Link (The Legend of Zelda)

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Link, seen here in a piece of Twilight Princess artwork, is a courageous fighter who stars in The Legend of Zelda series games.
Game series The Legend of Zelda series
First game The Legend of Zelda (1986)
Creator(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Voice actor(s) Nobuyuki Hiyama (adult)
Fujiko Takimoto (child)
Sachi Matsumoto
( Wind Waker)
Motion capture actor Nobuyuki Hiyama

Link (リンク Rinku ?) is the fictional protagonist of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda video game series created by Shigeru Miyamoto. Link and The Legend of Zelda are one of Nintendo's flagship game franchises, a franchise which has sold over 47 million copies worldwide to date (2006). Their enduring popularity has led to many incarnations of the The Legend of Zelda story and of its Link character. The character's first appearance took place in the 1986 video game The Legend of Zelda, where he was portrayed by a two-dimensional sprite; in later releases Link's appearance has been conveyed by a three-dimensional computer-generated image. The character Link has been featured in other video games from Nintendo, on Nintendo's merchandising, on comic books, and even on a television show about the Legend of Zelda series.

In the games, Link is described as a young boy from the fictional land of Hyrule, a Hylian. His age ranges from 7 to 18 depending on the game. He is also one of the few left-handed protagonists in video games (with the exception of his appearance in the Wii version of Twilight Princess, where he is right-handed for control purposes). Link often journeys through the realm of Hyrule, defeating evil forces and Hyrule's nemesis Ganon, also known as Ganondorf. To defeat Ganon, Link needs a mystical Master Sword usually obtained after many trials and battles using other swords and shields, as well as auxiliary weaponry such as boomerangs, bombs, bows and arrows. Although young, Link is portrayed as a great courageous warrior who has (or develops, depending on the game) a close relationship with Princess Zelda, whom he inevitably rescues. In several games in the series, Link must learn how to play a musical instrument that usually features in the game's plot and can magically unlock several spells.

Conception and creation

The character has been portrayed with almost no spoken dialog in the game series. Facial expressions were only available after the series went to the Nintendo 64. Shigeru Miyamoto has said in interviews that his conceptualization of The Legend of Zelda series and of Link was based on his childhood memories of him adventuring in the woods near his town, books, movies and stories. In one of the interviews, he tells us he tried to make people identify with Link and have the opportunity to be heroes like the character. The games conform to his view: although at the end of some games Link becomes vastly talented in physical and magical arts, Link always starts as a regular boy when the game begins. An example of this is shown by the character's presence in Ocarina of Time who starts as an orphaned Hylian boy and ends as the legendary Hero of Time.

Character creation

The original game for the NES was worked on at the same time as Super Mario Bros., by the same team and had ideas borrowed from one another during their Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 incarnations. Creator Shigeru Miyamoto developed the game and was in charge of deciding which concepts were "Zelda ideas" or "Mario ideas". Contrasting with Mario, Zelda was made non-linear and focused on thought-provoking riddles and puzzles.

There have been several different "Links" in the history of Hyrule, the land where the Zelda series takes place. The existence of multiple Links is made obvious on many occasions in the games; for example, the introduction sequences of The Wind Waker and The Minish Cap refer to an ancient, legendary champion who is identical in appearance to Link, and Wind Waker directly mentions the "Hero of Time" (a title given to Link in Ocarina of Time) as a historical entity. Shigeru Miyamoto has stated, "For every Zelda game we tell a new story, but we actually have an enormous document that explains how the game relates to the others, and bind them together. But to be honest, they are not that important to us. We care more about developing the game system... give the player new challenges for every chapter that is born." Miyamoto has also confirmed that there have been multiple Links in different times in Hyrule. However, the exact chronology of the Zelda series and the lineage of the various Links, though written down by Miyamoto and his team, has never been released in detail. Some major fansites have attempted to construct a coherent Link timeline based on available information, but to little success. Miyamoto has stated that Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past, with Links Awakening falling sometime after Ocarina of Time.

On the design of Link in The Wind Waker, Miyamoto explained, "Link was a young boy and trying to create a very active and very energetic young boy and trying to choose the right style for portraying the young boy in a game like that we tried many different experiments. The ultimate decision we came to was that the cel-shading in The Wind Waker was the best option for expressing that." The Wind Waker takes place with a new Link centuries after the victory of Link in Ocarina of Time.

There is speculation that the movie Ladyhawke has inspired the latest game of the series The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Miyamoto denied that there was any relation, commenting that "We thought that by adding these animals it would help us create a larger and more realistic world." Twilight Princess will also incorporate a switch of focus from young Link growing up to a teenage Link, which lead to various designs and features around this idea.

Actor portrayal

In the 3D games, beginning with Ocarina of Time, Link has been voiced by three actors; Nobuyuki Hiyama for adult Link, Fujiko Takimoto for young Link and Sachi Matsumoto as Link in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but because no Zelda game to date contains substantial spoken dialogue, the part consists only of short phrases, grunts, battle cries, screams, and other sounds. In The Wind Waker, however, Link has been heard saying the phrase, "Come on!" when the player beckons certain characters to follow them in certain dungeons. Voice acting in the series has been limited since the gamemakers feel that players have their own ideas about how Link is supposed to sound and they wish to avoid a backlash. There was also a professional katana stunt man who performed motion capture for Ocarina of Time.


According to the official Encyclopedia, Link is "humble", but also possesses legendary bravery, an attribute consistent with his role as the rightful bearer of the Triforce of Courage. The character is known in later Zelda games as The Hero of Time in his Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask incarnation and as The Hero of Winds in The Wind Waker, as his heroic example has saved countless lives from evil. In the video games he is presented as being a stoic and polite young man, and in the television series as a whiny and lovesick teenager.

He is the rightful bearer of the Master Sword, a powerful and magical sword he wields to defeat the forces of evil. Link does show rare moments of overzealous boldness, such as when he twice attempts to confront Ganon in The Wind Waker ill equipped to defeat him. Also, he inadvertently helped Ganon find the Triforce in Ocarina of Time, forcing Link to undo the damage he had caused, and eventually make things better than they were originally. Although Zelda games feature more interaction with friendly or neutral non-player characters (NPCs) than some adventure games, such as the Metroid series, these characters rarely take an active part in Link’s quest which he completes alone. Link is shown to have several family members, such as an uncle in A Link to the Past, an unseen mother in Ocarina of Time who died fleeing the ravages of war, a grandmother in The Wind Waker who raises him in his parents' unexplained absence, a grandfather from Minish Cap, and the most developed of Link's relatives, his sister Aryll who plays a critical role in the plot of The Wind Waker. He also has several friends, such as the pirate captain Tetra from The Wind Waker, Tatl the fairy from Majora's Mask, and the fairy Navi from Ocarina of Time. He also has a utilitarian relationship with Midna from Twilight Princess. His mother and father also appear as spirits in the Link to the Past manga.

Link appears as a young member of the human-like Hylian race. He is renowned for his fighting skill, such as his incredible boomerang accuracy. It is unlikely that his age ever exceeds 19 years at any point in the series, though apparently, in most games he is closer to the age of 7 to 12. Every Link wears a green tunic, an undershirt (usually white, brown, or green), and a long, floppy green cap, at least for part of each adventure, although the shades of green vary. It is also a common sight to see him wearing light-colored tights (usually white or tan), although he has appeared barelegged in other games. Link’s hair color is usually a dark blond but was originally a brown colour. Link has long pointed ears resembling some conceptions of elves. These are apparently a distinctive trait of the Hylian race (and their descendants), which supposedly allows them to hear messages from the gods. Older Links usually wear small silver or blue hoop earrings, as is the Hylian fashion. However, in episode 4 of the Adult Saga in the official Ocarina of Time manga series, "Link Vs. Link", Impa is seen giving a Link his earrings, describing it as a "rite of passage for young Sheikah men". He also bears a Triforce mark on his left hand, marking him as the one who will find the Triforce of Courage. He is also well known for making use of a variety of weapons and items, such as bombs, hookshot, boomerang, bow and arrow and pegasus boots that make him run extremely fast. He also is extremely physically fit, being able to perform flips, and very skilled, knowing how to perform magic and play an ocarina. When he transforms into an animal in the twilight realm in Twilight Princess, he becomes a wolf, reflecting the mystical aspects of the transformation and his heroism.

Link is left-handed, although this detail has changed over time, with his sword hand being different between games. The Adventure of Link instruction booklet describes Link setting off “with a magical sword in his left hand and a magical shield in his right”. In the Super Nintendo release, he alternates hands, but this is due to sprite mirroring. Starting with The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Link holds his sword in his left hand and his shield in his right, no matter what direction he is facing. This occurs in the left and right-looking sprites. In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, however, Link returns to alternately holding his weapon in the right or the left hand, depending on his orientation. At the beginning of the Four Swords Plus (Four Swords Adventures) manga, Link is referred to as the “left-handed hero” after defeating pirates that were raiding a Hylian town. In addition, Link's figurine description in Wind Waker lists his "manual preference" as left. However, in the animated TV series, Link is right-handed. In the Wii version of Twilight Princess, Link is right-handed to better fit the game's control scheme. Because of this, the maps in the Wii version have also been mirrored. Due to a normal control scheme, the GameCube version Link remained left-handed.


Video games


Link debuted with the February 21, 1986 release of the video game The Legend of Zelda in Japan. Described as a "young lad" who saved Princess Zelda’s elderly nursemaid Impa from Ganon's henchmen, Link assumes the role of the generic hero attempting to rescue the princess Zelda (and the kingdom of Hyrule) from the evil wizard Ganon, who has stolen the Triforce of Power.

In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link approaches his 16th birthday, Impa takes him to North Castle in Hyrule, alarmed by the sudden appearance of a Triforce crest on the boy’s left hand. She shows him the true heiress of Hyrule, an older incarnation of Princess Zelda, trapped out of time in an eternal sleep, lying on an altar in the castle. The old woman also tells Link the Legend of Zelda, an ancient tale about the division of the Triforce and the curse that was put upon the princess. Impa then gives Link six crystals, and a scroll written in an ancient Hylian tongue, which Link understands despite having never learned it. He reads that the mark on his hand is the sign that he was chosen to seek the third Triforce, Courage, in the Great Palace in the Valley of Death. Link then begins a quest to place a crystal in each of six palaces in Hyrule, so that he can later penetrate unhindered into the magically protected Great Palace, claim the Triforce of Courage, reunite the three pieces of the Triforce, and awaken Zelda.

In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, centuries before the events of The Legend of Zelda, Ganon and his army of evil were banished into the Golden Land, the realm of the Triforce, by the Hylians, at the price of countless lives. The portal to this world was magically blocked by seven sages, and the lands behind that seal, which Hylians hoped would never be broken again, became known as the Dark World, as they were corrupted by Ganon’s malice. One day, when the Imprisoning War is all but forgotten, the land is plagued by sudden disaster, until the wizard Agahnim appears at the court of the king of Hyrule and quells the upheaval. Named chief advisor to the throne, he soon seizes power from the king and kidnaps six maidens, descendants of the wise men who had sealed the entrance of the Dark World. The maidens are taken to the castle tower, and never seen again. Agahnim then begins a dark ritual to break the seal on the Dark World and unleash Ganon’s fury upon Hyrule. Princess Zelda herself descends from the seventh sage, and manages to send out a telepathic call for help before being taken away. Link’s uncle heads for the royal castle first, but he is quickly dispatched. He leaves Link his sword and with his last breath imparts the sword-spin technique. The young hero then begins a journey to collect three magical Pendants of Virtue, and claim the Master Sword as his before facing Agahnim.

In The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which follows Link to the Past, Link decides to travel the world, so he might be prepared if a threat like Ganon ever comes to Hyrule again. Returning to Hyrule, Link’s ship is caught in a storm and wrecked. He washes up on the shore of a mysterious island called Koholint. A girl named Marin, who strongly resembles Zelda, finds Link lying unconscious on the beach and brings him to her home. He awakes on a beach and meets a strange talking owl who tells him that the only way he can escape Koholint Island is by awakening the “Wind Fish”, a giant creature slumbering in a colossal egg in the centre of the island.


In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a young Link has been raised as one of the Kokiri, the “children of the forest”. Unlike the other Kokiri, Link does not have a fairy companion, and is thus shunned by their leader, Mido. Link's life changes one day when the Great Deku Tree, the forest's guardian, sends Navi the fairy to Link with instructions to bring him immediately. A curse has been cast on the Deku Tree, and he asks Link to break it; while Link is successful in defeating the monsters inside the Tree, the Tree was doomed before Link started. Dying, the Deku Tree tells Link of the Triforce and directs Link to Hyrule Castle, where he encounters Princess Zelda. She sends him on a mission to collect three Spiritual Stones and save Hyrule. Once Link obtains the Stones, he travels to the Temple of Time and opens the Door of Time with the Stones and the Ocarina of Time. He then draws the Master Sword from the Pedestal of Time. This action imprisons Link in the Temple of Light in the Sacred Realm for seven years, while Ganondorf takes control of Hyrule and seizes the Triforce of Power. Seven years after drawing the sword from the pedestal, Link is awakened as the Hero of Time by Rauru, Sage of Light. Link finds that much time has passed, and he has grown up. He sets off on a quest to cleanse the land of Ganondorf’s evil by awakening the Sages, who can seal Ganondorf in what used to be the Sacred Realm. Returning to the Kokiri Forest, he finds that none of his friends have grown up, and most now no longer recognize him. After the player completes the first dungeon in this phase of the game, the Deku Tree's successor, the Deku Sprout, reveals the hidden story of Link's past to him. The Kokiri never grow up; the reason Link has grown, while his Kokiri friends have not, is that he is actually a Hylian, orphaned in the wars that raged before Hyrule was united. When Link was a baby, his mother fled with him to Kokiri Forest, and, mortally wounded, left him under the Deku Tree’s protection. He was brought up as one of the Kokiri, and knew no differently. Through the rest of the game, Link travels back and forth between the two time periods and his two ages using the Master Sword. At the end of the game, he is returned to his youth by Princess Zelda, and Navi leaves him.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask occurs after defeating Ganon(dorf) and being sent back in time to his childhood, Link leaves Hyrule to search for a lost friend (declared by the manga to be his old fairy companion, Navi, which is a reasonable assumption in the game as well). While riding deep in the Lost Woods, he is ambushed by a Skull Kid who is possessed by an evil artifact, Majora’s Mask, and his horse, Epona, is stolen. Chasing the Skull Kid, Link falls into a crevasse and arrives in a country called Termina. He must save this land from the evil of Majora’s Mask, which has drawn the moon into a decaying orbit, causing it to crash into Termina’s capital city in just three days. Link uses the Ocarina of Time and the Song of Time, which sends him back in time and saves the game when he plays it, to relive these three days again and again in order to prevent the disaster. Along the way Link finds many magical masks of his own, a handful of which allow him to transform. Those masks can turn him into a rock-like Goron; a petite, plant-like Deku Scrub; a graceful aquatic Zora; or the Fierce Deity. In this game, Link never grows up in the traditional sense, but the dark power of the Fierce Deity’s Mask allows Link to assume a powerful adult form, “Fierce Deity Link”, also known by some fans as by the Japanese name “ Oni-Link”. This form is easily his largest, standing at least twice as tall as adult Link in Ocarina of Time. Miyamoto mentioned that "we wanted Link to get inside of a wonderland, to experience the adventures and think hard about what he should do."

In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, the Triforce sends Link on a mission to another land, Holodrum, to stop the disruption of the seasons by the General of Darkness, Onox. While there, it is his duty to protect the Oracle of Seasons (in disguise as a dancer), named Din. After Onox takes her by force and the seasons are thrown into chaos, Link sets out to rescue her with the aid of the Rod of Seasons, a magical staff which allows Link to control the four seasons.

In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, Link awakens one day in another land, Labrynna, where he has been sent by the magic of the Triforce. Upon his arrival he is tricked by Veran, the Sorceress of Shadows, into opening the seal protecting the Oracle of Ages, a singer named Nayru. Veran, possessing Nayru’s body and time-traveling powers, goes back in time to change the past and command the present. Link rushes to follow them to the past and save Nayru using the power of the Harp of Ages, which, when played correctly, grants its user the ability to move back and forth through time. After exorcising Veran’s spirit from Nayru’s body, Link ascends her citadel to defeat the Spectre of Sorrow.


In The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords, a Zelda goes to the Sanctuary of the Four Sword with her friend Link to check on the seal containing the Wind Mage, Vaati. The seal has weakened, however, and Vaati emerges and kidnaps Zelda. Drawing the Four Sword from the pedestal where it had imprisoned Vaati, Link gets a splitting headache and passes out, awakening to find that the magical Four Sword has divided him into 2-4 identical Links (depending on the number of players). The first Link wears his traditional green outfit; the second, a red version; the third, blue; and the fourth purple. (In The Minish Cap, it is revealed that these colors reflect the four elements with which the sword is imbued: wind, fire, water, and earth, respectively.) The Links must cooperate to overcome obstacles, collect keys, and storm Vaati’s Palace so they can rescue Zelda and seal the mage away again.

In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, set hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time, the gods have flooded Hyrule. A new country has been formed, encompassing the islands of the Great Sea, which were once the highest mountaintops of Hyrule. The kingdom of old, lying dormant under the sea, is now a half-forgotten dream, barely surviving in ancient scrolls and dusty memories. In the beginning of the game, Link’s younger sister Aryll is captured by the Helmaroc King (a giant masked bird), mistaken for someone else with golden hair and pointy ears. Link travels to all corners of the Great Sea to retrieve his sister and defeat the shadowy power in control of the bird. He finds his quest intertwines with another, and Link becomes, after many trials, the “Hero of Winds”. Using the Wind Waker, a magical conductor’s baton, he borrows the power of the gods to aid him in his quest. The wand’s user interface is similar to that used for the Ocarina of Time, but adds tempo as well as pitch to form tunes.

In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Zelda, who is worried about the seal on Vaati, goes with six other mystical maidens to check on the Sanctuary of the Four Sword, and Link accompanies her. But something goes horribly wrong, and a dark shadowy copy of Link attacks. Link is forced to draw the Four Sword to fight Dark Link, but when he does, he once again splits into copies of himself, and Vaati escapes.

In The Minish Cap, Link is a young boy living with his grandfather, the Master Smith of Hyrule. Link is a childhood friend of Princess Zelda, and on the day of Hyrule’s yearly fair to celebrate the coming of the Picori, they go to join in the festivities. A mysterious stranger, Vaati, shows up and wins the sword-fighting competition; each year the victor of this tournament has the honour of touching the sacred Picori Blade. This sword was a gift to the Hylians from the tiny Picori and was used long ago by a legendary hero (suggested to be a Link in the game's opening sequence) to defeat the forces of darkness and seal them away in the Bound Chest.

In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, released November 19, 2006 (Americas), for Wii and a month later on Nintendo Gamecube, Link is a 16-year-old rancher leading a fairly normal life until two of his friends, Colin and Ilia, are kidnapped by monsters. Link’s rescue mission leads him into the Twilight Realm, a dark place that changes him into a wolf. While in this form, he is aided and ridden by Midna, an imp-like creature with a strange helmet on her head. In his attempt to save his friends, Link discovers an even greater evil that only he can stop.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is said to be aiming for a release in late 2006. It seems to revive the idea of a fairy companion as in Ocarina of Time. A sequel to The Wind Waker, it involves Link’s quest to reunite with Tetra after both are lost at sea in a mysterious fog.

Non-Zelda appearances

Link is present in a number of games outside of the Legend of Zelda series. While varying in their regard within the gaming community, none of these games contributes anything to the series which would be considered LoZ canon.

Link: The Faces of Evil, released in 1993 for Philips’ CD-i system, is the only one of the three Zelda games for the CD-i system in which Link is the protagonist. At the beginning of the game Link is visited by a wizard who tells him that Ganon and his servants have seized the peaceful island of Koridai and captured Zelda. After being informed that only he can defeat Ganon, Link travels to Koridai to find the magical artifact known as the Book of Koridai. Using the Book, he defeats Ganon and frees Zelda. Although it features Zelda characters, this game was not produced by Nintendo, with supervision from Nintendo, or even for a Nintendo system. It has earned disfavorable reviews, particularly from Zelda fans, who do not consider it part of the Zelda series.

There were two other Legend of Zelda games released for the CD-i; Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda’s Adventure. However, in both games Princess Zelda was the protagonist, as in both games the plot involves Link’s kidnapping.

Link is one of eight characters available at the beginning of Nintendo’s 1999 fighting game, Super Smash Bros. Link sports his traditional green Kokiri tunic. (The player can also choose from two alternate tunic colors inspired by Link's Ocarina of Time tunics: the red Goron Tunic and blue Zora Tunic; a purplish-white tunic inspired by the effect of the Blue Ring from the original Legend of Zelda; and a black Gameshark Tunic representing Shadow Link.) He also has some of his usual arsenal from the Legend of Zelda series at his disposal, including bombs, his boomerang and a hookshot.

Link is also one of the 14 playable characters available from the start in Super Smash Bros. Melee, the 2001 sequel to Super Smash Bros. In Melee, he has his bow in addition to the equipment he brought with him to the original Super Smash Bros. Also playable in the game, as a secret unlockable character, is Young Link, the youthful Link from most of the games in the series. Modeled after the Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask version of the hero, Young Link is more agile but weaker than the older Link.

On May 10, 2006, at an after-hours press conference during E³, Link became one of the first confirmed fighters in the Wii installment of the franchise, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. His appearance seems to be influenced by his character model from Twilight Princess. It is still unknown if Young Link will return in Super Smash Bros Brawl.

In the GameCube version of Namco’s Soul Calibur II, the adult-style Link is a playable fighter. Not much is revealed about the incarnation of Link in this game, but it is known that, after saving Hyrule from an evil wizard who was being controlled by a fragment of Soul Edge, he went on a quest to destroy the evil sword. Quickly pulling the Master Sword out of its pedestal, he set out to travel to this world to destroy Soul Edge, on a secret mission arranged by Princess Zelda. Miyamoto did not see a problem with Link appearing in what some had thought to be a "violent fighting game", since he had already been established as a fighter in the Super Smash Brothers games. The more realistic Link in this game was also used to help develop Link's Twilight Princess look. In Soul Calibur II, Link is the only character to use ranged weapons and the only guest character to have his own theme and more than two costumes (he starts with his traditional green Kokiri tunic and the red Goron Tunic; the blue Zora Tunic and purplish-white tunic are unlockable) His weapons are a number of weapons from the Zelda games.

Cameo appearances

Among SNES games, Link made a notable appearance in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, where he is sleeping in a bed at one of the Inns. He also appears in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble!, with a reference to Link's collection of seashells in Link's Awakening. Also, some of Link's weapons and items have shown up in different games, such as the Master Sword appearing in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Animal Crossing. The Legend of Zelda has been parodied in the WarioWare series.

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