Characters: The Legend of Zelda aka: Legend Of Zelda
The games in the The Legend of Zelda series take place in different points in Hyrulean history, and in many cases different timelines entirely, so the characters will always be different between games. For this reason, each game has its own character page. For a lineup, see this◊.
Voiced by: Fujiko Takimoto (Ocarina of Time (child), Majora's Mask, A Link to the Past (GBA), Four Swords, The Minish Cap), Nobuyuki Hiyama (Ocarina of Time (adult)), Sachi Matsumoto (The Wind Waker, Four Swords Adventures, Phantom Hourglass), Akira Sasanuma (Twilight Princess), Yuki Kodaira (Spirit Tracks), Takashi Ohara (Skyward Sword), Mitsuki Saiga (A Link Between Worlds)
The main playable character(s) and hero(es) of the series. You play as a different incarnation of Link in every series of games, but he always has some world-saving destiny at hand. Garbed in his green tunic with sword and shield in hand, he's out to save the world (and frequently, the princess) from whichever Big Bad comes his way. He holds the Triforce of Courage, though not in every game.
All-Loving Hero: Link will help those around him, no matter what. Affiliation, race, and different dimension mean little to him. To him helping is helping. This is quite possibly why he’s the chosen of the Triforce Of Courage. It takes true courage to be willing to help so many people without a second thought for your safety.
Animorphism: In A Link to the Past, he turned into a rabbit, and in Twilight Princess, a wolf.
Badass: Oh, yes. Villains of all kinds fall in defeat before him.
Badass Adorable: Well, look at him. Even the older Links tends to get a "d'aww" out of fans when they get their cute on.
Badass Bookworm: Not only is he a skilled warrior, he is also smart enough to solve an impressive amount of puzzles. Happens literally too, in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past he retrieves a book from the library to help translate ancient text throughout the game.
Baleful Polymorph: His wolf transformation in Twilight Princess, his Deku form in Majora's Mask, and his rabbit-form in A Link to the Past.
He does usually manage to find ways to put his transformations to good use, though, especially once he manages to gain control of them.
Berserk Button: In general, all Links don't like it when you hurt someone close to them.
Beware the Nice Ones: He's generally portrayed as a friendly, kindhearted young man who tends to go out of his way to help those in distress. He is also the avatar of Courage, and has a history of beating the hell out of everything from dragons to demigods.
Big Brother Instinct: To Aryll in The Wind Waker, and to pretty much all the kids in Ordon Village in Twilight Princess.
Chaste Hero: Generally, although subject to a few exceptions:
He is kissed by Zelda once in The Adventure of Link and again in the Oracle series.
There is also Puppy Love between Link and Zelda in Spirit Tracks.
In Skyward Sword, he and Zelda actually go on a date. Hell, they found the Royal Family of Hyrule.
Chick Magnet: He doesn't get much female attention in most games, but he apparently has the ability to charm most girls that he meets. Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword's Links are prime examples.
The Chosen One: In A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, the Oracle series, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. "The Hero Chosen by the Gods," indeed. The major exception is The Wind Waker, where he is The Unchosen One and he has to find the Triforce of Courage himself and prove his worthiness to be the hero.
Played with in The Adventure of Link; despite possessing a mark on his hand indicating that he is the only one worthy of obtaining the Triforce of Courage and awakening Zelda, he still has to prove himself by running the gauntlet of the Great Palace and taking it for himself.
Clothes Make the Legend: To the point that, in The Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Spirit Tracks, there is a reason as to why he wears the so-called "Hero's Clothes".
Color Motif: He's almost always associated with the green color, due to his trademark clothes, his connection with nature (he often starts his adventures in a forest on in the countryside), and the Triforce of Courage (the piece of the goddess Farore, who is also associated with green). Very often blue and indigo serve as secondary colors for him too (the shield, the Master Sword, the glow of its attacks, etc..)
Combat Pragmatist: Though he's skilled with a sword, the majority of his battles have him coming up with a more clever way to take his foe down then simply head-on combat, such as irritating Valoo even more (the point of the battle was to get rid of the source of his irritation) so he causes a stone slab on the ceiling to drop on Gohma. This mostly happens out of necessity as Link might not be able to damage the foe normally, but in fights he CAN win with just his sword there are often alternate methods of defeating the opponent, like reflecting energy balls with a net, or using a hammer instead of a sword.
Conveniently an Orphan: Link never has his parents appear in-game, and it's usually implied that they died some time before. He's occasionally lucky enough to have a few blood-relatives.
Depending on the Artist: The different Links have often wildly divergent appearances. The only real constants are his green tunic and hat.
Though in the last decade or so, Link's appearance has largely standardized to just two blond models: the young "Toon Link", and the older more realistic teenage Bishonen. Previous Links had different hair colors like brown or auburn, and the art style shifted wildly. He even had pink hair in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Today Nintendo seems content to just stick with just these current two styles.
Also, his eyes are usually very blue, but in The Wind Waker, they're black.
David Versus Goliath: Very frequently takes the role of David. It's actually to his advantage, as most attacks send him flying and give him room to recover.
Death Glare: Normally Link has a pretty calm and sometimes even happy face, so when you see him frowning in front of an enemy you know shit is getting real. Skyward Sword would be the best example, but there are instances before that.
Demolitions Expert: Bombs have been a standard part of his arsenal since the early days, and over the years he's gotten more creative in their usage.
Featureless Protagonist: Was this for the first few games (well, sort of), but with additions over time of backstory, family members, and motivations other than "save Zelda", seems to be beginning to grow out of it.
Heroic Lineage: Link is often the descendant of the Order of Hylian Knights or even a different incarnation as himself.
Good Is Not Soft: Link is a humble farmboy, but when things get messy, the bad guys will be destroyed.
Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: About half of Link's incarnations have blond hair and, true to the trope, he is often kind to the people he meets.
Hello, Insert Name Here: Although his Canon Name "Link" is used extensively pretty much everywhere, you get to name the lad in almost every game. While at least one of the Links could've actually been named Link, the other heroes' real names have been lost to history, so it's open to interpretation. See Legacy Character and Eternal Hero below.
Also at some points in The Wind Waker, where he very clear calls out "Come on!" during the escort missions.
And again averted in Twilight Princess. Not the main Link, he's as silent as ever, but Word of God says that the Spirit Advisor Hero's Shade is the ghost of the Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask.
He's actually seen talking during cutscenes in Skyward Sword and A Link Between Worlds, but the audience doesn't hear anything. But they pretty much get the gist of it if they have been following the game's plot.
Heroic Lineage: Some of the Links in the series are descendants of others. This is notably subverted by the Hero of Winds, who is not related to the Hero of Time, but manages to be a hero anyway. He also starts his own lineage in his sequels.
Heroic Spirit: Whether the obstacles are diabolic puzzles or demon kings, nothing stops Link when people need him. Lampshaded in Skyward Sword, which explains that he's The Chosen One specifically because of this.
Horse Archer: Originally, the only thing that he could use while riding Epona was his bow.
Kleptomaniac Hero: If it even vaguely looks useful and isn't nailed down, Link will nab it.
And anything that is nailed down? He will brave a dungeon's depths just to get something he can use to pry it up so he nab that as well.
Knight in Shining Armor: Oh, hell yes. Twilight Princess even gives him magic armor that makes him invincible, but eats his money in exchange. He's also recently taken to wearing chainmail under his tunic.
Eternal Hero: In-Universe. Hyrule Historia notes that not all of them may have even been named Link, but that the name is given by the storytellers who recount the Legends of Zelda. This is a Lamp Shade on the fact that you can name the character in every game, but even in-universe previous Links are only referred to by title such as The Hero of Men, Hero of Time, or Hero of Winds, never by given name. And though characters may note that the current Link is wearing The Hero's Clothes, wielding the same Cool Sword, or having the same spirit, they never say that he has the same name.
Of course, this wording is right after "they could be the same person, [or] relatives...", so they could mean family name.
Leitmotif / Bootstrapped Leitmotif: The Hyrule Field theme, which defaults to the main theme of the series. However, riffs from Ocarina's Hyrule Field, and especially the melody from Twilight Princess' Hyrule Field recur often as well.
Lightning Bruiser: Almost always very light on his feet, and strong enough to throw around or clash swords with foes much larger than him. In at least one case, he's able to overpower Ganondorf in a contest of strength.
Magic Knight: Pairs good old fashioned swordsmanship with magical items, and occasionally magic spells.
Muscles Are Meaningless: Often performs feats of strength that, considering his size, should be completely impossible. Some cases are justified with the use of magical enhancements. Others (such as swinging around a sword literally twice his size in Skyward Sword and 3 times his size in Wind Waker) are not.
Pants-Free: Played straight in most of the earlier games, where the art made it clear he wasn't wearing much under the tunic. After Ocarina of Time, though, they started showing him wearing tights, and in Skyward Sword, he is finally given real pants.
Interestingly, early official art for the first game shows him holding his sword in his right hand. The left-handedness came about because of his Ambidextrous Sprite appearance in that game, and it was decided to make the southpaw status canon.
Spirit Advisor: He both has and is one in Twilight Princess, as the Hero's Shade who guides Twilight Princess Link is in fact the Link from Ocarina of Time according to Hyrule Historia.
Unskilled, but Strong: Link's fighting style in most incarnations is known for its large, slow, sweeping movements, and with his legendary sword in hand, he's an unstoppable force in his own realm. However, when put on even footing with his opponent, the Awesome, but Impractical nature of this fighting style is consistently very obvious. He's held a devastatingly low tier position in every fighting gamehe's ever been in... because of his large, slow, sweeping movements.
Wall of Weapons: A sword, shield, bow, boomerang, bombs, and a hookshot. And those are just his standard items.
Zettai Ryouiki: The Links from the original Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, and Link's Awakening have Type C.
Voiced by: Jun Mizusawa (Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess), Hikari Tachibana (The Wind Waker), Akane Omae (Spirit Tracks), Yu Shimamura (Skyward Sword), Ayumi Fujimura (A Link Between Worlds)
The series's namesake(s). The Princess(es) of Hyrule, when not getting kidnapped, is usually the one to send Link on his quest or to help him along the way. Like Link, she appears in different incarnations throughout the series, in honor of the Zelda from Skyward Sword.
Action Girl: In Twilight Princess, The Wind Waker, and Spirit Tracks.
Also implied in Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword, although we don't get to see it on screen.
Archer Archetype: Her bow wielding selves are typically the serene and graceful take on it.
Demonic Possession: Used on her empty body near the end of Twilight Princess, while Zelda's soul is secretly keeping Midna alive.
Happens again in Spirit Tracks, only this time her soul's been put in a suit of armor. Multiple suits of armor, in fact. Also in Spirit Tracks, Malladus inhabits her empty shell as part of a boss battle.
Deuteragonist: The second most important character in the series (despite it bearing her name) after Link.
In Twilight Princess, she is Hyrule's sole ruler, having the authority of a queen. Therefore, she is a princess In Name Only.
God in Human Form: Specifically Skyward Sword's Zelda, who is the mortal incarnation of the goddess Hylia. Considering the strong implication that most-to-all of the Zeldas in the series are reincarnations of each other, it's very probable this trope applies to them, as well.
Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Like the leader hero, most of her incarnations are blonde. On occasion, she will have brown hair and, even rarer, red hair. While she is a princess of varying ages, she has her people's best interests at heart.
The High Queen: Particularly in Twilight Princess, where the plot begins right in the middle of the coronation ceremony that would have made her Queen of Hyrule.
Implied Love Interest: The various relationships between Link and Zelda basically fit the trope description to a tee: neither have another love interest (usually), interact with each other the most (usually), the plot is focused around Link rescuing Zelda (usually), and always form a strong emotional connection quickly no matter the amount of actual interaction. The exceptions are Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword, which play up the romance angle.
Lady of War: She becomes one in the final boss battles of Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Spirit Tracks.
Legacy Character: Females born into the royal family were often named Zelda in honor of the one from Skyward Sword. The Back Story of The Adventure of Link explained that this eventually became every female in the family (at least within its timeline).
Wise Beyond Her Years: Whether as a child, a teenager or a young adult, Zelda is always much wiser than her age would imply.
Xenafication: Initially just a Damsel in Distress, later games made her a ninja, a pirate, and ultimately a goddess. After Wind Waker, she's not as capable of Link but is able to competently assist him in battle by providing Light Arrow support fire. Skyward Sword even goes so far as to have her successfully infiltrate the Skyview Temple and get a good distance to the Earth Temple on her own.
Voiced by: Takashi Nagasako (Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker), Hironori Miyata (Twilight Princess)
The Prince of Darkness, King of Evil, and ruler of the Dark World. Although his original appearance was more like a giant blue pigman, the 3D games gave him a human form when they established his Start of Darkness. He is considered the main villain of the series. He holds the Triforce of Power and is the main villain for six games, and the final boss of a further two. He stated in Ocarina of Time that the Triforce of Power makes him immortal and this is reiterated in Twilight Princess. The Sages attempted to execute him, but this awakens the Triforce of Power which keeps him alive. He can be weakened and sealed away, but as long as he has the Triforce of Power he cannot be permanently killed and will revive in strength. The ending of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword revealed that an incarnation of the Demon King Demise's hatred will always live on so long as incarnations of Zelda and Link continue to live on. And thus, Ganondorf exists as that incarnation of Demise's hatred as the main villain of the series, though there are a few other villains that serve that role as well.
Alternate Self: The Ganondorfs seen in the Decline, Adult, and Child timeline are this to each other. In addition, he has an effeminate Lorule counterpart named Yuga.
Ambiguously Brown: The Gerudo people all live in deserts, so it's probably justified. Ganondorf himself, however, is Ambiguously Green.
Dimension Lord: Any time the Sacred Realm/Dark World appears, chances are he's ruling it.
Dual Wield: Does this in Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker.
Duel Boss: The fights against him in Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, also recognized as some of the best boss fights in the series. (In Wind Waker, he's three times bigger than Link as a normal human. In Twilight Princess, he's wielding a BFS that he pulled out of his own gut.)
Green-Eyed Monster: Specifically, his being destined to be the king of a barren desert before seeing the fertility and peace of Hyrule.
It's even worse than that: It is implied in Skyward Sword that Ganon is the incarnation of the ancient Demon King Demise's hatred after the latter was defeated by the first Link. In other words, Ganon really had no other chance of being anything but evil.
Full Boar Action: His Ganon form, especially in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.
Genius Bruiser: He's usually an incredibly powerful sorceror, and also a powerful warrior, with weapons or without.
God in Human Form: Much like how Zelda is the mortal incarnation of Hylia, Ganon is the incarnation of Demise, specifically the incarnation of his hatred, destined to fight the bloodlines of Link and Zelda forever.
Honor Before Reason: A rare villainous example: During the final fight in Wind Waker, Ganondorf, after being hit by enough Light Arrows, approaches Tetra, and, instead of stabbing her, puts away his sword and simply backhands her. Also, he seems to have a habit of, whenever knocking down Link, waiting until he gets back up before he resumes his attack or does a finishing blow.
Humanoid Abomination: He was human (or very close to it) to start with, but after finding the Triforce, he's become something much, much worse. He is also the incarnation of hatred of the Demon King himself.
Immortality: He is the only bearer of a Triforce piece that remains the same being from appearance to appearance for this reason. Link and Zelda's spirits are contained within their Triforce pieces and they are reincarnated from each passing generation instead.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A variation occurs in both Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker in terms of the finishing blows: in the former, Link, after Ganondorf was pinned down by Zelda, slices Ganondorf's face and then delivers the final blow by impaling his mouth, and in the latter, Ganon attempts to do a last-ditch attack on Link, Link parries it, gains enough air, and then does a downward thrust through Ganondorf's head. Played completely straight in Twilight Princess with Link's finishing blow against him.
Joker Immunity: Despite dying on-screen several times, he usually finds a way back in time for the next game. The Triforce of Power is attributed for most if not all of these returns.
Killed Off for Real: The original Ganondorf was killed by Link at the end of Twilight Princess due to the Triforce of Power, the apparent source of his immortality, abandoning him. However, as per Demise's Dying Curse in Skyward Sword, he is reincarnated as the Ganondorf seen in Four Swords Adventures.
Laughing Mad: His reaction to the waves coming down on Hyrule from the Hyrulean King's wish to the Triforce in Wind Waker.
Legacy Character: Averted. It's all the same guy (with the possible exception of the one in FSA, which, according to Hyrule Historia, is a reincarnation). He must be very frustrated with kids in green clothes by now.
Leitmotif: He even played it on his organ one time, while waiting for Link to arrive.
Lightning Bruiser: In Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, he does away with taking on Link with spells from afar and fighting as the Mighty Glacier Ganon and proves to be an astonishingly agile opponent while still being bigger and stronger than Link and Stone Walling all but the most advanced sword attacks. Even when he is Ganon in Twilight Princess, he's incredibly agile, and turns human for the final battle.
Magic Knight: He not only possesses powerful magic, but is also unbelievably strong and skilled with melee weapons.
Older and Wiser: His depiction in Wind Waker, having had a lot of time to think about things.
The One Guy: To his entire race. Ganondorf is the male Gerudo born once every one hundred years, which is his claim to his title as king.
One-Winged Angel: His pig-like beast form. The 2D games have him in this form all of the time.
Orcus on His Throne: Possesses the Triforce of Power, is a spectacularly skilled sorcerer and swordsman, easily mows down any and all (non-Links) who oppose him, is immortal... and he generally waits around for the latest incarnation of the Hero to level up at the expense of his minions rather than deal with any potential threat himself.
Pig Man: The rare Big Bad example of this trope. Precisely how piggish he looks tend to vary from game to game; he tends to be more pig-like in the 2d games, probably to match his iconic Mooks, the moblins (who tend to see-saw between pigmen and bulldog-men themselves). His Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess incarnations are the least piggish-looking, with the former being a hulking demonic Beast Man with a piggish nose and the latter looking like a swinishly snouted, tusked hybrid of lion and ape.
Physical God: Almost literal considering what powers him now.
Planet of Copyhats: In the backstory of A Link to the Past, he is said to be a masterful thief on account of how he came by the Triforce. Thievery ends up being one of the main defining features of the Gerudo.
The Power of Hate: He embodies the curse that Demise set on the descendants of the first Link and Zelda, in which that an incarnation of his hatred is destined to forever fight all of their descendants.
Makes him transform into Ganon for the final boss fight in Ocarina in tandem with the Triforce of Power.
Pride: What really keeps undoing Ganondorf again and again is his extreme arrogance. While he has recognized Link's skill on several occasions, the King of Evil refuses to believe that the Hero is a match for him no matter how much the latter accomplishes.
Unexplained Recovery: He has died. He has also appeared, perfectly healthy, in games that are chronologically some time after the game in which he has died.
According to Hyrule Historia, Ganon returns in the original The Legend of Zelda (after A Link to the Past) without hinting he had died before in games which at the time weren't released. Due to the ambiguity of what happens in-between, how he inexplicably recovers is unknown.
Several of the games, including Ocarina of Time, strongly imply if not outright state it is due to the Triforce of Power making him immortal. In Twilight Princessthe original Ganondorf is finally slain... only to reincarnate in time for the next chronological game.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Revealed to have started off as one before his rise to power in Wind Waker, with his intention of freeing the Gerudo from the deserts. As to this, the monster he eventually became is a result of Motive Decay, justified as him going mad with power.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Thanks to Skyward Sword and Wind Waker, he also comes across as this. He pretty much wanted to make life better for the Gerudo, but ended up falling hard down the Dark Side, and in Wind Waker at least, it's even implied that he might have regretted his crimes. In addition, since he was predestined to become the reincarnation of Demise's hatred, he also literally never had any choice in regards to whether he could become good. Heck, in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, Zelda and Link even pitied him.
Ocarina of Time. It doesn't matter who opens the Gate of Time, he'll still get a Triforce piece.
Wind Waker. The Master Sword is the only weapon that can defeat him, but freeing it gives him his full powers back.
The Golden Goddesses
The Golden Goddesses
The divine creators of Hyrule, Din, Nayru, and Farore. In ancient times they descended to the chaos that was the world at the time, created the known world and the creatures within it, and then departed, leaving the Triforce at the point in the world they left it. The Goddesses have never directly appeared in a Zelda title outside of flashbacks to their creation of the world, but creatures named for them and artifacts bearing their power frequently appear.
Goddess of Power, represented by fire, the color red, and the Goron race. She created Hyrule itself, shaping the earth and the mountains.
Ambiguously Evil: Seeing as how her part of the Triforce is the one that is taken by Ganondorf, some fans have suggested Din is actively playing for his side and granting him her favor.
Deflector Shields: The spell associated with her, Nayru's Love, creates an energy barrier to protect the user.
Freudian Trio: The Superego, being associated with water and wisdom, and Zelda, who wields her part of the Triforce, is the wise and peaceful ruler of Hyrule.
Making a Splash: Is associated with Water via the Zora's Sapphire and similar artifacts.
Time Master: Being that she's implied to have created the laws of physics (Ocarina of Time says she "gave the spirit of law to the land"), it is thought that she may be the Goddess of Time often spoken of but never named. Additionally, the oracle that bears her name has the power to control time.
Goddess of Courage, represented by the forests and the wind, the color green, and the Kokiri and Deku races. Once Nayru created the law of the land, Farore created life itself, all creatures and plantlife.
Wind is Green: Is associated with Wind, and her spell in Ocarina of Time, Farore's Wind, is green.
Dark Link/Shadow Link
Link's Doppelgänger who first appeared as "Shadow Link" in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link as the surprise final boss created by a wizard to test Link. He's something of a popular character with the fandom despite his infrequent appearances and lack of characterization. He appears most notably in Ocarina of Time as the mini-boss in the Water Temple, and in Four Swords Adventures as a Recurring Boss.There are many different Dark Links, just as there are many different Links. The character is alternately known as Shadow Link (in The Adventure of Link and Four Swords Adventures) and Dark Link (in Ocarina of Time, Oracle of Ages, and Twilight Princess); it is unknown if there are any meaningful differences between the two names. In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, you can fight a Shadow Link in Street Pass battles. They represent other players you pass and are equipped with up to two of the items they have.
Big Bulky Bomb: He throws humungous bombs at you several times during Four Swords Adventures. Can also use them in A Link Between Worlds should an opposing player equip them with one.
Legacy Character: Each Dark Link is a different character and has a different explanation for their existence. In Zelda II, Link's shadow is a test of worthiness for the Triforce of Courage. In Ocarina of Time, Dark Link is a spell cast by Ganon. In Four Swords Adventures, Shadow Link is a creation of the Dark Mirror and a manifestation of the original Ganondorf's hatred for Link.
The twin sisters Koume and Kotake, who were Ganondorf's adopted parents in Ocarina of Time. They presumably taught him his dark magical abilities and set him on his Start of Darkness. Koume uses fire magic and Kotake uses ice magic. Their Fusion Dance forms a composite being that can use both. They were later seen trying to revive Ganon in the Oracle series. Interestingly, their Alternate Universe counterparts in Majora's Mask are good guys who run a potion shop and tour boat in southern Termina.
Big Bad: He plays this role in The Minish Cap and Four Swords.
Blow You Away: Being a wind mage in his later games, his attacks based on wind can send Link flying.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Vaati won the tournament decisively and then went on to humiliate the soldiers of Hyrule in the beginning of The Minish Cap.
The Dragon: To Ganon in Four Swords Adventures. Although he was most likely manipulated.
Enfant Terrible: Even though his age is never mentioned, it's pretty obvious that he wasn't an adult in his human and his original Minish form, since his human artwork makes him barely taller than Link and his Minish-sprite is even smaller than that of a regular Minish. Additionally, he's so cute in these two forms that you wouldn't know he's a villain unless someone told you... Of course the knights of Hyrule suspected nothing when a young boy signed up for the tournament...
Greed: One of the guards describes Vaati as greedy when the latter is impersonating the king in The Minish Cap.
Killed Off for Real: Hyrule Historia states that Vaati was killed in the final fight Four Swords Adventure, permanently writing him off the Child Timeline. His fate in the Adult and Decline timeline is, anyhow, undisclosed
Really 700 Years Old: At least in Four Sword Adventures, which is the last game in the timeline it appears in and has the same Vaati as the one from Minish Cap, which is one of the earliest games in the timeline.
Sealed Evil in a Can: Vaati releases all the monsters within the Bound Chest when he shatters the Picori Blade. He later becomes the sealed evil when he is imprisoned within the Four Sword.
Staying Alive: Each appearance by Vaati is the same character who has managed to live across several generations.
Sword of Plot Advancement: He unleashes numerous monsters by destroying the Picori Blade. Fixing and upgrading the weapon is necessary to navigate through the world and ultimately to defeat Vaati.
Recurring (Legacy) Characters
Impa is a name given to each Zelda's nursemaid. However, each character with the name are very different from one another.
Action Girl: In some incarnations, she seems less a nanny and closer to a bodyguard. In general, Impa is either a young Sheikah not unlike a ninja, or she's an old and possibly portly woman. In Skyward Sword, she's both.
Even the elderly version from the NES games managed to escape capture and survive monster attacks long enough to find Link.
Demoted to Extra: According to the Hyrule Historia, originally Ganon was just the bad guy and it was Link, Zelda, and Impa forming a Power Trio that protected Hyrule. Then Ocarina of Time came around and Ganon became the third member of the trinity.
Ms. Exposition: She always explains the backstory. Even back when she only appeared in the manual, her role was still primarily to explain the backstory. In fact, according to Word of God, her name is derived from the word "impart" because she imparts the legend of Zelda.
The wise old owl who shows up in Ocarina of Time,Majora's Mask, and Four Swords Adventures. A similar owl also appeared in Link's Awakening, but was not named. He appears to give the player hints as to where to go next and what to do. However, his long-winded text conversations and Exposition Break manner of speaking made him annoying in any playthrough but the first one. According to Word of God, he's actually Rauru from Ocarina of Time.
A group of people with special powers that they use to support Link and Zelda - usually after Link has to rescue them. The title of Sage is a hereditary one and the identities of the Sages change with each game they're in, though Zelda is usually considered one and if Impa is in a game with Sages in it, then she's one too.
Chekhov's Gunman: In Ocarina of Time and Link Between Worlds, you meet each of the Sages (except for Rauru) in the early parts of the game long before you (or even they) realize they are a Sage.
Distressed Damsel: Ganon and other bad guys usually target the Sages and imprison them at the beginning of the game, forcing Link to rescue them. Some of them are Distressed Dudes instead, but "damsel" is more common (Link to the Past and Four Swords Adventures specifically make them the Seven Maidens).
Expy: The Lokomo fill the role of the Sages in Spirit Tracks.
Escort Mission: In Four Swords Adventures. In Majora's Mask, you can help her Expies in two different escort missions.
Expy: Of Marin from Link's Awakening. She herself does have two 1:1 Expies in Majora's Mask, Romani and Cremia. Hyrule Historia implies that, with the Link of Link's Awakening coming into the adventure fresh from the Oracle games, Marin was formed from his memories of Malon.
Missing Mom: Like Marin, she has only her dad. However, her counterparts in Majora's Mask have both parents deceased.
The Nicknamer: In Ocarina of Time, Malon refers to Link as "Fairy Boy" because he's dressed like a Kokiri. In Majora's Mask, Romani refers to Link as "Grasshopper" because he dresses in green and patters about. In Link's Awakening, Marin along with everyone else will refer to Link as "THIEF" if you steal from the village shop.
Put on a Bus: Her last appearance in a Zelda title, not counting the remake of Ocarina of Time, was Minish Cap in 2005. Even Link Between Worlds, which references Lon Lon Ranch, makes no mention of her and doesn't even have the ranch itself appear.
Expy: Of Tarin from Link's Awakening and by extension, of Mario. It seems he gets more Mario like with each successive game. In Link's Awakening, Tarin's sprite looked a lot like Mario, but his character art was somewhat different. In Ocarina of Time he has the blue overalls and red shirt. In Oracle of Seasons, he has Mario's "M" logo on his hat, Mario's exact mustache, sideburns, nose, ears, and eyes. He even gives Link a mushroom as part of the trading sequence.
The guardian spirit of the Kokiri tribe in Ocarina of Time and the guardian of the Forest Haven in The Wind Waker. He is cursed by Ganondorf at the beginning of Ocarina, and dies shortly after Link breaks the curse. A new Deku Tree grows in his place when Link is an adult, who tells Link that he is a Hylian and not a Kokiri. This is the Deku Tree that later features in The Wind Waker.
Expy: The Maku Trees of the Oracle games are Expies of him.
The goofy-looking man who rides around by tying a balloon to his belt, floating in the air drawing maps. He first meets Link in Majora's Mask, where he's jealous that Link has a Fairy Companion, because he thinks that he's the reincarnation of a fairy. He later appears in The Wind Waker, where he charges 398 Rupees apiece to translate the Triforce Charts. With 8 of them in the game, it's understandable why gamers would hate this obvious Money Sink mechanic.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite his eccentricities, he is a skilled cartographer and in Wind Waker you can't beat the game without his help.
Link's trusty steed. Link either has to obtain Epona from a ranch or starts with Epona from the beginning of the game, although in that case, it's guaranteed that Epona will soon run off, and Link has to find her again.
Automaton Horse: She never requires any sort of care, other than the meter that prevents unlimited spurring to full gallop.
The Cameo: Appears as a carthorse in Minish Cap, pulling the Lon Lon Ranch goods to market. If you speak to her while Minish-sized, she'll ask you to buy some milk to lighten her load.
Common mooks, particularly in later games. Designs have ranged from imp-like to bulldog-like to boar-like (this motif seems to be the most popular). Bokoblins are smaller and hinted to be smarter than the hulking Moblins. Bulblins are a more recent variation which ride giant boars called Bullbos.
Mini Mook: Miniblins. Their "da-na" noises will haunt your dreams.
Our Goblins Are Different/Our Orcs Are Different: On the scale between goblin and orc, the Miniblins are the most goblinish, the Moblins the most orcish, with Bokoblins and Bulblins falling in between. Especially in Twilight Princess, they tend to follow the Tolkien style of orc in terms of their characterization, though King Bulblin eventually reveals himself to be more of a Proud Warrior Race Guy in the Blizzard tradition.
An octopus (or squid in some cases) monster that shoots rocks from its snout. Notable for appearing in every single Zelda game, with the exception of Twilight Princess.
King Mook: Big Octos, usually found blocking paths.
A reanimated skeleton soldier. If you count the Stalchildren and Ikana Guards in Majora's Mask, these enemies have appeared in more games than Octoroks.
Boss in Mook Clothing / Elite Mook: Darknuts and Iron Knuckles are always among the most difficult enemies you will encounter, and are frequently featured as mini-bosses.
Brainwashed and Crazy: One Iron Knuckle was actually a kidnapped and enchanted woman. The Fridge Horror implications are... ominous.
Lightning Bruiser: Despite their appearance, Darknuts are NOT slow, which is part of why they're so dangerous.
Mighty Glacier: Iron Knuckles, however, are very slow. They make up for this with the highest damage output of any enemy in the series, and by wielding particularly dangerous weapons, like a giant axe or an Epic Flail.
Turns Red: In the 64 games, Iron Knuckles will lose they heavy armor after taking sufficient damage and speed up.
Wallmaster and Floormaster
Disembodied giant hands that like to send Link back to the dungeon's entrance (or a cell, in some cases).
Helping Hands: Though the helping part comes in if you're actually TRYING to get to the dungeon entrance.
Mook Bouncer: Easily the most infamous one in gaming history.
A fairly weak blob creature available in a wide range of colors and types, with each color normally yielding a useful spoil. Weak blob creatures have featured in numerous early Zelda games (Bits and Bots, Zols and Buzzblobs), but the Chuchu has seemingly become a default replacement for all of them.