he does. The result is Link’s body being split into a total of four clones. They work together to seal Vaati back in the blade. After succeeding and placing the Four Sword back into its shrine, Zelda and Link leave the same as they arrived… together.
The hero and princess know each other before the game actually starts, which is what leads me to believe they end up together when the game ends. Zelda is usually a character that meets Link at
some point in the game, but here, they already know each other. They’ve clearly had time to get to know one another. Then, when Link saves Zelda at the end, I think that pushes the two even closer together. Thus, Link gets the girl.
Arguably, I believe Wind Waker features one of the best relationships between Link and Zelda in the entire series. The two meet each other at the start of the game as Tetra and Link. He saves her from a giant bird, then Tetra takes Link to the Forsaken Fortress to rescue his sister, Aryll.
In the middle of the game, Tetra learns that she is Princess Zelda, and she possesses the Triforce of Wisdom. From there, Link has to leave her behind so he can continue on his quest. Later, Ganon finds Zelda and kidnaps her for her Triforce piece.
Link fights Ganon at the end with a newly powered-up Master Sword, and Tetra even joins in the fight. After a rather gruesome killing of Ganon, Link and Zelda return to the surface world.
Link and Tetra spend so much time together in the game, and I really love watching their relationship grow. I think Tetra has a stubborn crush on Link the moment she is dropped onto his island. As Link’s adventure continues, they bump into each other again on Windfall Island. A clearly depressed Tetra believes Link to be dead, but when she notices him out of the corner of her eye, she notably perks up.
When Link finally does get to rescue his sister, he faces off against Ganon armed with the Master Sword. Because the blade has lost its ability to repel evil, Ganon easily bests Link in combat and almost kills him. Tetra steps in to save him and risks her life in doing so.
After Tetra learns that she is Princess Zelda, she becomes worried about her fate, and Link reassures her before he leaves that everything is under control.
During the final battle, the two risk everything to kill Ganon once and for all, and Link wouldn’t have been able to win without Tetra fighting by his side. Once Ganon is dead, a clearly worn-out Link clings to Tetra as King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule informs them that the old Hyrule will stay submerged beneath the waves. He also says the two will live on above the water in a new land that will become their own.
In the final scene of Wind Waker, Link and Tetra are shown leaving together for a new uncharted land. We know from the opening scene of Phantom Hourglass that Link eventually comes to stay with Tetra on her ship. I’m willing to wager the two even share a bedroom. Wind Waker is yet another title in the series where I’m going to say Link got the girl in the end, and it’s definitely one of my favorite games where that happens.
I’ve covered the first eight games released in part one of my editorial series, and I’ll finish off the remaining titles in part two.
[Editorial note: Keep in mind this is an opinion article, mine specifically. You don’t have to like my pairings or speculations. I’m not claiming anything I write in this article to be canon, just observations on my part.]
In which games do you think Link gets the girl?