Any video game player worth their weight in hours of boss battles and sore thumbs can tell you that that the titular character in The Legend of Zelda game series does not necessarily get the attention that she deserves. While the game series has had a lasting impact over the years since its initial release in 1986 and remains one of Nintendo's most successful franchises, this is all largely due to the main character, Link, and his escapades as he assists Zelda and often saves both her and the Kingdom of Hyrule. Yes, as many of us are too well familiar, Zelda is usually sidelined in her own series.
Still, none of this means that Princess Zelda isn't incredibly interesting all on her own. It's actually kind of surprising that Zelda hasn't gotten her own game yet. After all, she's a fleshed-out character with a lot of potential, and she's actually more powerful than Link when it comes to her background and magical abilities.
Even though Breath of the Wild still had the princess in a supporting role that didn't quite break all the conventions it promised, it nevertheless gave players a more multidimensional, analytical, intelligent Zelda. And guess what! It went on to be the top-selling Zelda game of all time, and it even won the prestigious Game of the Year award for 2017. Imagine what a totally rule-breaking, Zelda-focused game could do (hint, hint, Nintendo).
We'll continue to wait for a Zelda-led Zelda game, but in the meantime, let's discuss the crazy, intricate details of her design that continue to make the character so intriguing to this day. Here's The Legend Of Zelda: 20 Wild Details About Zelda's Anatomy.
20 She Is A Demigod
Zelda isn't exactly your normal, everyday Hylian, and that's not just because she's a princess who seems to constantly find her way into trouble. The character is actually, in more words or less, a demigod. This goes back to the early timelines of the video game series, where it was established that Zelda is a descendant of the Goddess Hylia. In other words, she's essentially a demigod.
Like many of her female ancestors before her, Zelda is the crown princess not by chance, but precisely because she carries the divine blood of the goddess. She is also named after her, as Hylia was (by her own volition) reborn as a mortal and took the name Zelda. Ever since, the Royal Family of Hyrule has had a habit of naming their daughters Zelda. It makes us wonder just how much pressure there must be when you're a young Hyrulian princess with this name!
19 She Is A Reincarnation
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, hang on to your hats because things are about to get weird. As loyal players already know, it's an established fact in the world of Zelda that Princess Zelda in one game is not necessarily the same Zelda in another. This is because every Zelda is essentially a reincarnation, and each game just takes place at a different point in time in their world. Link is meanwhile a corresponding reincarnation in most of these time periods, though both Zelda and Link have been in decades-long comas that have resulted in a Zelda from a previous age being paired up with a more modern Link and vice versa. It's like Westworld on steroids, only the steroids are magical and known as the Tri-Force.
Yeah, it's still a bit confusing even for those who have played all of the games. The full timeline (complete with alternate timelines) can be found here on the Zelda website, though it should be noted that the page has not been updated to include Breath of the Wild or 2018's Hyrule Warriors (though the latter is openly supposed to be outside of the official timeline anyway).
18 She Has Magical Powers
As a character who is both a reincarnation of and descended from a goddess, Zelda's got some powers. Most incarnations of the princess have powers that are of the psionic type-- telekinesis, precognition, and even teleportation-- but she can also manipulate magic and has displayed the power of healing on multiple occasions. Adding to her plethora of powers, the Ocarina of Time Zelda even completely transformed her appearance in order to hide from Ganon.
Interestingly, one of the most powerful versions of Zelda to date is the one featured in Super Smash Bros (she was first added to the Super Smash lineup in 2001). This Zelda is meant to fight, and fight she does. Her most powerful moves are spells that inflict great damage on her foes, the main three being aptly named after the three goddesses of Hyrule: Din (Din's Fire), Nayru (Nayru's love) and Farore (Farore's wind). Sure, Link gets to use these in 1998's Ocarina of Time, but in Super Smash, it's Zelda's time to shine. That, and explode things with giant fireballs.
17 She Looks Like Other Hylians
Despite her ancestry that is both royal and magical, Zelda has the same general physical characteristics of other Hylians. Sure, the truth is there's not much going on here beyond fair features and sets of long, pointy ears.
However, her relatively normal appearance makes total sense for someone who is either a descendant or a full reincarnation of the goddess Hylia (remember, we're dealing with multiple Zeldas here), seeing as the goddess herself is depicted as a normal-looking woman in statues recurring throughout the series. Granted, statues of Hylia are often shown with a set of wings, but the fact remains that most incarnations of Zelda are just Hylian princesses with some extraordinary divine gifts.
16 Her Eyes Are (Almost) Always Blue
In every incarnation except for the handful of ones where all the characters just had simple black dots for eyes (hey, the animation in 2015's Tri Force heroes was fun!), Princess Zelda has been shown with blue eyes. At first, this doesn't seem all that significant, but it's pretty interesting when we take into consideration the fact that these are all different Zeldas over time who have somehow ended up with the same eye color despite other basic variations in appearance (more on that in the next section). Making things even more interesting, however, is that fans of the series have been hotly debating the character's eye color in 2017's Breath of the Wild. As seen in message boards across the internet (here's a great example), many players believe the princess’ peepers look green for the first time ever, while others insist that they are still blue but might only appear green in certain light settings. No official word on this from the game's creators (yet), but if they are indeed green, we as players should be asking ourselves if it really matters.
Nevertheless, there's entirely different debate over the version of Zelda that is disguised as Sheik. First seen in Ocarina of Time, Sheik has noticeably red eyes. However, the reason for this could simply be because she is using magic to transform herself.
15 Her Hair Has Been Blonde, Brunette, And Red
Zelda's hair is blonde, right? Not necessarily. While the princess is indeed most commonly depicted as a blonde, different incarnations of her over the years have had different shades of blonde and even different hair colors entirely. For example, she's a brunette in 2006's Twilight Princess, which interestingly corresponds with Link's hair also being darker in the game. And as far as the original games go, the very first Zelda that was introduced to players in 1986's The Legend of Zelda had reddish brown hair, and the Zelda seen in 1987's The Adventures of Link had distinctly red hair.
What does this all mean? Most likely, it's nothing more than the Zelda designers playing around with the character and depicting her as they see fit for each game. Yet as we've seen with Zelda's eye color, there are entire message boards devoted to this subject, with some players saying that the brunette princess comes across as more serious. Stereotype much? Alas, this is the world of video games, and this world hasn't exactly been free of controversy over the years.
14 Her Hair Is Always Long
Just as Zelda's most common features are blonde hair and blue eyes, her long locks are even more her signature look. No matter what shade it is, the character's hair is always shown to be long and usually flowing, though sometimes it is depicted as tied back or braided. Nevertheless, the most recent Zelda game almost featured a very different-looking princess.
For Breath of the Wild, game designers played around with the idea of depicting Zelda with short hair or even longer hair woven entirely up close to her head (to give the appearance of a short look). But as anyone who has played the game already knows, the designers ultimately they went with the traditional route. Perhaps they felt the character would be too unrecognizable without her long hair? Still, the concept art for the Breath of the Wild version of Zelda and other features in the game is pretty interesting. It can be viewed here.
13 She Was Once Turned To Stone
What's a princess without an undergoing a curse here and there? In 2004's The Minish Cap, Zelda is turned to stone by the power-hungry wind mage, Vaati, who feels threatened by her. It's a storyline that's actually pretty reminiscent of traditional fairy tales from centuries ago (think Brothers Grimm), and it stayed true to the original tone of the series. Also, Zelda turning to stone is arguably the most dramatic transformation she's made to date.
Of course, as players already know, Zelda gets turned back into her regular form and then, being the powerful being that she is, is able to use the Minish Cap herself to set everything back to normal and then destroy the Cap itself. Way to go, Zelda!
12 There Was That Time She Was Basically A Ghost
Anyone who has played 2009's Spirit Tracks knows just how powerful Zelda can be, including when she’s not in her own body! While she’s not technically a ghost in this game, she may as well be. The princess’ spirit becomes separated from her body by the evil Chancellor Cole, and he subsequently steals her body to use it for more evildoing. But this is Zelda we're talking about, and she's not one to let not having a body get in the way of her taking action.
This is also one of the more effective Zeldas to be featured in a game, and while Link is still the hero she helps him throughout. Not only does the bodyless princess still effectively communicate with Link as a spirit, but she is also able to inhabit phantoms and do some crazy cool things like roll giant wrecking balls, teleport, light torches and even just be impervious to most forms of damage. You go, ghost girl!
11 Her Body Holds A Powerful Energy Source
Known as the "sacred power of the spirits", a mysterious energy source with possibly unlimited potential dwells inside the body of Zelda. This is only really discussed in Spirit Tracks, but it is hinted to exist in other games of the series. It's quite possible that other incarnations of Zelda have family members with the energy source, as the character Anjean in Spirit Tracks says that it always resides in a member of the Royal Family of Hyrule.
Of course, the thing about having a powerful energy source held inside your body is that people are always going to try to use it for their own motives. In Zelda’s case, her foes frequently try to use it to transform themselves into more powerful beings or to bring others back from the dead. This makes for interesting plot points, but it must be exhausting for poor Zelda.
10 She Once Had To Purify Her Body Through Praying
There's a lot going on in 2011's Skyward Sword, and much of it actually involves Zelda directly. After all, the evil Girahim is trying to steal her soul in order to bring back Demise the Demon King. Unfortunately, Zelda's a very passive character in this one, and even the recurring side character, Impa, gets to do more than her. It's actually Impa who encourages Zelda to take the only course of action she really gets here, and this involves purifying her body after she survives a kidnapping attempt (via a tornado, of all things).
Zelda's quest for purification becomes one of the weirder plotlines in the entire series, and it has her praying in front of different statues of the goddesses in order to purify her body and therefore bring herself back to full strength. In fact, that's the one thing the girl really gets to do in this game, and that's a shame because it's otherwise very well done.
9 Zelda’s Age Ranges From Child To Young Adult
This is just what happens when there are multiple versions of you. Zelda’s been seen as a little girl, a teenager and a young adult. In Ocarina of Time alone, the incarnations of both Zelda and Link are seen at age 9 and then at age 16. While her specific age is not given in many of the games, the oldest (age-wise, not timeline-wise) Zelda appears to have been the one in Twilight Princess, where she was stated to be 20 years old. Likewise, the youngest one officially appears to have been the Ocarina of Time version. Still, maybe it was the cute, Disney-like animation, but we think she looked about that age or perhaps even younger in both The Minish Cap and Spirit Tracks.
Will the series ever feature an old woman Zelda? Probably not. Sure, there's the video game industry's longstanding struggle to depict prominent female characters that are not young and pretty. But in this case, it actually wouldn't make a lot of sense in the Zelda canon to show the adventures of old Zelda or even old Link. This is because each incarnation of them follows a similar pattern to the goddess Hylia and her Chosen Hero, where together they saved the world in their youth (or relative youth, anyway). So while it might be kind of cool to have an adventure with an elderly or even middle-aged Zelda, it would have to be a different kind of plot line entirely.
8 She Can Stop Herself From Aging
Before anyone gets too excited, this isn't so much stopping aging in a "better than Botox" sort of way so much as it is halting her personal growth timeline by being put in a kind of magical coma. In both Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild, it was revealed that Zelda does not age while she is sealed by her own magic. It's more of a means of preservation than anything else, but it's still kind of a unique power to have.
Of course, we should not neglect to mention the Zelda that was awoken by Link in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link after a centuries-long coma. It's clear that the princess featured in this game has not aged a day despite technically being hundreds of years old. Hey, it's not like the series has ever shied away from complexity.
7 She Was Reincarnated As A Pirate
Remember Tetra the pirate? Yeah, that pirate. The big reveal at the end of 2003's The Wind Waker is that this fun character is really Zelda, even though she herself remains unaware of this fact the entire game until the end. This is because Tetra is just another reincarnation, albeit one during a period of time in which Hyrule is no more, and the Royal Family of Hyrule have been reduced to just the descendants of former monarchs. The revelation itself was a great twist in an already exciting story, but then things got a little weird when Tetra instantly transformed from the tan, cool-girl pirate into a pale, poofy pink dress wearing Zelda. The scene actually made us feel a bit sad that her adventurous life on the seas was likely over.
On an interesting side note, however, Tetra was also turned to stone via a curse from an evil being (in 2007's Phantom Hourglass), just as another incarnation of Zelda was before her. The scene served as yet another reminder that despite their status as reincarnations, all Zeldas are linked to one another.
6 She Is Able To Wield Powerful Weapons
While the brute strength in the game may come from Link the warrior, the truth is that Zelda is, in some ways, more physically powerful. She is seen wielding a variety of magical and extremely powerful weapons throughout the series, such as a bow made from pure light (first seen in The Minish Cap). Of course, Zelda is largely responsible for the most powerful weapon of all in the Zelda universe-- the Master Sword.
Created by the goddess Hylia and blessed by Zelda herself in Skyward Sword, this weapon keeps making an appearance throughout the series and is often the only thing that can vanquish the universe's most difficult foes. Of course, it's Link who wields this weapon throughout the majority of the series, but as we saw in Twilight Princess, Zelda herself is more than capable when it comes to using a sword.
5 She Has A Pure Heart
The subject of purity and the general will to do good is a theme that is seen in almost every game throughout the Zelda canon. There may be different villains and new timelines to explore, but every game still comes down to good triumphing over evil simply because good must win. Zelda comes from a goddess who was inarguably good and pure, and so she too must be this way.
The truth is that a large part of what makes a person a Zelda is her pure heart (even more so than her magical powers and her royal bloodline). This is also a recurring theme throughout the series, with her heart's purity even directly helping to save the world in The Minish Cap. Even when she has taken different forms, her heart was proven to be good and pure (as seen in the case of Tetra). The girl really does not have a bad bone in her body, and this is particularly important since she is the guardian of the Tri Force. According to Zelda series lore, the Tri Force can be used to do great good and bring about peace or unleash tremendous evil upon the world-- all depending on the goodness and purity of the person who is in possession of it.
4 Zelda Can Never Be Reincarnated As A Male
In addition to Zelda being the reincarnation (and descendant) of a goddess, there's another reason why the character is always designated as female. In fact, the balance of the triforce depends on the balance of the genders who hold the pieces of it. At least, this is what Eiji Aonuma (the game series’ producer and manager) has said.
"The Triforce is made up of Princess Zelda, Ganon, and Link. Princess Zelda is obviously female," Aonuma said in a 2016 interview with gaming website Kotaku, even going on to say that there could never be a female Link because it "would mess with the balance of the Ti Force." This apparently means that there can only be one female connected with the Tri Force at a time, but the precise reasoning behind all of this remains unknown. Besides, if this is true, why not make Zelda male and then either Ganondorf or Link female? It's not a big deal, but it would add a new spin to the series and help keep things fresh.
3 Two Zeldas Coexisted At One Point
Remember how we mentioned earlier that there was once a Zelda who was woken up after being in a coma for centuries? While it made for a cool plot, it also left many of the game's players scratching their heads. This is because this event takes place in Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, which of course takes place after the events of the original The Legend of Zelda game, which has Link saving the current princess. It's confusing, but the good news is that all can be (somewhat) easily explained.
In this game's timeline, there are actually two Princess Zeldas— the one from the original game and an earlier incarnation who was put into a magical coma generations earlier (this is also where it is revealed that the Royal Family has a penchant for naming their daughters “Zelda”). Both are princesses, and both are named Zelda. The current one is likely off helping to rebuild the kingdom after the events of the first game, while the other one remains sleeping until she is successfully woken up. Do the two ever interact? Probably, but we have yet to see how that plays out.
2 There Are Also Two Incarnations of Zelda In Super Smash Bros
There’s Zelda, and then there’s Sheik. But as fans of the game series know, Sheik is actually just Zelda dressed in disguise. First introduced in Ocarina of Time, Sheik is one of the coolest characters in the whole series as a ninja who is highly knowledgeable when it comes to spells. The weirdest thing about this whole situation is that the two incarnations have totally different fighting styles and abilities despite technically being the same person (nowhere is this more obvious than in Super Smash Bros.)
There is also an ongoing debate over Sheik's gender, due to the character's traditionally male clothing and neutral-looking physique. Then again, as mentioned earlier, we know that Zelda can only be female. But is that reason enough to overcome any magical transformation that would turn her into a male alter ego? This is perhaps just another one of the mysteries that makes the Zelda series so fun to play.
1 There Was That Time She Destroyed Her Own Clone
Does anyone fondly remember The Legend of Zelda animated series from way back in 1989? Yeah, us neither. However, there was one episode (unsurprisingly named "Doppelganger") where Princess Zelda is cloned, and then she turns a sword on said clone when the girl tries to kiss Link. There was only room for one Zelda in this universe!
Though the TV show was short-lived (only 13 episodes) and at best received lukewarm reviews, it is notable for giving us less of a damsal-in-distress Zelda and more of a co-protagonist Zelda who fought alongside Link. And speaking of Link, this incarnation of him actually talks. He's also kind of sassy and annoying, leaving us to wonder if the show would have been better had it focused even more on Zelda herself. "Well excuuuuse me, princess!"
What do you think about these details behind Zelda from The Legend of Zelda? Let us know in the comments!