I am so into the news of a possible live-action Legend of Zelda series produced by Netflix. I don’t care that dramatized video games are historically a mess or that the Variety article hints that Netflix is really just looking to twist it into something Game of Thrones-y. I reject these precedents and approaches (especially since a Game of Thrones-style Zelda brings to mind the words “Tingle” and “incest”) and assert the following six-season structure for a Zelda TV show. Let’s do this.
TL;DR: This makes no sense and is awesome.
Season 1: The Legend of Zelda
Our hero, the green-suited, sword-wielding Link, finds that he has been called upon to rescue the kingdom of Hyrule from evil. Not because he is the person most capable of doing so, but because the evil Ganon’s forces have so overrun Hyrule that Princess Zelda and her forces are flat out gone and Link is the only swordsman left.
Ganon wields a terrible weapon: the Triforce of Power, which has fueled his rampage across Hyrule. In days past, Hyrule’s ruling family held the Triforce of Wisdom and were able to hold Ganon back, but the dark lord’s machinations were able to split Wisdom into eight pieces, which Ganon then hid throughout the land, setting monstrous beings to guard them.
Through a thrilling combination of cleverness and courage, Link manages to reassemble the Triforce of Wisdom and confronts Ganon in his fortress on Death Mountain. They fight, but Ganon ultimately decides that escaping with the Triforce of Power is the best option. Why? Well, this little green-tuniced twerp not only holds the Triforce of Wisdom, but he also found a weapon (light arrows) that allows him to deal a fatal blow to Ganon. Ganon is perilously close to achieving his real goal. Best not to risk losing it all at this juncture.
Link rescues Zelda and returns the Triforce of Wisdom to her. She reveals that Ganon is hunting down the location of the third piece of the Triforce, the one of Courage. Anyone who possesses all three will hold god-like power over the realm, and if Ganon finds a second Triforce he will surely be able to overwhelm Zelda and Link to re-gain the Triforce of Wisdom.
Although he initially undertook this quest due out of panicked necessity, Link has gained a powerful personal sense of courage. He doesn’t hesitate in his duty to gain the Triforce back from Ganon and save Hyrule once again.
But why?!: Aside from the slightly altered ending, this sticks pretty closely to the very first Zelda game and introduces us to the dungeon structure, explains the overall struggle, the powers involved, and sets up the repeated elements and monsters that we’ll encounter through the series. It also depicts Link growing from unsure youth into Hyrule’s champion. Making this growth a choice that Link makes instead of something fated helps us identify with him as a person as opposed to a player avatar. It will also make the revelations in season 2 feel more earned.
Season 2: The Adventures of Link
Link and Zelda have been scouring Hyrule, fighting monsters and getting into scrapes, but haven’t managed to pick up any clues on the whereabouts of the Triforce of Courage. (Come on, Error, tell your Princess where the goods are!) Ganon, enjoying a mastery over creatures that aren’t afraid to dwell in the darkest regions of Hyrule, is having a much easier time of it.
In desperation, Zelda uses her magic to go into a weird vision sleep so she can canvas the kingdom more quickly and guide Link to the long-buried dungeons that hold the keys to the palace the Triforce of Courage is buried in. The race between Link and Ganon is on and the two of them encounter each other now and then, always dramatically.
The two of them reach the lost palace that contains the Triforce of Courage, but Ganon manages to touch it first. The end of Hyrule seems nigh and a vicious battle takes place, with Link relentlessly attacking Ganon with a ferocity that at first seems heroic but rapidly becomes psychotic. Link deals a brutal finishing blow to Ganon but is lost in anger, slashing and stabbing at him repeatedly in a rage. The Triforce of Courage and Power float towards Link and pass into him. Or at least, that’s what seems to happen. While Courage embodies itself in Link, Power passes through him, dragging out a disturbingly solid silhouette of Link himself.
Link’s murderous rage has created a Dark Link, given life by the Triforce of Power. Link now sees how easily evil has passed from Ganon to him and attacks Dark Link, determined to ensure that no one, not even himself, holds the Triforce of Power. Dark Link easily fends off every attack Link can muster, which is when Link realizes that aggression is what created Dark Link in the first place. Link switches tactics, resolutely defending against every attack and never striking back. Dark Link, eyes afire with the energy of the Triforce of Power, acts more and more furiously, loses focus, and ends up taking out a support that topples a wall onto him. Link sees his moment and delivers a single finishing blow to Dark Link. The fight is finally over.
But the season isn’t. The wall that came down has revealed a musty secret passage. Link travels through it and arrives into a massive room lined with statues…of himself. Link is shocked. What is happening here? He spies a plinth with words on it and in the final shot of the season it reveals the following declaration:
Hall of the Hero. He is the not the first, he will not be the last.
But why?!: Dun dun DUNH! Season ending twists are fun. The viewer gets to witness the end of a quest they assumed would take up the entire series, then finds out that the word “Legend” in the show’s title means so much more than they thought. From this point, the show is no longer tied to linear storytelling and can become truly epic. We also get to introduce the concept of Dark Link and can start tying the aspects of the Triforce to their holders on an emotional level. Zelda uses Wisdom to discover information, Ganon and Link are both overly aggressive when holding Power, and Link is, well, courageous and finally rewarded with a Triforce of his own.
Season 3: Ocarina of Time
The season opens in the same manner that the game itself, and plays out pretty much the same way as well. The origin myth of Hyrule is finally revealed as Link is locked away for seven years and he, Zelda, and Ganon now overtly represent the various pieces of the Triforce. Zelda, as both Sheik and herself, and Link battle Ganon and triumph. Link is restored to his original point in time as a child and Hyrule continues on until…
…many, many decades later Ganon re-emerges, but Zelda and Link, the Hero of Time have long since died. Ganon, now unopposed, gains the Triforce of Power and lays waste to Hyrule and its forces. The season ends with Ganon laughing as Hyrule Castle burns and everything fades into darkness.
But why?!: Of all the various Zelda games, Ocarina is probably the most TV-ready. It has an overarching arc, eye-popping monsters, an extended cast, and creative settings. There is really very little that you have to change. Honestly, viewers familiar with the games are probably just biding their time with a Zelda TV show until Ocarina comes around. Here, it also does double-time as the “season” that explains the origin myth of the Triforce, the goddesses, and Hyrule. As if an Ocarina season wasn’t already awesome enough, you get to end it with the villain winning and everything looking completely hopeless.
Season 4: The Wind Waker
The season opens with the closing shot from the previous season, of Ganon laughing and everything fading to black. Then Aryll’s joyous face pops up in the frame and Link falls on his butt, surprised. The heck? What just happened?
Seagulls squawk and sea breezes rustle the palm leaves in the sun-drenched islandscape around us. Season 4 follows a new Link as he leaves his home island, encounters Tetra’s pirates, and fights another mysterious Ganon. We follow their adventures and discover Hyrule Beneath the Waves and its King, finally getting the story of how this season connects to the end of last season: the gods of Hyrule drowned the land in response to Ganon’s re-emergence and it’s taken this long for the cycle to reassert itself.
Link and Tetra-now-Zelda fish the Triforce of Wisdom up from the sea and go after Ganon in Hyrule Beneath The Waves. Link and Zelda defeat Ganon and look forward to Hyrule’s restoration, only for the King to tell them that their island homes above the waves IS Hyrule now and that the future belongs to them.
Link and Zelda pop up to the surface and determine to go exploring for new lands to settle a new Hyrule, but they’re left wondering…why did Ganon re-emerge? Why did the cycle of rebirth break?
An answer comes in the form of a weird portal opening up before them. From the portal emerges Zelda, the Warrior Queen of Hyrule. She sees the ocean and talks to Wind Waker Link and Zelda. They explain how the rebirth cycle broke and Warrior Queen Zelda wonders aloud that even in the future, the cycle seems to be breaking down. But why?
But why?!: Wind Waker is a risky season because the tone and the setting change so dramatically, but it also features by far the funniest Link in the entire series, and the cutest environment (“the Triumph Forks,” heh). The alteration from Ocarina might throw viewers off, but the funnier Link will make them stay. It’s also just a necessary game to include in regards to the larger mythos, since it establishes the cycle of rebirth between Ganon, Link, and Zelda. Every season of a Legend of Zelda TV show should peel back more and more of the overall timeline, and Wind Waker provides a vital piece of that.
One slight alteration to the Wind Waker, though…Zelda gets to go back up to the surface and parade around on her pirate ship in her new princess dress. The Zelda games in general shove her out of the story even though she’s one of the three main characters, so any way we can make her active is great. Also, after getting a season with Sheik, not giving viewers Pirate Zelda seems almost criminal.
The ending twist is super weird, I’ll admit. The next game to depict is obvious, but there are no direct links between them (wonh wonh) so it has to be forced through overly complicated fanfic.
(Wind Waker image via)
Season 5: Skyward Sword (with Majora’s Mask)
The season begins before the events of Skyward Sword, depicting the first battle for Hyrule. We see the triumph of the angry god Demise, we see the creation of the Triforce, and we see the failure of the ancient, time-traveling, technologically advanced people of this first Hyrule, leading to the creation of Skyloft.
The events of the Skyward Sword season then play out like they do in the game, including the revelations about the creation of the Master Sword, and the cycle of Demise/Ganon, Link, and Zelda. Rather than having the fight against Demise be the climactic battle, though, we see the events that occur after Skyward Sword, as the world below Skyloft opens up and Zelda re-establishes the kingdom of Hyrule.
Things are going well until Zelda notices more and more monsters appearing and formerly pristine landscapes turning gnarled and twisted. Evil is seeping back into the world, but how? It was sealed away when Skyloft fell to the earth.
The answers elude Queen Zelda, so she decides to re-awaken the time portal that came in handy during Skyward Sword and travels up the timeline to see how events unfurl. She witnesses the previous seasons in their proper chronological order: Ocarina, Wind Waker, Legend of Zelda, and Adventures of Link and we see her ask questions in each one (hence her appearance in the Wind Waker season). Queen Zelda learns that while the cycle of rebirth is altered every time, aside from the Wind Waker the cycle of rebirth nevertheless continues. Queen Zelda comes to the conclusion that since she’s still around the first reiteration of the rebirth cycle hasn’t yet begun, so the evil re-emerging into the world can’t be Demise/Ganon. It’s something else.
Queen Zelda travels again and becomes aware of the key events of Majora’s Mask, but sees Link fail to stop the moon from crashing into Termina. Suddenly, those events rewind themselves and Queen Zelda discovers that Link’s repeated usage of the Ocarina of Time to save Termina is creating alternate timelines where events play out differently. She makes the connection between this and the timeline-altering events of Skyway Sword itself. She and Link must have created an alternate reality where the rebirth cycle was never established. And now that reality is seeping into theirs!
Queen Zelda knows what she has to do, and finds a cycle where a portal was opened to this parallel reality. She steps in…
But why?!: This is by far the weirdest season, but if you’ve made it this far then the time travel shenanigans aren’t going to throw you off now. (Just ask Lost.) It’s also nice to see Zelda finally getting to be in the narrative driver’s seat after seeing her capabilities as Sheik and Tetra.
Final Season: Twilight Princess and A Link to the Past
Queen Zelda steps through the portal…only to discover a dead world, a land of shadows home to the Twili, who used to be citizens of Hyrule citizens but over the years have morphed into dejected creatures who live under an angry-sun, Demise-as-Ganon. It’s too late to fix this world, so Zelda steps back into her own timeline and tries to find a point that accesses this Dark World before it becomes unsalvageable.
She finds a point in Hyrule’s cycle where the Dark World is accessible as a “Golden Realm” warped by Ganon. Although Link and Zelda are present at this point, Link seems to be unaware of the immediate peril that Zelda is in. Queen Zelda telepathically contacts Link after witnessing his uncle felled in Hyrule Castle. He must take up the sword and rescue the realm.
Link’s adventures play out much like they did in the first season, with a young Link exploring Hyrule and gaining courage. He makes his way to Ganon’s lair in the Dark World and fights a God-like Ganon who has access to the entire Triforce. Link is outmatched, so Queen Zelda summons other Links from all along the timeline: Ocarina Link, Wind Waker Link, Legend Link, to aid in the fight. Together, they take down Ganon and the other Links return to their times. Link to the Past Link touches the Golden Power/Triforce and…
…nothing happens. The Triforce won’t obey Link’s commands. But why? Ganon is gone and no longer accessing the…oh, Ganon wasn’t the one who formed the Dark World, was he?
As this realization comes over Link, a dark figure emerges from the Triforce. Dark Link was the real mastermind behind this cycle. Created in the alternate timeline of Skyward Sword, Dark Link was the evil trying to seep back in to the “real” timeline. Dark Link was the face in the angry sun hanging over the Twili, not Ganon. And Dark Link is not going to give up this chance to re-enter the proper timeline.
Dark Link and Link duel. For the fate of Hyrule, for the fate of the world, for the fate of all time itself. Link, paragon of courage, emerges victorious and touches the Triforce with a wish in his heart. Reality itself fills with light…
And we’re in the Hall of the Hero from the end of season two, with Link looking at all the statues of other versions of himself. The viewer now knows the whole story of The Legend of Zelda. Link leaves to awaken Zelda and report his success and to let her know…the legend will continue.
(Moon image via)
But why?!: Dark Link you bastard! It feels thematically appropriate for the final battle of the entire series to not be Ganon-Zelda-Link so much as Link vs. Link. By this point in the series there need to be stakes that are greater than just defeating Ganon, especially after it’s been established that Ganon will be reborn regardless. So we need a villain that is chaotic and unknowable and who is capable of breaking the cycle of rebirth that Hyrule depends upon. Basically, we need Dark Link.
Seeding in Dark Link also allows us to add some additional narrative importance to Twilight Princess, which was basically a warmed over Ocarina, and Link to the Past, a great game with an otherwise simplistic story.
(Wait, where does Queen Zelda go? ::throws glitter in your eyes and runs away::)
What this entire season-by-season breakdown describes is just the overall arc. There are whole swaths of settings and characters unmentioned that will undoubtedly become break-out icons, like Navi and the Red King and Epona. They’ll also ground these epic tales by demonstrating how Link and Zelda’s quests affect the lives of Hyrule’s citizens. Does the dungeoning and questing get repetitive after a while? Yeah, but that’s the appeal of the games in the first place. Otherwise why would Zelda fans keep buying and playing them?
Ultimately, this isn’t anything. It’s fanfic, theorycrafting type stuff. It’s what popped into my head after I heard the news about a Zelda TV show.
So what do you want?
Chris Lough still isn’t getting the help he needs. Click his name to see what else he has wrought.