Posted on March 21 2009 by Alex Plant
The following article contains descriptions of fanmade theories. It
only reflects the opinions of the writer and of the architects of said
theories, and not ZeldaInformer as a whole. That said, enjoy the
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was the first Zelda title with a true backstory beyond “the villain has taken over the kingdom; destroy him and save Hyrule.” It included a story that was to tell the origin of all princesses named Zelda. This story was
outlined in great detail in the instruction manual for The Adventure of
Link, set “when Hyrule was one kingdom,” but has been largely ignored
The “Legend of Zelda,” also called the “legend of the
sleeping princess,” begins with a great king who used the Triforce to
maintain order. The king eventually died, and his prince inherited only
part of the Triforce. Goaded by a court magician into finding the
missing Triforce, the prince interrogates his sister, the first
princess Zelda, who is rumored to have heard something about the
Triforce from the king before he died. She refuses to disclose anything
and so the magician in a fit of rage casts a sleeping spell on her. The magician is reported to have died on the spot once the spell was completed.
saddened by his sister’s curse, the prince places her sleeping body in
the North Palace on the northern continent and decrees that all future
princesses are to be named Zelda. This supposedly sets the stage for
future games by explaining why the name “Zelda” reappears so much
throughout Hyrule’s history.
In order to never forget this
tragedy, and to keep the memory alive, coming generations of girls in
the royal family were always to be named Zelda.
the secret Zelda knew about the Triforce was presumed to be the
location of the Triforce of Courage which was hidden by the king in the
Great Palace, where it remained until The Adventure of Link. This
“Sleeping Zelda” story stood alone with the original NES titles as the
whole of Zelda canon, and so there was no need to consider it in the
surrounding context. When A Link to the Past was released on the SNES,
the game was almost universally considered a prequel to the NES games,
and so most people decided that that game’s Zelda was the Sleeping
Zelda featured in the Zelda II backstory. This placement stood
unchallenged by much of the theorizing community for over twelve years
despite having absolutely no evidence aside from the following quote:
The predecessors of Link and Zelda face monsters on the march when a menacing magician takes over the kingdom.
only notable reference to the naming tradition appeared after those
twelve years, and is not universally considered as such. It appears in
The Wind Waker when the King of Red Lions, Daphnes, names Tetra as
Princess Zelda when it is discovered that she is a princess. This is
certainly at least a surface reference, but whether or not it is a
canonically significant reference or a mere homage is unknown. If it
is, that would mean the Zelda naming tradition predates the flood,
which makes sense if we consider that Ocarina of Time was supposed to
be the very first game in the series timeline, and thus would feature
the “first generation Zelda.”
The idea that Sleeping Zelda
predates The Wind Waker is based on two facts: first, that the princess
is referred to as “Zelda” in The Wind Waker purely by virtue of her
being a princess, as if it is taken for granted that this will be her
name; this suggests a naming tradition like the one in the Sleeping
Zelda backstory; and also that the Sleeping Zelda is called the “first
generation Zelda,” which suggests that she is the very first princess
to bear that name
The magician had heard something about the
King telling only the Prince’s younger sister, the first generation
Princess Zelda, about the Triforce before he died.
who hold fast to A Link to the Past‘s placement as a prequel to The
Legend of Zelda are also quick to discount the thought of the naming
tradition originating pre-Wind Waker, or even after Ocarina of Time‘s
Adult ending at all. However, given that the developers appear to have
given it some attention in the post-flood world, we should at least
consider how the tradition would fit in the pre-flood Hyrulean timeline.
Background for the theory: Relevant comparisons
On the Royal Family and the Triforce
Whereas the traditional
interpretation of the Sleeping Zelda story holds that the king “using
the Triforce” means he must physically possess it, this theory asserts
that instead the king of Hyrule has the divine guidance of the
The first inkling of a connection between the Royal
Family and the Triforce lies in the status of the Triforce mark as the
family’s crest. Triforce marks appear all over the world of Ocarina of
Time and latter games as a symbol of the Royal Family. This is probably
the case because the Royal Family has a special link to the
Triforce—they are the ones in charge of keeping the secret of its
location, and their sages keep it in their custody.
But the connection may be more than just one by proxy. Look at this quote from the Royal Composer Brothers:
brothers also served the Royal Family, and were assigned to study the
hereditary mystic powers of the family. Though we never could figure
out the power of the Triforce, we had almost completed our study of
controlling time with the tones of ocarinas.”
study of the power of music, the Composer Brothers tried to research
the Triforce as one of the Royal Family’s hereditary powers. This would
suggest that the Triforce and the Royal Family’s powers are connected,
if not one and the same.
But how could the Royal Family use the
Triforce if it is locked up in the Sacred Realm? One other game has
touched on the idea of the Triforce’s power guiding people from afar:
“The guidance of the Triforce has made you into this legendary hero!”
know, of course, that Link does not physically hold the Triforce in
Oracles—it is resting in Hyrule Castle. Elsewhere the power of the
Triforce is described as “divine protection.” And this guidance comes
with a sign, a Triforce mark on the back of the chosen one’s hand. We
know the Triforce mark indicates worthiness of the Triforce in other
games throughout the series, including, namely, The Adventure of Link,
where the mark appears on the back of the hand of the one destined to
unite the Triforce and become a great king—just like the Sleeping Zelda
On the concept of 分身
is described in the Japanese version of A Link to the Past as a bunshin
(分身) of Ganon’s. The closest English words to this are “alter-ego” and
“clone.” In the Zelda series, the idea of a “bunshin” effectively means
“soul split” or “replication.” This same word is used in Phantom
Hourglass to describe Ciela (bold is the transliterated Japanese,
unbold is the Nintendo of America English localization):
The spirits of Power and Wisdom were sealed by those monsters.
The spirits of Power and Wisdom were also imprisoned.
シエラは うまく分身して 逃げられたのじゃろう
But Shiera could escape by skillfully creating an alter ego (“bunshin”).
But Ciela managed to split her soul and escape.
Ciela was able to escape imprisonment by creating an alter-ego, we can
assume that Ganon was able to do the same in A Link to the Past to
escape the Sages’ Seal, thus creating Agahnim. Otherwise the game
states that the Sages’ Seal is impossible to “break” without the power
of the sages, although we see Link travel between worlds with the aid
of the Magic Mirror, so we know this not to mean that the seal is
On the Sages’ Seal
in the canon of The Wind Waker is the Sages’ Seal from Ocarina of Time
that shut the entrance to the Sacred Realm said or suggested to be
destroyed. To the contrary, Ganondorf was said to have been “revived
without reason” and the “seal of the gods” that sealed Ganondorf in
Hyrule, is said to be broken (and confirmed to be intact later, with
Ganondorf’s means of escape being revealed as a portal he created).
The exact text, for reader analysis, is here:
obtained the power of the gods, planned on transforming the world into
a Makai of darkness, and was sealed by the power of the gods. The
emperor of the Makai in the ancient legend is that Ganondorf. I do not
know why the gods’ seal has broken, but, now that he has been revived,
the world has once again begun to be threatened by his evil magical
the Master Sword bound Ganon while he was imprisoned in the Sacred
Realm then that seal might also qualify as the “seal of the gods” and
was likely in fact broken.
The original early Sleeping Zelda theory
“great ruler” who maintains peace in Hyrule must be the King of Hyrule
who ruled in Ocarina of Time. This is not a bad assumption, given that
Ocarina describes itself as taking place when “Hyrule was one kingdom,”
just as the Sleeping Zelda story does. The king is said to have
“maintained peace in Hyrule using the Triforce,” referring not to a
literal possession and use of the Triforce but to his status as the
protector of the land. By using his kingship, intimately tied to the
Triforce, to unify the kingdom, the king “maintains peace in Hyrule”
with the help of the Triforce, his divine guide.
prince must be the next in line to the throne, which therefore means
that Princess Zelda from Ocarina of Time has an older brother. He
inherits the Triforce “in part,” or as the Japanese text says,
“incompletely.” We know that the Triforce was divided at the end of
Ocarina of Time, so it should come as no surprise that rather than
inheriting custody of the entire Triforce, he only inherits “part.” We
see in The Wind Waker that the king does hold “part” of the
Triforce—the shard of the Triforce of Wisdom. The “prince,” then, could
be either Daphnes or a predecessor of Daphnes.
Zelda story remains precisely as is, with this background context
filling in the more vague parts of the tale, such as what “part” of the
Triforce fell to the prince. We must assume in this scenario that this
particular story does not feature the same king who hides the Triforce
in the Great Temple before The Adventure of Link. In this theory, that
king is either Daphnes (through his wish in The Wind Waker) or one of
his successors. The theory currently being presented is an expansion on
this original theory.
The Theory: Ganon is the villain of the Sleeping Zelda story
Sleeping Zelda story features a villain: the magician responsible for
the curse on the princess. This magician, as the text indicates, has a
clear interest in the Triforce, has apparently used the royal family as
a means of accessing the sacred relic, and is not above attacking the
family members for information about its location. This description
sounds rather like the descriptions of both Ganondorf’s role in Ocarina
of Time and that of Agahnim in A Link to the Past.
Ganondorf is a known criminal after Ocarina of Time, he cannot appear
in his own likeness and rally the king’s favor as the magician in the
backstory seems to have. Additionally, Ganondorf is still trapped in
the confines of the Sacred Realm by the Sages’ Seal and his evil power
remains bound by the Master Sword, so his only way out seems to be that
he should create an alter-ego to escape.
These similarities seem
suspicious, but nothing specific exists to link the magician to Ganon.
Poring deeper into the The Wind Waker texts, however, we find this
Do you sleep still? […] I can see this girl’s dreams…
Ganondorf can read Zelda’s dreams, associating him with the magician
from the Sleeping Zelda backstory sheds some insight as to why he cast
a sleeping curse when she would not disclose information about the
Triforce. Ganondorf intended to pry into her sleeping mind to ascertain
the information by force. This is enough of an association to warrant a
closer look at how the scenario might have functionally played out
prior to The Wind Waker, with Ganon as the magician.
describe how I relate the events in detail, some preliminary
assumptions must be outlined. These assumptions, while never explicitly
evidenced in the actual texts, are derived from things we see either
in-game or in other games.
Since Ganon was able to escape the
Sages’ Seal in A Link to the Past by soul-split, we can assume he was
able escape the same seal in the same way in Ocarina of Time. However,
one key difference between Ocarina Ganon and Link to the Past Ganon is
that the former has the Triforce of Power in his hand and the latter
used the Triforce to grant a wish. That is, the first Ganon has
unlimited access to the Triforce of Power, whereas the second only had
access to its power to grant a wish.
Thus, if Ganon can use his
Triforce’s power, he can create a portal to escape the Sages’ Seal just
as he did to escape the gods’ seal. But the Master Sword was used to
bind Ganon’s power even after he was cast into the Sacred Realm, so in
order to use the full measure of his powers he must first remove the
sword’s power to seal him.
The events themselves are a
combination of those spoken of in Wind Waker‘s backstory and the
Sleeping Zelda story, identifying an alter-ego of Ganon’s as the
magician and Daphnes as the prince. The Sages’ Seal keeps the Sacred
Realm entrances and exits locked so that they cannot be infiltrated,
and the seal cannot be broken without the power of the sages. Ganondorf
himself is bound by the Master Sword, which repels his evil power
including that of the Triforce of Power and prevents him from using it
to force his escape.
The Triforce of Courage was left behind by
Link when he traveled through time and left Hyrule. The only one who
knew what became of it was the King of Hyrule, the Great King spoken of
in legend. Prior to the infiltration of the Sacred Realm, the King had
maintained peace in Hyrule by unifying the kingdom and safeguarding the
Triforce, the source of Hyrule’s natural order.
When the Hero of
Time was called to embark on another journey and left the land of
Hyrule, he was separated from the elements that made him a hero.
than attempting vainly to infiltrate the Sages’ Seal by force,
Ganondorf splits his soul and creates an alter-ego which is able to
seep through the Sages’ Seal. He disguises himself as a magician and
attempts to get close to the King of Hyrule in an attempt to make a
move on Zelda in order to steal the Triforce of Wisdom. He learns that
the King knows what has become of the now-missing Triforce of Courage.
Sensing his impending death, the King tells Zelda about the Triforce of
Courage. Ganondorf, as the magician, questions the King of Hyrule in an
attempt to get the Triforce, but the King does not talk and falls
victim to a fatal curse cast by Ganon.
The prince, Daphnes, who
had expected to inherit everything, only inherits part of the Triforce
of Wisdom. The magician prompts him to search for the missing Triforce
of Courage. After learning that the King told Zelda something about the
Triforce before he died, Daphnes confronts Zelda, but like the King she
says nothing. In his rage, the magician places a sleeping
curse on Zelda in order to pry the information from her dreams.
tries to stop him, but to no avail. Zelda is put under an eternal
sleep. Ganon’s cover as a benevolent adviser to the king is blown, and
he disappears, being “thought” to have died. Zelda is enshrined in the
mountaintop palace north of Hyrule and Daphnes decrees that all
princesses shall be named Zelda in remembrance of the tragedy.
route to the Triforce of Wisdom is blocked, so he redirects his focus
and attacks the sages who maintain the Master Sword’s evil-repelling
light. With the sword’s magic gone, he now has full access to his
power, and uses it to create a portal to escape the Sacred Realm. He
launches a full-scale assault on Hyrule in order to find the missing
Triforce, and the events of the Great Flood happen.
Consistency issues and conclusions
this theory is not perfect or infallible, like any other Zelda-related
theory. It relies on accepting certain parallels as direct references
and using the mechanics of the Zelda-verse as seen in certain titles to
explain phenomenon in other titles. However, it maintains its basis in
canonical interpretation, and so I must insist on its validity as a
theory. I encourage readers however to question its veracity.
most glaring problem that might be noticed goes thus: later in the
Zelda II manual, we hear of someone who hid the Triforce of Courage in
the Great Palace to await the time when a new king would come and left
Power and Wisdom in the kingdom to be received. Reading the Zelda II
manual as its own individual work, the most direct conclusion would be
to consider the architect of these events to be the very same king who
ruled Hyrule with the Triforce during the Sleeping Zelda story. Thus,
it would seem that there is a problem with the early Sleeping Zelda
theory in that it does not allot for the king to have hidden the
Triforce of Courage in this way.
Of the three, I have left Power and Wisdom in the kingdom. But the Triforce of Courage I have hidden for a reason.
the more recent games, however, we see that no game has provided any
context for the Sleeping Zelda story to proceed as apparently
originally intended. No game ends with anyone who could qualify as the
“first” Zelda existing alongside a king who gains the entire Triforce
and a prince to whom part of the Triforce could be handed down.
will appeal to A Link to the Past, saying that Link united the Triforce
in the ending of that game, thus explaining how the Triforce came to be
complete in Hyrule for The Adventure of Link‘s backstory. However, no
substantial connection can be drawn between the Triforce and the royal
family from that game, either in the case of the king or of the prince.
The only game to present a king possessing any of the Triforce
to date has been The Wind Waker, and he does not seem to have left
“part” of the Triforce for a prince—there does not seem to be any room
for a “prince” to speak of at all as Tetra-Zelda is the only surviving
member of the royal family.
It should be noted that while this
theory would explain the names of almost every Princess Zelda in the
series, it fails to explain the name of Twilight Princess‘s Zelda.
However, unless the Sleeping Zelda was to predate Ocarina of Time,
which most would probably argue cannot be the case, this is a necessary
problem for at least one of the prongs of the “split timeline.”
would therefore seem it is impossible for a theory about the placement
of the Sleeping Zelda to utilize the fullness of the original intent.
All theories must either renounce the king’s act of hiding the Triforce
in the Great Palace as being part of the Sleeping Zelda story or they
must deny that the Sleeping Zelda is the very first. Any theory
regarding Zelda II‘s backstory that does not include Daphnes in The
Wind Waker must assume that the king who hides the Triforce received it
in an event that is as of yet unwitnessed and unreferenced.
theory bases itself in the king’s possession of the Triforce in The
Wind Waker, both in part when he holds the shard of the Triforce of
Wisdom and in full when he wishes on the Triforce in the game’s ending.
Thus, it provides substance to support its placement of the Sleeping
Zelda myth, when a prince held the Triforce “in part” and of the hiding
of the Triforce of Courage, when a king held the Triforce in full and
left the parts to be used as a “light of hope.”
Let a ray of hope shine on the future of the world!
may reject the Daphnes quote shown above as evidence of a connection
between the King of Red Lions and the scroll writer. The original
Japanese, they argue, does not use the phrase “ray of hope” at all, but
instead says that the people should have a “bright future.” Thus there
is no evidence at all of a connection between Wind Waker‘s endgame
scenario and The Legend of Zelda‘s story arc.
that Nintendo of America’s localization team, the one responsible for
bringing us the alternate language versions of the games, to use the
words of their supervisor, Bill Trinen, “know and adhere to the
timeline.” If Nintendo of America’s version indicates a more blatant
connection between games, this is not without reason, despite
discrepancies with the Japanese texts. For example, in Twilight
Princess, Trinen stated that his team was trying to “maintain
references to the Imprisoning War,” references which in the Japanese
version of the game were extremely watered-down but in the English
version were fresh and intact. As head of localization, Trinen
certainly has some wiggle room to apply his knowledge of the series to
his translations of the game script, and that would be true of Wind
Waker‘s ending as well.
Others will object to this theory’s
interpretation of the king’s use of the Triforce to maintain peace. The
story cannot refer to simply inheriting the divine blessing of the gods
and thus keeping order and balance in so doing, these theorists say—it
must involve the king actively using the physical Triforce’s powers to
ensure that providence is upheld. But poetic description of Hyrule’s
relationship to the Triforce is nothing new to the series—despite
resting in the Sacred Realm, “another world” as described in A Link to
the Past, the Hyrule of legend is the “land where the power of the gods
is said to sleep.” Hyrule’s relationship to the Triforce has always
been largely symbolic, and there is no reason why its monarchy’s
connections to the sacred relic cannot be also.
have cited time and again, from Toru Osawa all the way to the
mastermind, Eiji Aonuma, that the overarching chronology of the Zelda
series operates through references and “pseudo-secrets” that will only
be recognized by veteran players. Regardless of how the Sleeping Zelda
story fits into the timeline and how traditional views depict the
events, this theory seeks to assign it a greater position in the Zelda
canon than as a spiritual origin story. What other theories pass off as
meaningless homages to the classics this theory elevates as direct
reference. It fills in the background of the plot of Zelda II with
intricate connections to The Wind Waker‘s characters and uses these
connections to flesh out the overarching story.