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Triforce of Courage: The Links of History



Legends say, that when the kingdom is on the verge of destruction, a hero clad in green will appear to repel evil and save the world. In The Legend of Zelda series that role always falls on the youthful and resilient Link. Time and time again, Link answers the call of destiny by taking up arms to slay whatever ails the kingdom of Hyrule. But Link is usually just retrospectively analyzed as one amalgamate hero, while actually he is so much more than that. Link is 15 different heroes, to be exact, and with each separate hero comes a distinct story and adventure. So, let’s give the heroes of Hyrule their due and appreciate their own unique contributions to the series as a whole.

The Beginnings of a Legend

Hylia’s Chosen Hero

Skyward Sword


Chronologically, the first Link to ever take up the sword and defend Hyrule is Hylia’s Chosen Hero. Mentioned briefly in Skyward Sword as the reason for the Loft Wing Ceremony, Hylia’s Chosen Hero battled in a time when the earth was still in its infancy. The Goddess Hylia used the power of the Triforce given to her by the Three Goddesses, who created the world, to battle the scourge of monsters summoned by the Demon King Demise. Of course, even with the Triforce, this was a task she couldn’t handle alone.

Not only did she unite the world’s tribes, she anointed Link as her chosen hero to help her defend against the monsters, something he accomplished quite well. It was an effort accomplished so well that the Goddess herself gave him her blessed sailcloth as a gift of appreciation for putting his life on the line for herself and the world.

The Hero of the Goddess

Skyward Sword


The same Link who was constantly bullied by Groose and his gang of ne’erdowells was also the first successor of Hylia’s Chosen Hero. In a time before Hyrule was even a kingdom, The Hero of the Goddess took to both sky and land in order to save the world from the returning Demise. In doing so, he forged The Master Sword and used it to slay the Demon King in a winner-take-all battle within the Sacred Realm.

Unfortunately for Link and Zelda, killing Demise placed a curse upon the two’s descendants. Those with royal blood and the spirit of the hero are fated to meet constant battle against the forces of evil for ages to come. But that’s a problem for future Link! Link and Zelda celebrated their victory by making home on the land below the clouds, planting the seeds for the beginning of Hyrule as well as the Hylian race.

The Hero of Men

The Minish Cap


When the lands began showing signs of fruitful civilization, another scourge of monsters came and attempted to lay seige to the world. According to the prologue of The Minish Cap, a young man clad in green with long flowing blond hair came down from the heavens like a gift from the Goddesses themselves. It was The Hero of Men, and he did indeed hold a gift from the heavens.

The Picori Blade was given to him by the Minish, the descendants of those who remained in the sky during the events of Skyward Sword. With the mighty blade, Link banished the monsters within the Bound Chest using the sword as a seal. After saving the world, he vanished into the woods, never to be seen again.

The Hero of the Elements

The Minish Cap


But all things can’t last forever, as The Hero of the Elements soon found out. During Hyrule’s annual Picori Festival, the evil Minish Magician, Vaati, came down to Earth and released the monsters from the Bound Chest. It was up to The Hero of the Elements to take up the Picori Blade and banish the monsters just as The Hero of Men had done years ago.

Link ventured through Hyrule, collecting the elemental artifacts as well as using the power of the Light Force to forge the Picori Blade into the mighty Four Sword, which held the special power of splitting the bearer into four. Of course, he did not venture alone. Ezlo, a former Minish turned into a smart-mouthed green cap by the evil Vaati, showed him the Minish ways of transforming into minuscule size to access certain temples, all while sitting comfortably on top of Link’s head.

But Vaati would have none of this nonsense. In the Palace of Winds, Vaati would be consumed by his dark powers and transformed himself into a hideous monster. However, the power of the Four Sword proved too much for Vaati as the monster was sealed away within the Bound Chest, but this time with the Four Sword as its seal.

The Hero of the Four Sword

Four Swords


But alas, the seal of the Four Sword weakened and Vaati escaped his imprisonment. Vaati, who had lost all memory of his time as a Minish, began kidnapping beautiful maidens from all across Hyrule taking them up to his Palace of Winds.

The tale of The Hero of the Four Sword is told by those rescued Maidens. They spoke of a hero who broke into the Palace of Winds carrying a sword that split himself into four warriors. The split hero once again sealed Vaati into the Bound Chest using the Four Sword and hid it away within a sacred shrine.  And just as suddenly as the hero emerged, he disappeared leaving a grateful kingdom in his path.

The Four Heroes

Four Swords


But, you guessed it, Vaati escaped once again! Upon awakening, Vaati kidnapped Princess Zelda, taking her to his Palace of Winds with the intentions of making her his dark bride.

Link, who had accompanied Zelda on their journey to check on the seal, grabbed the Four Sword and inadvertently split himself into The Four Heroes. The quartet bombarded Vaati, who vehemently protected his kingdom and bride-to-be, but succumbed to the mighty Four Sword once again.

With Vaati sealed in the Four Sword, Link returns to his usual whole self and The Four Sword Sanctuary is built to ensure the seal would remain unbroken by any and all outside sources.

The Timeline Splits

The Hero of Time

Ocarina of Time


Perhaps the most famous and beloved Link of all time is The Hero of Time. This Link is the hero who battled through past and present in order to save Hyrule from the Gerudo King Ganondorf (and whose actions irreparably split the Zelda timeline from here on out).

The existence of the Triforce and its unending powers were only known to a select few members of the Hylian royal family. But then there came a time when its existence became known to all of the tribes of the world, which became a huge problem for the kingdom. Each tribe waged war against each other; Zora against Goron, Hylian against Gerudo, all to take control of the sacred trinket. Amidst this war, a young mother escaped to Kokiri Forest with her baby boy in arms. Before succumbing to her wounds, she pleaded with the people of the forest to take her son and hide him from the horrors of the Hyrulean Civil War.

This child would grow up to be Link, the hero who opened the entrance to the Sacred Realm with the help of his fairy Navi, as well as used the ocarina of time to retrieve The Master Sword for the first time since The Hero of the Goddess forged it to vanquish Demise. However, pulling the sword out inadvertently put Link to sleep for seven years. With access to the Sacred Realm open to all, Ganondorf used this opportunity to venture within, only to find the Triforce hiding inside in all of its glory. Being of an unbalanced soul, the Triforce split into three pieces when Ganondorf tried to greedily take the entire treasure for himself. The Triforce of Power remained with him, but The Triforce of Courage went to the boy who had just unsheathed the blade of evil’s bane.

Not knowing that the courage piece went to Link, Ganondorf would spend the next seven years searching for the rest of the Triforce, all while using his own piece to conquer the kingdom of Hyrule for himself and his race of Gerudo bandits. Link, seven years older, would wake up and venture throughout Hyrule, releasing the seven sages from their bondage to the Gerudo King, allowing him to break into Ganon’s Tower.

Ganondorf, losing in battle to the newly awakened Link, used his Triforce of Power to transform himself into the King of Evil, Ganon. But with the help of Zelda, holder of the Triforce of Wisdom, the duo sealed Ganondorf within the Sacred Realm and returned peace to the kingdom of Hyrule.

Zelda, realizing that Link sacrificed his entire childhood to save the kingdom, sent him back into time so he could relive his lost years. Link was a child once again, but Ganondorf remained alive and well. Journeying to Hyrule castle, Link meets with a young Princess Zelda and tells her of his adventure through time and how Ganondorf would lay waste to the kingdom. With Link’s account confirming her suspicions, Zelda has the King imprison Ganondorf as well as the entire Gerudo race.

Majora’s Mask


But this would not be the end of The Hero of Time’s journey, Link would find himself in a foreign new land while searching for Navi in the Lost Woods. Termina was a strange place, but even stranger was that The Skull Kid, who he met during his adventure in Hyrule, had appeared wearing a mask of immense power. Skull Kid, instead of pulling his usually pranks and tricks, was up to a more sinister plot. Almost as if the mask itself controlled The Skull Kid for its own demented purposes. Link found out that this mask was indeed evil, as stated by the Happy Mask Salesman who had somehow ended up in Termina along with him.

Link would traverse this foreign land, using various magical masks, to stop the evil Majora’s Mask, who had summoned the Moon down from the sky to strike down on the world within three days. After awakening the Four Giants, Link defeats Majora’s Mask and frees the people of Termina as well as The Skull Kid from a most terrible fate.

Twilight Princess


It is not known if The Hero of Time ever made it back to Hyrule, but it is known that he never reunited with his dear friend Navi. It is stated that those who enter the Lost Woods without a fairy are doomed to become a stalfos. One hundred years later, The Hero of Time, now a skeleton warrior known as The Hero’s Shade, trains The Hero Chosen by the Gods as he prepares himself for defending Hyrule against Ganondorf once again.

A sad fate for Hyrule’s most renowned hero. A young man who gave everything to live up to his destiny and defend his kingdom had ended up losing his friend, his life, and met with a terrible fate in the return of a great evil he thought he vanquished forever. He lives as a shade of his former self, in hopes that he could one day amend the mistakes of a life that ended in regret.

The Child’s Timeline

The Hero Chosen by the Gods

Twilight Princess


A few hundred years later, the kingdom of Hyrule would be consumed by an engulfing plague of twilight. Link would be called upon to save Hyrule from the Usurper King Zant and his twilit army. Midna, a small Twili imp, would help Link on his journey, even helping him get used to his Twili wolf form and utilize it to their advantage.

As Link would find out, Midna was the Princess of the Twilight Realm and had been usurped of power by the mischievous Zant, who now seeks to dethrone Princess Zelda and the entire kingdom of Hyrule. Link, after taking The Master Sword, freeing him from his wolf form, seeks out the Mirror of Twilight to gain access to the Twilight Realm, but they come to find that the mirror had been broken by Zant. After restoring the mirror to its original state, Link and Midna enter the realm and defeat Zant. Unfortunately, restoring The Mirror of Twilight allowed Ganondorf, who had been sealed within it during the age of The Hero of Time, to enter into Hyrule and attempt his long awaited coup.

Ganondorf used Zant and his power-hungry nature to do his dirty work. Now it was time for the King of Evil to reap the rewards. But after a failed attempt at transforming into Ganon, Ganondorf is slayed by Link with the Master Sword. Midna, now in her true Twili form after the death of Ganondorf, heads back to the Twilight Realm and destroys the mirror, rekindling balance between the two realms. While Hyrule Castle is being restored, The Hero Chosen By The Gods is seen heading into Faron Woods, never to be seen again.

The Hero of Light

Four Swords Adventure


Hey, it’s been awhile since anyone has checked up on The Four Sword’s seal on Vaati, hasn’t it? Well, what do you know, he has escaped once again, but this time with the help of Link’s doppelganger Shadow Link. The evil Link kidnapped Princess Zelda with a portal to the Dark World and beckoned Link to take him on. Link, being the couragous hero as he is, lets his loyalty to the princess get the better of him. He takes hold of The Four Sword, unleashing the beast Vaati once again.

The Hero of Light, now split into four, saves the maidens who had been kidnapped by Shadow Link and enters the Palace of Winds. In a winning effort against Shadow Link, Link is able to rescue Zelda and head to Vaati’s lair. The Hero of Light is able to get the better of Vaati, killing him, ridding the world of the vile monster once and for all. The rescued Zelda celebrates with Link atop the Palace of Winds, but not before it comes crumbling to the ground. Falling into a dark hole underneath the castle, their greatest fear has been realized. Vaati’s release was an elaborate plan by Ganon, who had stolen the mirror with which he had been sealed and created Shadow Link to trick Link into releasing Vaati.

Ganon attempts to finally conquer Hyrule but is overpowered by The Heroes of Light, as well as Princess Zelda, and is sealed away within The Four Sword.

The Adult’s Timeline

The Hero Who Never Was

Wind Waker


Eras after The Hero of Time sealed Ganon away in the Sacred Realm, Ganondorf broke the seal and tried his hand again at ruling over Hyrule. He brought forth an army and waged war against the Hyruleans. People prayed for a hero to come and save the world. But he never did.

What happened to this lost hero? Unwilling to take up the role? Vanquished before seeing his day in battle? His absence is a shadow on the legend of Hyrule, and one that brought insurmountable consequences.

As Ganondorf drew nearer to the Triforce, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule and his people prayed to the gods to save them from the darkness. The goddesses flooded the lands, sealing Ganondorf and his army below an endless ocean, using the The Master Sword as their seal.

This hero’s failure brought forth a new world. Those lucky enough to make it to the mountaintops created new civilizations on islands amidst a vast sea.

The Hero of Winds

Wind Waker


Commonly referred to as Toon Link, thanks to the Super Smash Bros. series, The Hero of Winds is the first hero to fight evil after the fall of Hyrule. Link heads out to an adventure on the Great Sea along with the pirate Tetra and her crew of miscreants in search of his kidnapped sister. The adventure turns much more sinister when it is revealed that the returning Ganondorf is behind the ordeal and seeks to gain control of the fallen Hyrule, despite it being completely sunken and void of any civilization.

The talking red boat named The King of Red Lions gives Link the Wind Waker baton, which allows him to control the winds itself. The duo rescue his sister and reunite with the pirate crew and Tetra at the secluded monster keep of Forsaken Fortress. After retrieving the The Master Sword from the Tower of the Gods, Link, the King, and Tetra head down into the submerged Hyrule Castle, only to discover that Tetra is actually an incarnation of Zelda, with the jewelry around her neck being the Triforce of Wisdom.

After regaining the lost power of The Master Sword and reuniting the pieces of the Triforce of Courage hidden throughout the Great Sea, Link makes his final stand against Ganondorf. In a valiant effort, Link pierces the Master Sword through Ganondorf’s head, turning him to stone. The King of Red Lions, revealed to be Daphnes Nohanson Hyrule, floods the castle once again and sends Link and Tetra back up to the surface.

Phantom Hourglass


Yearning to keep the legend of Hyrule alive, Link and Tetra set sail in search for a land on which to found a new prosperous kingdom. After exploring for days, the crew find themselves in unknown waters. Upon entering a Ghost Ship they see floating in the middle of nowhere, the two find an interesting relic known as the Phantom Hourglass, but are soon separated when a ruckus causes Link to fall into the ocean.

Washed up ashore, Link teams up with Ciela, Oshus and Captain Linebeck to seek out the Ghost Ship by collecting the Spirits of Wisdom, Courage and Power. As they locate and enter the Ghost Ship, they discover that Tetra has been turned to stone. Oshus then reveals to Link that he is the Ocean King and that both he and Ciela had disguised themselves to hide from the life-eating monster, Bellum. The only way to save Tetra is to find and destroy Bellum, who resides in the Temple of the Ocean King.

Bellum, being the horrendous sea monster it is, is immune to most mortal attacks. Link must take the Phantom Sword and forge it with pure metals in order to even stand a chance. In a resilient effort on the part of Link’s crew, Bellum is found and defeated, and the sands of the Phantom Hourglass poured into the sea. With Bellum’s curse released, Tetra is turned back into her normal self, and Oshus turns back into the Ocean King, and drifts away with the three spirits at his side.

Link and Tetra sail away from the surreal sea journey and eventually hit land, claiming it to be New Hyrule. Much like how Zelda and The Hero of The Goddess set the ground for the first Kingdom of Hyrule, The Hero of Winds and Tetra set the beginnings for a brighter future for the Hylian race.

The Hero of Spirits

Spirit Tracks


Centuries after Phantom Hourglass, New Hyrule is chugging along (hehe). With a set of intricate railroad tracks laid about the kingdom, this incarnation of Link is setting out to be a Royal Engineer! But then The Demon Train lays siege to the land. Yes, an evil train now threatens to disrupt the peace of this new kingdom. It turns out that Princess Zelda had a few corrupt people under her command who seek to unleash Malladus, the former tyrant of the land.

The Traitor Chancellor Cole is able to awaken Malladus and escape The Dark World using The Demon Train, but with the help of Zelda’s new ability to possess nearby knights to do her bidding, Link is able to subdue the evil train and battle Cole and Malladus.

With the threat now destroyed, Link is given three options: continue with his engineering work, keep practicing his sword skills, or admit that he has no idea what he wants to do with his life, like any young man or woman who just received their diploma. Which ever decision he makes, Hyrule is saved once again and The Hero of Spirits can ride the tracks freely across the kingdom.

The Fallen Hero’s Timeline

The Hero of Worlds

A Link to the Past – Super Nintendo – April 13, 1992


The one Link to have the largest work load might just be The Hero of Worlds. Not only did he save the kingdom of Hyrule from Ganon after The Hero of Time messed everything up by failing to kill Ganon, he would travel across different lands, worlds and even dreams to protect the innocent from evil.

Link traveled between the Light and Dark Worlds and saved the kingdom that had lost all hope. When Ganon defeated The Hero of Time, Zelda did what she could and sealed the King of Evil away in the Dark World. But as A Link to the Past begins, the Dark World begins seeping into The Light World, making the people of Hyrule worry about the return of Ganon. But The Hero of Worlds came through by defeating The Wizard Agahnim and Ganon to recover the Triforce and save Hyrule.

Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages


Link then ends up in the new foreign land of Holodrum, which is being terrorized by the brutish General Onox. In order to end his reign, Link travels across Holodrum, and even in the subterranean kingdom of Subrosia, to retrieve the Rod of Seasons and collect the Essences of Seasons. Once Onox is defeated, The Oracle Din is freed and the seasons of Holodrum are returned to normal.

After Link returns to Hyrule, he is warped to the kingdom of Labrynna where he is captured by the Sorceress Veran. It turns out that the sorceress used Link’s compromised position to possess the Oracle of Ages, Nayru. Realizing that he helped Veran gain the ability to control time, Link sets out across Labrynna to collect the Essences of Time and free Nayru from Veran’s command.

But through the efforts of both Veran and Onox (and the use of the Game Boy link cable), Ganon is able to revive himself. This Ganon seeks to destroy rather than to reign over Hyrule, but Link is able to vanquish the King of Evil from both Labrynna and Holodrum.

Link’s Awakening


But of course, this hero’s journey would not be over so easily. Link would end up on Koholint Island after a violent storm wrecks the ship on which he is sailing. He learns that the only way to leave the island is to gather the Eight Instruments of the Sirens to play The Ballad of the Wind Fish. This will awaken the Wind Fish and grant Link his wish of finally going back home to Hyrule.

Now, there are some theories on whether or not The Hero of Worlds is simply dreaming or had actually died from the shipwreck, with Koholint Island acting as a sort of a purgatory. Whether the island be real or dream, The Hero of Worlds sure gave it his all and then some in defending four different lands.

The Hero of Kingdoms

A Link Between Worlds


The Hero of Kingdoms is the most recent Link to be portrayed on a Nintendo console. This Link saves both Hyrule and Lorule from the evil Yuga, using the power to merge into the walls to access areas otherwise inaccessible. The Princess of Lorule, instead of being thankful for saving her desolated kingdom, steal’s Zelda’s Triforce of Wisdom and then seeks to take Link’s own piece as well. Ravio, the merchant who sells Link all the items he needs, reveals himself to be Lorule’s version of the hero and convinces Hilda to stop her greedy coveting of the Triforce. But with Link being the upstanding fellow he is, he ends up using the Triforce to restore Lorule to its former state of prosperity.

Tri-Force Heroes


With two Kingdoms saved, it’s time to get FASHIONABLE! In what could be the most superficial adventure of any of the heroes, Link ends up in the land of Hytopia, which values, above all, fashion. The princess of Hytopia, Styla, is tricked by the witch Maud into wearing an ugly jumpsuit which she can never take off. Link ends up joining the Witch-Hunting Brigade along with two other Links, and saves the world from such hideous and outdated styles!

The Hero of Courage

The Legend of Zelda


We finally come to the first Link ever presented to us by Nintendo. The Hero of Courage is the one who started it all, but ironically is chronologically the last. With the kingdom of Hyrule in ruins by Ganon, who has used his Triforce of Power to take total control of the land, Princess Zelda splits her Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces and scatters them across Hyrule fearing the worst had the beast taken control of it.

Link is called upon by Zelda’s nursemaid Impa to restore the Triforce of Wisdom and use it to defeat Ganon and rescue Zelda from within Death Mountain. Upon slaying Ganon, Zelda uses her piece of the Triforce to restore Hyrule to its former, prosperous self.

Adventure of Link


Six years later, Link becomes curious about the crest on the back of his hand and seeks out Impa for answers. She leads him into North Castle, where he sees a slumbering woman. Impa explains that this one is the princess of Hyrule from an age long since passed. The genesis of the kingdom slept an eternity at the end of the hall, but she held a secret that many people desperately wanted to know.

Before Princess Zelda’s father died, he revealed to her the true nature and whereabouts of the Triforce, a trinket that until then was thought only handled by the Goddesses. Her brother, who inherited the throne and became the second King of Hyrule, felt he was owed The Triforce after his father’s advisor, The Magician, convinced him it was his birthright. Zelda refused to tell her brother the whereabouts, which greatly angered The Magician, who cast a mighty spell that shook the entire castle chamber, putting the princess in a slumber and seemingly killing himself in the process.

Grief stricken, her brother placed her in the top of what was then Hyrule Castle and vowed that every Princess of royal blood be named Zelda in remembrance of his dear sister. The mark on Link’s hand is proof that he is the hero fated to awaken the princess from her slumber. Impa explained that only combining The Triforces of Power, Wisdom and Courage will awaken the fallen princess, and then sends the young man off to seek entrance to The Great Palace, where the final trinket is stored.

Amidst his journey, the remnant armies of Ganon seek out Link and try to kill him, believing that pouring his blood over the ashes of their fallen master will revive him. Link battles against these forces, enters The Great Palace and retrieves the Triforce of Courage.

Uniting the Triforce for the first time since the age of The Hero of Time, Link awakens the princess, as well as prevents the return of Ganon.


And there we have it. Every hero who was called upon to save Hyrule from the forces of evil. Links come in many iterations but they will always possess the spirit of the hero. Whether or not they are successful in fulfilling their destiny is a whole other question but what can be said is after 30 years of The Legend of Zelda, Link seems to still be going strong. Let’s hope the next hero’s adventure lives up to the rest of them.

Gamer, Writer, and a lover of pro-wrestling. Being born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona he took up gaming and writing at a young age to shield himself from the blazing heat. Ever since he first got his hands on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at the age of 3, gaming has been apart of his life and wishes to revolve his life around the industry and the art of writing. When he's not gaming, he's attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU or watching some pro wrestling!