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Franchise: The Legend of Zelda

My son... gives me Helpful Nintendo Hints that are far too complex for the adult mind to comprehend. Here's a verbatim example: "OK, there's Ganon and miniature Ganon and there's these things like jelly beans and the miniature Ganon is more powerfuller, because when you touch him the flying eagles come down and the octopus shoots red rocks and the swamp takes longer." And the hell of it is, I know he's right.
Dave Barry, describing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, "Un Nintended Benefits"

For the first game in the series, which shares the name, go here.

Nintendo's video game series that codified the Action Adventure genre and began in 1986 on the NES.

The Legend of Zelda franchise is, in essence, a mythos in the classical sense of the word: An evil wizard/king/thief/monster named Ganon (or Ganondorf, but not Gannon) has cast a great evil over the land of Hyrule, and a young boy in a sort of green Peter Pan / Robin Hood costume must save Hyrule by recovering powerful artifacts that rest in places tainted by Ganon. Princess Zelda is his resourceful and sometimes secretive love interest. He either must rescue her or is guided by her, if not both at once.

The story is repeated in many of the games, showing many eras, generations and Alternate Timelines for the land of Hyrule, and as many young boys named Link who find themselves forced to become heroes. While the above conflict is not present in every game, it is the one that pops up most commonly, and even games with a much different plot tend to be shaped by it in one way or another.

See also the series' character sheet.

Vote on your favorite game in the series here!

    Main The Legend of Zelda games 

Due to the Continuity Snarl about the series timeline, "prequel" and "sequel" labels are based on how each game was presented when it was first released (either in backstory and promotional material or as a plot point), ignoring later timeline additions. "Direct" means it features the same incarnation Link as the game it's a sequel or prequel to, "distant" means it's a different Link from a later or prior generation.

    Spin-Off The Legend of Zelda Games 

    Other The Legend of Zelda Media 

Tropes General To This Series:

    open/close all folders 

    A-C 
  • Ability Required to Proceed: Since the days of Link to the Past, most Zelda dungeons follow a simple pattern: "Explore to find a major item. Use item to explore further and find a big key. Use key to open the unopenable-door and fight the boss using said item. Then use item again to reach next dungeon." The most flagrant example may be the hookshot in Ocarina of Time, without which you cannot even enter the Forest Temple.
    • In fact, of the five "adult" dungeons (not counting the Very Definitely Final Dungeon), only one can be reached without using the hookshot, and that one requires the completion of at least one of the others.
  • Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Kaepora Gaebora and the other Owls.
    • Link himself in Skyward Sword, under some extreme Wiimote gestures.
  • Accidental Proposal: Several times in the series.
  • Aerith and Bob: Link and Zelda are both normal, if rare, names, but Malon? Midna? Kafei? Laruto? Not to mention, on the "regular" names from Hyrule, the series gleefully mixes Western and Japanese names in a way you probably wouldn't expect from a kingdom trapped in Medieval Stasis. For the most glaring example, the second-ranked Knight of the Cobble Kingdom in Phantom Hourglass is Doylan. The first-ranked is named Max.
  • All The Worlds Are A Stage: In all the 3D titles—Ganon's Tower type in the first three and the fifth, Zant Stage Rush in the fourth. Also the source of the names of those two types.
  • All There in the Manual: Nintendo released a guide to the series called Hyrule Historia as part of the 25th Anniversary celebration. Among other things, it contains the series' official timeline.
  • Alternate Timeline: According to Eiji Aonuma, Ocarina of Time split the timeline in two, with one timeline leading into The Wind Waker and the other into Majora's Mask (and Twilight Princess 100 years later). The Hyrule Historia revealed it actually split the timeline into three. The third branch leads into A Link To The Past followed by the Oracle games, Link's Awakening, and the original NES Zelda games. This branch is the result of Link being defeated by Ganon in Ocarina.
  • Alternate Universe: The various Dark Worlds in A Link to the Past, Twilight Princess, Spirit Tracks, and A Link Between Worlds.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Played straight in the 2D games, although Link is canonically left-handed. The LttP manual attempts to either justify this or hang a lampshade on it (depending on who reads it) by stating that Link always points his shield towards Death Mountain due to superstitious beliefs.
  • Ambiguously Human: Several races, including the Hylians, Twili, Gerudo, and Sheikah.
  • Amusing Alien: Tingle. Oh, so very much.
  • Anachronic Order: The first four games come an indeterminate amount of time after (a what-if ending of) Ocarina of Time (the fifth), while the sixteenth title, Skyward Sword is said to come before any other game. And while some games are obvious sequels to each other, it's still hard to tell which games are supposed to happen when unless you're looking at the timeline.
  • Anachronism Stew: The series absolutely explodes with this trope. While the core of the games is Medieval European Fantasy, you still have ranches and ghost towns stripped straight from the Old West, boomerangs, steamboats, trains, chancellors with 19th-century top hats, cameras, and even telephones. And that's just barely touching how egregious the anachronisms get in this franchise.
    • "The Group" has a bazooka. Fortunately, that's the most egregious of anything not-magic...except perhaps Goht, the mechanical bull.
    • By Twilight Princess, the Goron people seemed to have not only mastered manipulation of electricity but also understand the principles of electromagnetic attraction. Their mining facility is also remarkably modern-industrial for the Zelda world.
    • The Bombchu Bowling Alley in OoT even features neon lights.
    • In Skyward Sword, the earliest game in the series' internal chronology, Link encounters the remnants of a civilisation of robots, making robots one of, if not the, oldest races in the world. Based on clues in that game, the world may have undergone a Cataclysm Backstory caused by the demon invasion of the surface, and the advanced tools that Link finds in the various games are Lost Technology.
    • It's worth mentioning that Majora's Mask also has a rock band. With electric guitars, keyboards and all.
  • Animated Armor
  • Animated Adaptation: The games had a cartoon series back in The Eighties, along with Super Mario Bros.
  • Artifact of Doom: Majora's Mask. To put it in perspective; everything wrong in Termina when you get there? All of it was done either directly or indirectly by the Skull Kid wearing the Mask. And on top of ruining everyone's lives, he's planning to drop the frickin' moon, destroying the entire land of Termina. And he can do it. Oh, and it's not just a power-up artifact of doom: the mask is intelligent, and is possessing the Skull Kid. And when Majora decides he's outlived his usefulness, the mask discards the kid like an old pair of socks.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has the Fused Shadows, which are hyped up to be an Artifact of Doom by the Light Spirits that Link rescues throughout the game. However, they all agree that, despite the potential for evil the Shadows hold, Link needs to collect them in order to have a chance of challenging Zant's power. Their power is proven when Link fights the creatures that possess them, which have grown into horrific beasts of great power: a Deku Baba, one of the least dangerous monsters in the game, became an enormous two-headed creature that could swallow a man whole when it grabbed a Shadow. We never do see them exert a corrupting power over Link or Midna, though... presumably they were too pure-hearted to be affected (and Midna is eventually revealed to be the rightful possessor of their power anyway, so it makes sense it wouldn't affect her).
      • The Mirror of Twilight from the same game turns demure, unassuming Yeta into the crazy ice-monster Blizzeta.
        "NOT TAKE MIRROR!"
  • Artificial Gill: Various items are required to swim underwater throughout the series.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Standard procedure for boss battles.
  • Ax-Crazy: Majora, Zant, and Ghirahim are possibly the most psychotic characters Link has encountered in his many adventures. The first is an Omnicidal Maniac who wants to obliterate the world with a moon for kicks, the second is a deranged, power hungry man willing to do anything to become king and possibly has an unhealthy obsession with Midna, and the third is a creepy Blood Knight who threatens to torture Link for getting in the way of his plans.
  • Bag of Holding: Implied in the games. Subverted in Skyward Sword, where your items get transported to the Item Check if your adventure pouch is full.
  • Being Evil Sucks:
    • This trope only comes into play once Link is in action. Until the point, the villains' plans tend go incredibly well without many issues plaguing them. Then Link undoes all their damage, seals or kills the evil and generally gives the story a happy ending. Simply put, staying evil in the Zelda universe guarantees failure in the end even if your power rivals a goddess' own power.
    • One exception to the Link part is when Ganon breaks free and his takeover is a success because the Hero of Time was not around to put him down. But even then, Ganondorf's plans were thwarted when the Goddesses flooded Hyrule.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Link is an all-around nice kid. People who end up on his bad side wind up with multiple stab wounds to their everything.
    • Princess Zelda as well. Indeed, she gets kidnapped repeatedly but the girl has shown she is a decent archer, knows a bit of magic, has some Sheikah training in Ocarina of Time and is willing to fight with a sword in Twilight Princess. Even in Spirit Tracks, as an Animated Armor, when you attack her too much, she'll go berserk on Link, and even safe zones can't protect him from her wrath!
  • BFS: Some examples include the Biggoron's Sword, the Great Fairy's Sword and the blade used by the Fierce Deity.
  • Big Bad: Ganon(dorf) in most cases (eight games), followed at a relatively distant second by Vaati (three games), with every other villain except Twinrova having one appearance each so far.
  • Bigger Bad: Demise, as Skyward Sword reveals. He is responsible for Ganondorf's and every other monster's existence.
  • Big Boo's Haunt
  • Bilingual Bonus: It's been possible to translate the various versions of the Hylian language since OoT.
  • Bishounen: Link, in his older incarnations.
  • Black Magic: Many of the main villains possess some knowledge of black magic. Even some evil characters mentioned only once or twice use it, like the Interlopers from Twilight Princess or the tribe which used Majora's Mask.
    • Agahnim could send people to the Dark World and control minds. Being a wizard, he also has various magical attacks. Since Agahnim is Ganon's alter ego, these feats apply to Ganon himself.
    • Ganon can lay death curses, revive ancient terrors from the dead, transform into a beast-like form, create ghostly versions of himself, and more.
    • Majora (and Skull Kid using Majora's Mask) was able to steal and transfer souls, summon a moon to destroy the land of Termina, and inflict curses on people and places.
    • Twinrova could brainwash people, use fire and ice attacks and twist the environment to an ice or fire setting in the Oracle games.
    • Vaati could curse beings, turn people into stone, corrupt an area, and use various magical attacks. He even manages to kill Zelda in a Non Standard Game Over during a timed segment before the Final Boss battles.
  • Blackout Basement: The lantern stages.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: If Link can block an attack with his trusty shield, it always stops all damage, and his upgrades to his shield allow him to block more stuff. Skyward Sword gave him a shield gauge that shows how much the shield can take before destruction, but his greatest shield is invulnerable.
  • Bold Inflation: Just look at the page quote for one particular example.
  • Bonsai Forest: Like many isometric games, the 2D entries in the series have very short trees. To a lesser extent, this also occurs in some of the 3D titles, although specific areas may still have tall trees.
  • Bootstrapped Theme / Bootstrapped Leitmotif: The title screen / overworld theme from the first Zelda game along with many others are used in later games both as the series' Main Theme and as Link's Leitmotif.
    • Zelda's theme wasn't originally Zelda's theme in its first appearance in A Link to the Past: there, it was just a song that played each time you rescued a maiden. Zelda, however, had a personal, extended version of that song, which became her theme in Ocarina of Time.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: All the Links make use of a variety of ranged weapons as well as a sword.
  • Bowdlerize: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was named as such in English because of Nintendo of America's aversion to even the most tenuous of religious themes; what the translated title should have been was Triforce of the Gods.
    • One game later, in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, they changed cross-shaped grave markers into "RIP" rounded-block gravestones. Also the bikini top of the Mermaid became a... pearl necklace.
      • And when the DX version came out, it crept to the European cartridges.
    • The original release of Ocarina of Time had Ganondorf cough up blood after you beat him and mortally wound him. The blood was turned green and then removed in later-produced cartridges. The vocal track in the Fire Temple was excised as it was a Muslim chant, and the Gerudo symbol of the star-and-crescent was replaced with a symbol resembling a stylized face, again for its association with Islam.
    • The 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time gave Princess Ruto an extra layer of scales that end in a small ridge just above her chest, in order to suggest clothing.
  • Broad Strokes: The continuity certainly is this, moreso with later console games as they generally have more continuity nods than the other games.
  • Broken Bridge: In addition to literally breaking bridges, the Zelda games have also begun teleporting those bridges through time and space or replacing the broken bridge with a broken man cannon. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • But Now I Must Go: Tends to happen to the Exposition Fairies. Even Link does this one from time to time.
  • But Thou Must
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Chicken? Cucco. Bats? Keese. Skeletons? Stalfos. Mummy? Gibdo. Zombie? Redead. Dinosaur? Dodongo. Venus Flytrap? Deku Baba or later in the timeline, Boko Baba.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": On the flipside, there's also a recurring enemy that's a floating skull surrounded by flames of varying colors. What are they called? Bubbles.
  • Call to Adventure: Has been getting steadily more complex. It used to be a bunch of random (but extremely insistent) strangers ordering poor Link to save the world, but now we have mysterious sidekicks, kidnapped sisters/lovable village scamps/possible love interests, and so on.
  • Camera Centering: Every 3D game with an adjustable camera has a "return to behind-the-head" shortcut.
  • Camera Lock-On: Z-Targeting in the original release of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, L-Targeting in everything since.
  • Cartography Sidequest: Every game since Link's Awakening except A Link Between Worlds reveals sections of map as you progress.
    • The Wind Waker added to this by having the player hunt down the Fishmen to fill in the Sea Chart.
    • Uncharted Isle in Phantom Hourglass has no map, but the player can write on the lower screen to take notes. Most will follow the map borders and trace Link's path to actually draw the map.
  • Cartoon Bomb: In most games, bombs are portrayed this way. The cel-shading effects in The Wind Waker and its sequels help too.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Part of the charm of the 3D Zelda games are seeing what crazy character designs the developers came up with for each and every NPC. They seem to be getting more outlandish with every installment.
  • Cataclysm Backstory: Two notable examples are Demise's fight against the Goddess Hylia in Skyward Sword and the battle to seal Ganon in the backstory of A Link to the Past.
  • The Catfish: In The Legend of Zelda fishing minigames, there is often a big fish of this sort that will earn you the maximum prize for catching it.
    • It's usually the "Hylian loach", and it has a tendency to be utterly impossible to catch, unless you have a special lure that the fishing hole's proprietor may or may not approve of, in which case it's merely nigh-impossible to catch.
      • Amusingly inverted in Twilight Princess with the Ordon Catfish — they're common, easy to catch, and unpopular with NPCs due to their sliminess. They're also not very big. The Hylian Loach fits the bill for this trope better.
  • Celtic Mythology: Just a little bit. The default name of Link's horse, in the games where she appears, is Epona - which is the name of the Celtic goddess of horses.
  • Chain of Deals: Typically for something awesome but optional, like the Infinity+1 Sword.
  • Changing Gameplay Priorities: Perhaps the series' biggest draw is how it models character growth without simply resorting to bigger numbers. As Link starts any of his adventures, he can only take a couple of hits and his pockets are empty. The world is filled with places he can't get to, doors he can't open and things he can't yet do. Each new treasure he finds lets him get to things he couldn't reach before.
  • Charged Attack: The "whirling blade", introduced in Link to the Past: after briefly gathering power, Link swings his sword in a 360-degree arc to strike multiple enemies with a stronger-than-normal cut.
  • Chaos Architecture: The realm of Hyrule itself. Landmarks such as Lake Hylia, Hyrule Castle, Death Mountain, Kakariko Village, and the Lost Woods tend to move around from game to game. Often excused as corruption introduced in each "telling" of the titular "legend," verging on Literary Agent Hypothesis.
  • Chest Monster: In OoT and MM, some chests would freeze Link (like a Freezard's breath) instead of containing items. In LA and the Oracles games, Zols could be hiding in chests. Other types of trapped chests exist as well, but aren't related to enemies.
  • Colour Coded Characters:
    • The oracles, Naryu, Din and Faore, have clothing and hair based on their namesakes. Naryu is blue, Din is red (though she wears pink and has orange hair) and Farore is green.
    • Odds are that you will never see Link in any color than green unless duplication, shadow counterparts, certain powerups or alternate universes are involved.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
  • Colour Coded Stones: Tends to do this for their goddess related objects.
  • Commonplace Rare: Bottles. In every game that they were featured in, Bottles seem to be something that SHOULD be easy to get. But as it so-happens, the Bottles tend to be only possessed by a few (if that many) people in Hyrule. And these people NORMALLY require some quest or mini-game to be completed. Despite obvious glass windows in quite a few places in the series...are storage containers made from this material THAT sought after? I suppose when you have a kid breaking into everyone's houses and smashing their clay pots to steal their hard earned items, an apparently unbreakable jar seems like the best thing ever.
  • Conservation of Competence: The Hylian Royal Guards may very well be one of the worst military forces in this world or any other. When they're not being slaughtered in droves by whichever villain the game features, they're either standing around, walking back and forth in pointless patrols, or brainwashed and attacking Link (in which case it's Link who slaughters them in droves). They have lost every war they have ever fought and never once made a significant contribution to Hyrule's salvation. Their supposed leader, Princess Zelda, by contrast, seems to have gotten more powerful over the course of the series. This eventually leads up to situations like the ones in Spirit Tracks and Twilight Princess, in which Zelda is a potent sorceress and archer while the guards are incompetent morons whose uselessness is repeatedly lampshaded.
    • In Twilight Princess, if you run through Hyrule Castle town in wolf form, the guards will circle around you, but every one of them is shaking and cowering like mad, and if you make a move they all scream and go running like crazy.
  • Continuity Snarl: The timeline, at least until the revelation in the 25th anniversary artbook of the master timeline thus far. As the article puts it, it's like someone pulled random scattered pages out of three mega-Door Stopper Hyrulean history booksnote  and then shuffled them. While Professor Nintendo finally saw fit to step in and show us which page goes where and give us a number of chapter titles, the snarl will reemerge whenever a new game is released, as its place in the timeline is viciously fought over.
    • Continuity Creep: Zigzagged. Early in the series' history every game's place in the timeline was explicitly defined in relation to the others: Zelda II was a sequel to the first game, A Link to the Past was a prequel, and Link's Awakening was a sequel to A Link to the Past (while leaving room for the possibility of adventures taking place between those two games). It wasn't until Ocarina of Time that things started to get confusing, particularly with the unclear placement of the Oracle games and the introduction of the parallel timelines, as well as having fewer official statements of each game's placement. Later games would start to make things clearer.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Majora's Mask. The world Link is trying to save is already doomed due to some unexplained, malevolent force of destruction, and the best he can hope for is to buy enough time (via Time Travel) to find the Macguffins and call upon giant, godlike entities. This is taken even further by the main antagonist being an insane, reality-warping, eerily childish Eldritch Abomination, not to mention the Moon itself having a Nightmare Face and containing an Eldritch Location inside of it and one of your only allies being a creepy, mysterious mask salesman with an oddly complete knowledge of Majora's Mask and a Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Triforce. To a lesser extent, the Master Sword.
  • Counter Attack
  • Cool Key: Boss Keys tend to be this.
  • Cool Sword: The Master Sword, the Four Sword, the Great Fairy Sword, the Razor and Gilded Swords, the Lokomo Sword, the Phantom Sword, Biggoron's Sword...basically, any major sword upgrade.
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: Many of Ganondorf's final boss battles.
  • Crate Expectations: Usually money or consumable items, though occasionally collectables.
  • Critical Annoyance: The incessant beeping sound that appears when you're down to one heart. It's not as high-pitched in later games, though.
  • Crosshair Aware: Aiming your bow at a rock-throwing Bokoblin in Skyward Sword while it's unarmed will cause it to retreat. Most enemies will also readily avoid your Beetle.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Probably more than one example, but Link's use of a boomerang in a relatively (at least in the earlier games) medieval setting stands out the most.

    D-F 
  • Darker and Edgier: Pretty much the whole reason Twilight Princess was made, according to Word of God; Nintendo heard all the complaints from America (which is the bigger market for Zelda, mind) about the "toon" look of The Wind Waker, and the art and design team was tasked with creating what would in many ways be the darkest chapter in series history.
    • Other candidates for Darker and Edgier are Majora's Mask, where impending doom is just for starters, and The Adventure of Link, where the impending doom won't stop arriving.
  • Dark Reprise: Series-wide example. A heroic Hyrule Castle theme heard in Link to the Past gets a darker reprise in Minish Cap.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: The Gerudo people, including Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time prior to his becoming Ganon, although even at the beginning Ganondorf's skin has a sickly/undead-looking greenish cast, which becomes outright Hulk green or even blue in many of his appearances (not all of which are humanoid, of course) later on in the series's chronology.
    • And Midna takes both dark skinned and redhead to to a new level, being a literally ebony-skinned imp with glowing orange hair.
    • And Skyward Sword gives us Demise, with ebony skin and (literally) flaming hair.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Peahats attack using these in the N64 games.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Every game except the N64 titles, where the enemies dissolve into flames instead.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Ganondorf in some games. Averted in The Wind Waker and by extension Ocarina of Time.
  • Determinator:
    • Link's determination is outweighed only by his courage. Curses, giant monsters, long falls, dangerous terrains, being flung across the ocean... the Links go through a lot. Ghirahim comments on this in Skyward Sword: "But instead of scurrying away like any creature with a basic instinct to survive, you just kept coming back. Again...and again...and again."
    • Ganon is a tough son of a gun as well and keeps charging forward despite horrible injuries. In every instance that has the Triforce, it's no coincidence that these two almost always end up possessing the Triforces of Courage and Power respectively. Considering these typically embody the power of their respective goddesses, who helped create the entire world, it's no surprise that nothing can keep Ganon sealed.
  • Desert Bandits: The Gerudo race lives in the desert and are known throughout Hyrule as a band of thieves.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: Pots, boxes and grass. And chairs and tables and couches and who knows what else. All Links have an innate hatred for anything they can destroy, often in the name of finding pickups: items, hearts, and money.
  • Disc One Final Boss / Dungeon: Agahaim and Hyrule Castle in A Link to the Past, Zant and the Palace of Twilight in Twilight Princess, Byrne and the 24th floor of the Tower of Spirits in Spirit Tracks, and Ghirahim and Hylia's Realm in Skyward Sword.
  • Doomed by Canon: Skyward Sword is the first game in the chronology, according to the official release of the timeline. There's a lot of Foreshadowing within the game that suggests a very bad ending. (The ending turns out to be Bittersweet instead.)
  • Down the Drain: The water dungeons, with the Water Temple as its most well-known (read: notorious) example.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Clashes with Ganondorf sometimes uses lightning as a backdrop just in case fighting a thirty foot man-bear-pig wasn't freaky enough.
    • Apparently it runs in the family. Demise makes some appear during the 2nd part of his battle. He uses it to charge his sword. You can use it too for the same purpose.
  • Dual Boss: Twinrova, Twinmold, Fraaz, etc.
  • Dual-World Gameplay: A Link to the Past started with its use of the Dark World and then Ocarina of Time and Oracle of Ages used time travel.
    • Time travel-dual worlding is revisited in Skyward Sword, but only within the radius of "Timeshift stones." This culminates in the Sandship dungeon, where there is a timeshift stone powerful enough to resurrect an entire ship and the kraken-esque monster beneath it.
  • Dungeon Crawling
  • Earth Drift: The first games had crosses sprinkled about, and A Link to the Past has artwork showing Link kneeling before a crucifix. All of this would be phased out in favor of a more original mythos.
  • Eat Dirt Cheap: The Gorons eat rocks.
  • Easily Conquered World
  • Easing Into the Adventure: From Ocarina of Time, though more obvious from The Wind Waker.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
  • Electric Jellyfish: The Bari species of jellyfish are electric.
  • Elemental Nation: Hyrule is the Light Realm, Lorule and the Twilight Realm are associated with darkness. Hyrule's provinces are also usually split up into Volcano/Mountain, Forest, Water, etc.
  • Empty Room Psych
  • Equipment-Based Progression: The series (with the exception of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, which experimented with RPG Elements) use this trope, having Link pick up a new weapon in each dungeon.
  • Equipment Upgrade: The series often has sidequests where equipment can be upgraded. The best examples being The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, which both had multiple upgrade sidequests for the sword (after the master sword was picked up it could be sharpened and tempered) and fairies/a collection sidequest respectively for the other equipment.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: It's an important plot point if Zelda is not wearing her dress.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Somehow, Zelda is usually:  never referred to as Queen Zelda, even in the games without token cameos by parents.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Ganon's bachelor pad.
  • Excalibur: The Master Sword is called this in the French versions, expect for in Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword, where it is called l'Épée de Légende (the Sword of Legend).
  • Exposition Fairy / Fairy Companion: In order of appearance:
  • Eye Scream: There's a recurring element throughout the series of shooting arrows into eyes. Find an eye-shaped thing in a dungeon? Shoot an arrow into it to solve the puzzle. Fighting a boss with one large eye? Shoot an arrow into it to beat it. It's easy to forget how disturbing this is.
  • Fairy Battle: Used in Zelda II whenever you found a fairy in the overworld.
  • Fairy in a Bottle: They either heal you to full or cast Auto-Revive on you, depending on the game.
  • Fan Sequel: There is a game editor/creator that is for making your own 2D Zelda game that has gained popularity called Zelda Classic.
  • Fanservice Pack: Straight-up admitted by Yoshiaki Koizumi (who was in charge of Link's character design) - Link's adult character design from Ocarina of Time onward was a result of his wife's request for a bishonen Nintendo hero.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: Goron leaders usually have names that begin with 'Dar'. Darunia, Darmani, Darbus, etc.
  • Fetch Quest: The stock quest for padding in between the real winners — the dungeons.
  • Fictionary: Hylian, which is just a substitution cypher on Japanese when it appears in-game (except in Twilight Princess, when it's based on English).
  • Fishing Minigame: Most games since and including Link's Awakening have had one. Averted in The Wind Waker, which apparently has few fish in its ocean.
  • Fish People: The Zora.
  • Flipping Helpless: The Spiked Beetle, Terrorpin, and Snapper are various enemies in the series that are based on turtles and thus have this weakness. Typically they can be flipped with the hammer or the shield, or in the latter case, by getting underneath them using a Deku flower.
  • Foreboding Architecture: Can be spotted on the maps many of the games have.
  • Four Element Ensemble: The Earth, Fire, Water and Wind elements from The Minish Cap, Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: All throughout the series, from laser barriers in The Wind Waker to Beamos in multiple games which shoot lasers. A Link to the Past has the enemy called the Laser Eye, which is an eye that shoots lasers.

    G-I 
  • Generation Xerox: Link and Zelda always, and sometimes notable supporting characters (like Marin/Malon, Tingle, Beedle, and Linebeck).
  • Ghost Butler: There are two cases of this: one where iron bars or some similar obstruction blocks regular doors until a Mini-Boss is defeated or a puzzle is solved, and one where the big door to the boss just slams shut and becomes locked for no apparent reason.
  • Ghost Ship: Present in both The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass:
    • The ship that appears in The Wind Waker guards a chart that leads to one of the fragments of the Triforce of Courage. It can only be entered after the Ghost Ship Chart is found.
    • The ship in Phantom Hourglass lurks the waters of the Ocean King's domains to steal life force and give it to Bellum.
  • Giant Eye Of Doom: Gohma, the first boss in Ocarina of Time. Wart in Majora's Mask as well.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Many examples, particularly Mini Bosses.
  • Giant Spider: Many enemies and bosses, most notably the various versions of Gohma and the Skulltulas. Twilight Princess features the largest and most realistic spider in the series so far, Armogohma.
  • God Is Inept: Hylia's plan was to become human so she could use the Triforce to truly defeat Demise because gods are unable to use the Triforce. So she becomes Zelda and also becomes incredibly weak, nearly helpless, even with a strong guardian in Impa. So she has Link carry on her Triforce plan since she is no longer able to and wishes to strengthen the seal on Demise by entering a deep sleep.
  • Go for the Eye: A perennial favorite.
  • God in Human Form: Skyward Sword reveals that Zelda is the human form of Hylia, the goddess who saved humankind from Demise.
  • Good Morning, Crono: In every game since A Link to the Past, Link begins the game asleep. Or at least, he is first able to be controlled after he wakes up. Apart from the CD-i games, but nobody counts those, and we all try to forget those.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Usually, Link's basic colors are green and blue. Zelda's are pink and white. Ganondorf's, black and red. Neat, huh?
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The Triforce pieces/pendants/whatever. Also, whatever collectables were scattered about starting with Link's Awakening and only getting deeper since.
    • Link's Awakening: Up to 30 Secret Seashells could be collected for a sword upgrade, but only 25 were necessary and the rest disappear once the sword is obtained.
    • Ocarina of Time: 100 Gold Skulltula tokens. Every ten up to 50 gives a special item, and getting all 100 give effectively unlimited money.
    • Majora's Mask: The 24 collectable masks. The last one can only be gotten by getting the rest. Also, 15 Great Fairy fragments in each temple, a large number of upgrades and hidden areas, and the Bomber's Notebook tasks.
    • The Wind Waker: The Nintendo Gallery. Thankfully, the HD remake gives you more room in your camera to make this faster.
    • The Minish Cap: Kinstones, which unlock other goodies, some plot relevant.
    • Twilight Princess: Golden Bugs and Poe Souls, besides the Tears of Light, Fused Shadows, and Mirror Fragments.
    • Skyward Sword: Bugs again, as well as Tears during Silent Realm missions.
    • A Link Between Worlds: Baby Maiamais, which are necessary to upgrade your items.
  • Götterdämmerung: It isn't as apparent from a single game, and requires a look at the timeline to become really noticeable. In the earliest games in the timeline, there is always an explanation for why there are monsters everywhere, and Link has direct divine intervention and Supernatural Aid to help him. Later, the fact that the world is crawling with monsters is taken for granted by the populace, and Link is reduced to scrounging for remnants of ancient power that can be used in his struggle against evil.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Hookshot is the most common name, though the Switch Hook is used in Oracle of Ages, and the Clawshot in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword takes it to extreme levels, as you can use two of them in tandem.
  • Grave Clouds: Kakariko Graveyard gets these before entering the Shadow Temple for the first time. They also appear when Link opens the Royal Tomb.
  • Great Escape: In Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess.
  • Grim Up North: The northern part of the world map will generally have some sort of foreboding mountain or volcano.
  • Guide Dang It: Typically, the games each have a couple of things you probably wouldn't normally think to do, but overall the puzzles are solvable with no external help.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Once again, the Hyrulean guards.
  • Healing Potion: The red potion you can carry in bottles.
  • Hearts Are Health: One of the most memorable examples.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Ingo, Mido, Skull Kid, Linebeck, Byrne, and Groose.
    • Though in the case of Mido, Linebeck and Groose, they aren't evil. Just jerks. For example, Linebeck starts out as a greedy son of a gun, he then does a mini heel-face and turns out to be pretty cool.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Although the name Link is used extensively here and on many a fansite, you get to name the lad in almost every game.
  • The Hero: Link is often "The Hero" in a literal sense — of Hyrule, Time, Winds, or chosen by the Gods. He may start out as an unassuming Farm Boy, but heroism is inevitably his destiny.
  • The Hero Dies: Hyrule Historia states that one of the timelines in the series is created when Link fails to stop Ganon in Ocarina Of Time and creates the Imprisoning War, (aka leads up to A Link Into The Past.)
  • The Hero's Journey - In almost every game, with the possible exception of Majora's Mask.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Go ahead. Attack the Cuccos.
  • Holy Burns Evil: The Master Sword is explicitly imbued with the "Power to Repel Evil", thanks to the combined blessings of four different goddesses. This gives it the rare ability to defeat even purely evil beings such as Ganon and Demise. The Light (sometimes Silver) Arrows and the Four Sword have similar power.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: In all games, Link has always been able to carry quite a bit of stuff, though for some reason in Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask his wallet is rather limited until he gets a bigger one.
    • Skyward Sword plays with this a little by limiting some of Link's inventory to "pouches" he has to find throughout the game. He starts off with four and has a maximum of eight, limiting the number of items he can carry. Of course, he's still managing to fit everything from his shield to quivers and bomb bags inside a small belt pouch... Also, major pieces of equipment like the bow, clawshots, and gust bellows are part of a separate inventory that don't use the pouches.
  • Iconic Item: Link's green tunic and hood and, to a lesser extent, the Master Sword. The Triforce also serves as the Iconic Item for the entire series.
  • Iconic Logo: The page image.
  • Identical Grandson: While not all of the Zeldas look alike, there are a number (such as Minnish Cap Zelda, Wind Waker Zelda, Spirit Tracks Zelda, and the one from before the Great Flood) that are so identical that they even wear the same exact clothes.
  • Implied Love Interest: Link and Zelda in many (but not all) of the games. They're even the trope page image. The biggest examples are Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword.
  • Impossible Item Drop: Most enemies (and random objects like pots or bushes) drop rupees, arrows, bombs, magic potion vials, and hearts at random. Even better, whenever you get a new item (bow, bomb bag, slingshot, etc...) that consumes something, whatever it is suddenly starts appearing everywhere in spite of its not showing up before.
  • Inescapable Ambush: Some rooms lock down tight and won't let you leave until everything inside is dead.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Why do so many items appear just sitting around in Temples? Or holes in the ground, or in the middle of nowhere...?
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Magical Sword in the first game, the Level 2 Sword in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, Biggoron's Sword in Ocarina of Time, and the Great Fairy's Sword in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
  • Insect Queen: The Gohmas are generally portrayed this way (mostly as an Arachnid Queen, but fits nonetheless). They appear as bosses of the dungeon in which their offspring appear as enemies, and they often release their offspring as a Flunky Boss.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Though Link has no problems at all with ladders, steep mountain trails, and vine-covered walls, he is unable to pass man-made fences without the aid of his horse.
    • However, this gets averted in Skyward Sword, where Link is actually able to move around it automatically.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: A staple of the series since Day One. The first two titles even had keys that worked in any dungeon.
  • Interface Spoiler: If there are empty spots in your item and quest menu, rest assured that they will be filled up later on. Notably averted in the Oracle games in which you get several more item spaces than you actually need, and Twilight Princess, where the item menu is a circle where the items are evenly spaced, and the quest menu puts all the Plot Coupons in one space where they float around. Link's Awakening actually has more items than inventory spaces— one has to be traded away for another (and traded back if you need it again, as buying a new one will make the game Unwinnable).
  • Interquel: According to Hyrule Historia, the Oracle games and Link's Awakening are set between A Link to the Past and the original game, while Twilight Princess is this to Majora's Mask and Four Swords Adventures. A Link Between Worlds is somewhere between the Oracles and the original.
  • Interspecies Romance: Gets mentioned (and usually poked fun at) in several games.
    • In Link's Awakening, there's a subquest where you have to deliver a picture from a shy man and his female penpal. Said penpal turns out to be a talking goat in Animal Town (who sends him back a photo of Princess Peach to boot).
    • In Majora's Mask, Treasure Chest Shop Owner (a female Terminan) will flirt with you while you're wearing the Zora Mask.
    • In Oracle of Seasons, Link needs to go on a date with a Subrosian (mysterious, subterranean people who wear cloaks, eat metal, and bathe in molten lava) in order to proceed and can ask her for further dates as well.
    • Vaati, a Picori who used black magic to assume humanoid form and first introduced in The Minish Cap, is explicitly stated as kidnapping Hylian girls because he's attracted to them.
    • In Ocarina of Time, Link gets an Accidental Marriage to Princess Ruto of the Zoras.
    • In The Wind Waker, there a subquest about a Hylian girl falling in love with a moblin.
    • In Twilight Princess, there's the hinted romantic attraction between Link (Hylian) and Midna (imp/Twili). Not to mention Link spending one-third of the game as a wolf (though Midna treats him more like a pet dog at this stage).
    • In Oracle of Ages, Link gets propositioned by a tree. A tree wearing ganguro-gal makeup.
  • Invincible Villain: Ganon has shades of this. After being pelted with holy arrows, exposed to powerful magics and stabbed lord knows how many times with the ultimate sword of good, Ganon tends to stay alive through it all. To scary limits at the end of Ocarina when he is shown after being sealed away. He showed no signs of being harmed at all despite receiving a stab wound to the face moments earlier.
  • Item Get: Link reacts to new items and treasures in the most enthusiastic way possible (and the music agrees) in every game. Increasingly lampshaded as the series goes on.

    J-L 
  • Jerkass: Skull Kid before he found Majora's Mask (more so afterward). Mido remains a jerkass until he puts his jealousy of Link aside. Groose is the best example in Skyward Sword. He kidnaps Link's loftwing at the beginning of the game and becomes both a friend and hero at the end.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Tetra, Midna, Linebeck.
  • Just Eat Him: Like-Likes don't seem to be able to keep Link down, and usually opt instead to strip him of his shield or clothes (or rupees for some varieties). No idea why those would be more nutritional than Link. Originally, they only "ate magic", and devoured Link's Magic Shield because it was the only easily-accessible edible item.
  • Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: Generally speaking, prices for certain items are the same in every store in each game. There are exceptions, though.
  • Lady of War: Applies to Zelda in later games (Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, etc.)
  • Lampshade Hanging: While other handheld Zelda games have done this, the two Nintendo DS games are most well known for doing this to extreme levels. They also enjoy Leaning on the Fourth Wall a bit.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Crosscheck with Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl - Sheik is actually Zelda, and Ganondorf is the Man Behind the Man in Twilight Princess.
    • Also, literally any game in any connection with The Wind Waker (Super Smash Bros., once again, counting) literally goes out of its way to make sure that everybody knows about Tetra's heritage.
  • Lava Adds Awesome: Any fire-base dungeon, especially volcano dungeons. Usually, you also have to fight burning bats and huge monsters that set themselves on fire.
  • Legacy Character: Due to the sprawling (and branching) timeline of the series, Word of God has it that there are multiple Links and Zeldas. In the case of Zelda, this is simply because all princesses of Hyrule are named Zelda; Link is more of a wild card, and seems to appear by lucky happenstance (or, more likely, divine intervention).
    • There's also a viable option presented by Skyward Sword: Demise's curse means that Ganondorf will always be there to haunt Link and Zelda. So while there's always a Zelda, the fates don't allow Ganondorf to reappear until a new Link appears, which itself appears to be by chance.
  • Legendary Weapon: The Master Sword, aka, "The Sword of Evil's Bane", is as legendary as the Triforce itself. It is inscribed in Hyrule's lore that evil ones cannot touch it, nor can anyone, save for the Chosen Hero, draw it from the Pedestal of Time.
  • Leitmotif: Music is reused throughout the series. The most common examples:
    • The iconic series Main Theme, which eventually became Link's leitmotif too. It's the only leitmotif that can be tracked down to the very first NES game.
    • Zelda's Theme (a.k.a Zelda's Lullaby), for the titular princess. Its first appearance was in A Link to the Past, but it became popular in Ocarina of Time (which is the reason why most fans refer to it by its alternative title).
    • The series' Big Bad has his own: Ganon's Theme. It was also created in A Link to the Past.
    • Great Fairy's Fountain is almost always used as the Save File Select Screen theme and the fairy's leitmotif. And yeap, appeared in A Link to the Past first too.
    • Kakariko Village. It has had several arrangements, depending on the setting of the titular village. Guess which game it first appeared in.
    • Inside a House. A homely theme that has almost never missed an entry ever since its first appearence in Ocarina of Time.
  • Lethal Joke Item:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the final Arena-style sword battle with Ganondorf can be made ridiculously easy by using your fishing rod as one of these. The fishing rod has no practical use in battle, since you normally use it only for fishing, but if you pull it out, Ganondorf will stand and stare at the line while you wave it around, completely oblivious to the fact that he SHOULD be fighting you. You then quickly whip out your sword and slash at him while he's caught unawares...rinse and repeat, because he never catches on.
    • There is also the curious property of bottles in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where you can swing them to reflect energy ball attacks in boss battles. These examples are in turn somewhat of a a Call Back to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, where you could deflect the dark wizard Agahnim's projectiles with the Master Sword...or the Butterfly Net, which was normally just used to catch insects and fairies in bottles. Later games had the bottles themselves do the catching and deflecting.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening has two: the Shovel, which deflects Agahnim's Shadow's projectiles, and the Boomerang, which normally doesn't affect bosses, but takes down the final boss in one hit.
    • The Legend of Zelda Oracle games has the Whimsical Ring. It decreases your attack power... though each swing of your sword has a 1 in 256 chance of causing a One-Hit Kill to which not even the final boss is immune.
      • In Seasons, some Subrosians steal your Roc's Feather and leave you with an item called the Fool's Ore. All you can do with it is swing it like your sword, which does nothing. However, if you find an enemy to use it on, you can kill it in 1 hit. The only enemy, however, is the Fire Pokey (which you sometimes dig up), and you can't leave the area until you get the Roc's Feather back, which replaces the Fool's Ore.
    • Following this trend, in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the net you use for catching bugs will also distract Demise during the first half of the battle, and not only does it deflect the projectiles he fires in the second half, it's the only way to do so — your shield can only block them and trying to use your sword just gets yourself electrified.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Starting with Ocarina of Time, this always overlaps with the eponymous Death Mountain trope.
  • Level-Map Display: The world map can be viewed at any time via the menu screen. From Ocarina of Time onwards, a mini map display — complete with arrows marking your point of entry (represented in blue) and your current heading (the yellow one) — usually occupies the lower left corner of the screen for faster, easier navigation.
  • Light Is Good: The Light Spirits, the Light Arrow, Rauru (the Sage of Light), and the Sols.
  • Limited Sound Effects: There are only three sounds your sword makes when it hits something, but more than three materials.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: When you put Legend in the title, it's just begging for Fan Wank.
  • Loads And Loads Of Sidequests: Most entries in the series feature several sidequests ranging from simple Collection Sidequests to potentially massive Fetch Quests, but two entries in the series stand out:
  • Love Interests: Although it's generally accepted that Link ends up with Zelda at the end of most games, along the way Link often meets other girls with whom he has chemistry with as well. Ocarina of Time has at least three different girls who qualify, and that's only counting the ones roughly his age.

    M-O 
  • MacGuffin: The Triforce Zig Zags in this category throughout the series. In the first three games it definitely qualifies, while in games like Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, or Skyward Sword, it affects the plot more deeply.
  • Magic Map: In dungeons Link finds maps of them that reveal rooms he's been in and when paired with the compass reveal all the dungeon's treasures as well.
  • Magic Music: Excluding Phantom Hourglass, some form of this trope has appeared in every Zelda game so far.
  • Magic Wand: Many, including the Rods of Ice and Fire and the Staves of Byrna and Somaria in A Link To the Past, the Rod of Seasons in Oracle of Seasons, the Wind Waker, and the Dominion Rod in Twilight Princess.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The Hylian people don't seem very religious, most likely because all of their "temples" are labyrinthine deathtrap and monster repositories.
  • Mana Potion: In games that use magic, enemies often drop bottles that restore the Mana Meter. Some games also let you carry potions in bottles.
  • The Man Behind The Monsters
  • Marathon Level: The Palace of Winds in The Minish Cap.
    • Twilight Princess's City in the Sky
    • The Cave of Ordeals from Twilight Princess. Getting to the bottom means trudging through 50 levels of enemies with limited health and item refills. Fortunately, every tenth floor is a Great Fairy Fountain. And there's an Easter Egg for beating it twice. Completing it multiple times is the only way to hold more than one bottle of Great Fairy's Tears, too.
    • Vaati's Palace from Four Swords.
  • The Maze: The Lost Woods overlap with this, in every incarnation.
  • Meaningful Name: The word "links" is actually translated as "left" in German and Dutch. So how exactly did Link's trademark left-handedness come to be...?
  • Medieval Stasis: With occasional Schizo Tech. Wild mass guessing ensued.
  • Missing Mom: Even in the games where Zelda's father is present, she never ever has a mother.
  • Mistaken for Granite: Mooks called Armos and Darknut.
  • Money for Nothing: All too common in early installments, the player could amass far too much money very early on in the game and have nothing to spend it on later. First attempted a fix in Link's Awakening, with the 999 Rupee Bow, but properly dealt with in A Link Between Worlds, where money is necessary to rent items that, in previous games, would have been in dungeon chests instead.
  • Money Spider: One could be forgiven for thinking the trope was named for the tektites of the original game. However, here the trope refers to another enemy altogether.
  • Mook Bouncer: The Wall Masters aren't just a type of Wall Master.
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment: Like-Likes.
  • Mortals Are Special: While the gods created the Triforce, its unlimited power can never be used by any deity. This was specifically devised to give mortals hope, and so that they may shape their lives in Hyrule and destinies however they please. They can make their world into a idyllic paradise, or a chaotic nightmare, if they so choose.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The Master Sword. The manual for A Link to the Past says it was forged by the people of Hyrule. Princess Zelda in Twilight Princess says the Master Sword was forged by the ancient sages. Skyward Sword has Link forge the Skyward Sword into the Master Sword.
    • The Triforce was said to have disappeared into the Golden Realm shortly after Hyrule was created (ALTTP). Or that it was hidden away there (OoT). Or, even, that there were only two pieces (Zelda 1''). It was hidden in Skyloft, a place shrouded in legend on the surface world. Among the myths is that the streets are paved in gold.
  • Multi-Stage Battle: The series has this with Ocarina of Time (the final battle with Ganondorf) and Twilight Princess (battles with Zant and Ganondorf).
  • Mundane Utility: Apart from being a ancient, powerful holy weapon forged by the gods/sages/Link/people of Hyrule, the Master Sword is also an excellent lawn-mower.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Word of God says the titular princess is named after F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife.
  • Natural Spotlight: Wherever the Master Sword is.
  • New Game+: The Wind Waker had one where all the Ancient Hylian text would be translated to a readable format and Link could save the world in his jammies.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: It happens so often through the series that one wonders if Ganon didn't plan it from the beginning.
    • In Ocarina of Time, Ganon reaches the Temple of Time because Link left the door opened while time traveling. Oooops.
    • The hordes of evil are unleashed from their seal when Link retrieves the Master Sword in the submerged Hyrule Castle in The Wind Waker. Crap.
    • Vaati in the Minish Cap ends finding the Minish sanctuary because Link visited it several times to infuse the Minish Sword with the power of the elements. Goddamnit.
  • Ninja: The Sheikah and the Garo.
  • No Hero Discount: You can save the world as long as you have enough rupees.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: In (almost) every game, Link and Zelda never express romance, though there's an undercurrent in several games. Averted near the end of Skyward Sword, though.
  • Non-Linear Sequel: Half, maybe two-thirds of the time. Part of why the timeline is such a mess.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Occurs in Majora's Mask, Spirit Tracks, Skyward Sword, and The Minish Cap with special game over scenes.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Skull Kid has shades of this. He was mostly just mischievous before putting on Majora's Mask. Only when the very evil nature of the mask was a factor did his antics go from pulling pranks to tormenting the world and its inhabitants.
  • Notice This: Important items nearby may make Link look in their direction as he passes by. Or an arrow showing that the object can be targeted will appear above it.
  • Oddball in the Series: Zelda II, Majora's Mask, and Four Swords Adventures; to various degrees.
  • Ominous Fog: Phantom Hourglass has it around the Ghost Ship.
  • One-Gender Race: Well, almost. The Gerudo (most prominent in Ocarina of Time) are almost all female. One man is born to the race every hundred years, and the only known male Gerudo in the whole series is Ganondorf. It's implied by a Gossip Stone that the Gerudo mate with Hylians.
    • It also appears as though all Gorons are male. Every Goron is referred to as a "brother" by each other and so far, no definitely female Gorons have come forth.
  • One Head Taller: Gender inverted; Zelda is often depicted as being a bit taller than Link.
  • One-Winged Angel: Often Ganondorf.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: In some titles, they're depicted as female winged humanoids, while in others, they're depicted as winged orbs of lights. [1] uses both: they're glowing orbs when in a bottle and humanoid otherwise.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The four biggest examples are the Like Likes, Pols Voces, Octorocks, and Digdogger.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Moblins.
    • The Bulblins in Twilight Princess are a straighter example.
  • The Overworld: Hyrule Field, possibly the Trope Maker for the Adventure-style overworld.

    P-R 
  • Parental Abandonment: Has anyone ever seen Link's parents or Zelda's mother? In A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker, and The Minish Cap, Link is raised by other relatives. In Ocarina of Time we find out that both of Link's parents died during a great war. Link's father presumably died in battle (the game never says what happened to him), and his mother was killed while trying to hide Link in the Kokiri Woods. In Twilight Princess Link lives in a small village with several families, but he has his own house and no one claims him as a relative. In Skyward Sword, Link is in the same situation, inhabiting a dorm room in the Skyloft Knights academy, but he's not alone; all of the other students are also missing their parents, except for Pipit's mother and Zelda's father. A Link Between Worlds again gives him his own house and an apprenticeship with the local blacksmith, but any family is nowhere to be found.
  • Personal Space Invader: ReDeads and Like-Likes, quite infamous among the fandom.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Zelda has had those since at least the second game, and her standard dress since Ocarina.
  • Pinball Spinoff: Averted; a Zelda arcade pinball game was planned, but Gottlieb could not secure the rights. It was eventually released as Gladiators instead.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: The Cuccos.
  • Plague Doctor: The Wizzrobes occasionally sport a similar outfit.
  • Plot Coupon: The Legend of Zelda eats this trope up. Every game in the franchise uses it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Eight Pieces of the Triforce.
    • Adventure of Link: The Six Crystals, or rather the six statues to put the crystals in (you have the crystals at the outset).
    • A Link to the Past: Three Pendants first, then the Seven Crystals.
    • Link's Awakening: Eight Siren Instruments.
    • Ocarina of Time: Three Spiritual Stones followed by the Six Medallions (you get Rauru's medallion free when you draw the Master Sword for the first time).
    • Majora's Mask: Four Mask Remains.
    • Oracle of Seasons/Ages: Eight Essences of Nature/Time.
    • The Wind Waker: Three Goddess Pearls, then the Two Sages, finally the Eight Pieces of the Triforce.
    • Four Swords Adventures: Six Shrine Maidens, then Zelda; at the same time, four sacred Jewels.
    • The Minish Cap: Four Elements, the same jewels as above.
    • Twilight Princess: Three Fused Shadows, then the Four Mirror Fragments.
    • Phantom Hourglass: Three Spirits, next the Three Pure Metals.
    • Spirit Tracks: Four Force Gems (or, more precisely, the energy from them, which reattaches the broken segments of the Tower of Spirits) and the four glyphs to find them, followed by the Bow of Light, and then the Compass of Light.
    • Skyward Sword: Two surface maps (one is given for free), then the three flames (and accompanying harp songs), next the four parts of the Song of the Hero, and finally the three pieces of the Triforce.
    • A Link Between Worlds: Three Pendants of Virtue (although Zelda gives you the Pendant of Courage before you even know you need them), then seven paintings containing the Seven Sages.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Most of the items in the game have to have certain markings or items in the wall to be useful.
  • Plot Tumor: The Master Sword didn't even appear until Link to the Past when you needed it to battle Agahnim, but it was emphasized that even then it only repelled his magic, it couldn't actually harm his body. To defeat Ganon you had to strike him with the Master Sword to stun him, then shoot him with a Silver Arrow. And you could even have blacksmiths temper the sword to power it up. Ever since Ocarina of Time, though, the Master Sword is a Cosmic Keystone that is just as important as the Triforce to the cosmology and fate of Hyrule, its usage determining the fate of entire dimensions, races, and the space-time continuum. It's the only weapon that can harm Ganon(dorf), and if you're looking at powering it up, it's going to take divine intervention.
  • Pointy Ears: Many species in the game, such as Hylians, Gerudo and Sheikah, have them. They also serve to mark the difference between Hylians and other kinds of humans.
  • Power Floats: Many instances throughout the series, from mooks to bosses. The Triforce itself hovers over its pedestal, turning slowly.
  • Power-Up Magnet: One of the abilities of the hookshot.
  • Power-Up Mount: Riding Epona allows the player to jump over fences.
  • Precursors: The series is a fan of this trope. Enemies like the Armos and Beamos (any robotic enemy, really) are leftovers from a more advanced group, one example being the Minish.
  • Prequel: By Hyrule Historia's reckoning, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Four Swords, The Minish Cap, and Skyward Sword each go successively further back into the original game's past.
  • Prison Episode: Prison settings are presented in The Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and A Link to the Past.
  • Puzzle Pan: Used occasionally for some bigger puzzles.
  • Puzzle Reset: Some puzzles have time limits, and will reset if not completed. Also, incomplete puzzles often reset when you leave the area to let you start over.
  • Pyro Maniac: Bombs are one of Link's all-time favorite problem-solvers. In the first game, he also started several forest fires.
    IF ALL ELSE FAILS USE FIRE
  • Rainbow Speak:
    • Most plot-important items or events are highlighted, occasionally color-coding them based on important aspects (for example, "Link" shown in green, "Zelda" shown in blue, and "Ganon" shown in red).
  • Recurring Element: The "Link" and "Zelda" characters are, excepting for the direct sequels, different people in each game (they just happen to look exactly alike and wear the same clothes and have the same name).
    • Adventure of Link actually explains the multiple Zeldas as tribute to an ancient Zelda whose brother trapped her with a sleeping spell.
  • Recurring Riff: The main motif of overworld theme of the first Zelda game can be heard in numerous songs throughout the series.
  • Redshirt Army: The entire Hyrulean army. It's a wonder that they still bother.
  • Reincarnation: Appears several times.
    • In Spirit Tracks, the Lokomo Ascend To A Higher Plane at the end of the game and say they will return in a new form without memories of their previous life.
    • In Skyward Sword, the goddess Hylia is reborn as that game's Zelda.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Such a perennial favorite that it is a minor shock when someone calls you out for destroying scenery for your own benefit:
    Lumpy Pumpkin Owner: Why would you do that?!
    Link: (Picks up Heart Piece from chandelier wreckage)
    Player: TOTALLY WORTH IT!
    • Also, sometimes you get money from people for keeping their secret places that you just discovered for yourself. Subverted in the first game and the Oracle games, where you sometimes have to pay for the door you just destroyed.
  • Reviving Enemy: The Stalfos are usually this (falling apart into a pile of bones and reassembling themselves if their remains aren't dealt with).
  • Rule of Three: Is present everywhere.
    • Link always (with the exception of Skyward Sword) starts out with three Energy Hearts.
    • Bosses usually die after three rounds of a battle.
    • There are three Golden Goddesses of the Triforce: Din, the Goddess of Power; Nayru, the Goddess of Wisdom; and Farore, the Goddess of Courage.
    • Link occasionally must collect three items for the plot. A Link to the Past has the pendants of virtue, Ocarina of Time has the three Spiritual Stones, The Wind Waker has the three Goddess Pearls, Phantom Hourglass has the three pure metals. Twilight Princess has two instances of this with three pieces of the Fused Shadow and three pieces of the Mirror of Twilight. Skyward Sword does it with the three Ancient Tablets, the three Sacred Flames, the three parts of the Song of the Hero, and the three parts of the Triforce.
  • Running Gag: Since A Link to the Past, bosses in subsequent games tended to have a Weaksauce Weakness of some sort. It happens so often that it can't just be a Good Bad Bug. In short order:

    S-U 
  • Save the Princess: It's been getting better as the series has progressed in terms of plot complexity. The games started with the simple "save Zelda from Ganon", but in some games, the Princess doesn't even get kidnapped until later in the plot. This is even completely subverted in Spirit Tracks, where the princess is actually your Exposition Fairy. Nevertheless, in every game in which the Princess appears she is a captive at some point and Link has to save her.
  • Scenery Porn: The console games after the leap to 3D indulge heavily in this. Even the N64 games were considered this before technology marched on.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • It's like a mish-mash of Medieval, Pirate and Arabian themes, with a few borderline Easter Egg modern inventions (Game Boy Advance, telephones, colour film (or maybe even digital) cameras and locomotives) thrown in for good measure.
    • Majora's Mask had a mechanical bull. Not as an Easter Egg, as a boss. The mind boggles.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has a miniboss (Phantom Zant) which is actually a 3D hologram straight out of Star Wars. It's even colored blue, has scanlines, and flickers just like a Star Wars hologram. The internal game name of the miniboss, Zant Hologram, acknowledges its high-tech qualities.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in Skyward Sword, where an entire area of the game is based on technology. And keep in mind that the game only has four main areas (the Sky and the three regions of the Surface) that you frequently revisit, so that means one fourth of the game is technology-based. Ironic, as not only is it chronologically the first Zelda game, but you actually have to travel to the past in order to see the technology. In addition, Skyloft has electric lighting, indoor plumbing, and maybe even a computer (in Beedle's Air Shop).
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
    • While Ganondorf apparently has met his final end a few times, the end of Ocarina of Time and the backstory to A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess has him sealed in a Dark World due to his immense power. Of course, his long isolation there gives him plenty of time to gather his strength, allowing him to break the seal and unleash havoc upon Hyrule once more.
    • There's also Vaati, except he's sealed in the Four Sword rather than any alternate dimension.
    • Malladus, Bellum, and Ocarina's Bongo Bongo are sealed deep beneath the worlds of their respective games.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Adventure Of Link, full stop. The first game was already a certain level of Nintendo Hard, but the second game took that and added Platform Hell and a hard-to-master combat system. Majora's Mask may count as well, as it can be hard to keep track of everything that resets with each "Groundhog Day" Loop. (Though an in-game "appointment book" helps.)
  • Shifting Sand Land: Since the beginning, typically termed the Gerudo Desert.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mostly to Mario. Link's Awakening has several enemies straight up lifted out of the Mario series (some can even be killed by jumping on them via the Roc's Feather,) the Chain of Deals sidequest starting out with a Yoshi plushie, and one character sending a fake picture of herself to her penpal where she looks like Princess Peach (she's actually a goat.)
    • It's confirmed by the longtime developers of the Zelda series that the trading sequences present in several games are inspired by Straw Millionaire, a Japanese Buddhist folk tale.
  • Sigil Spam: The Triforce is only the most prominent example. This series loves its recurring symbols. An incomplete but extensive list can be found here.
  • Silver Bullet: The Silver Arrow plays a crucial part in slaying Ganon in both the original Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past. Stab him as many times as you want with any sword in those games. Without the Silver Arrow finishing him off, Ganon will keep coming for more.
  • Skeleton Key: The first two Zelda games both had a key item that basically served as infinite keys for the remainder of the game.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: The games tend to be standalone, but there are three timelines that diverge at Ocarina of Time.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: Fantastic.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: Since the 3D games, minigames and timed switches use this method to tell you to hurry up. Then there's Majora's Mask, which takes the whole concept of limited time and uses it to mess with your head.
  • Sound of No Damage: Used for both Link's shield deflecting projectiles and enemies getting hit in armored areas.
  • Spin-Off: Link's Crossbow Training (of Twilight Princess), Freshly Picked Tingles Rosy Rupeeland (not of a specific game, but starring a recurring character) and an actual board game.
  • Spoiler Title: Link's Awakening and Twilight Princess.
    • Well, these games do provide alternate meanings for their titles earlier on: the title Link's Awakening could not only refer to the Good Morning, Crono opening sequence, but also to the location of the critical Ocarina item in an area you have to get into a bed and go to sleep to reach. And in Twilight Princess, Midna actually refers to Zelda by that title somewhat sarcastically.
  • Stab the Sky: Almost every time Link gets a sword, and a game mechanic in Skyward Sword.
  • Steam Punk: Elements of this began to appear after about 2000. Spirit Tracks had a train, Phantom Hourglass had a steamboat, and Termina in Majora's Mask was borderline Industrial Revolution, especially with the Great Bay temple.
  • Sticks to the Back: Jarring in Ocarina of Time, where Link is often depicted with his sword strapped to his back, but has no such strap in-game. Majora's Mask fixes this, as does the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time.
    • And yet not one game in the series explains how his shield stays put. In real life, they're usually strapped across the chest. Link apparently Velcros it to his scabbard.
  • Stock Video Game Puzzle: Every single one in the blasted book, what with the series basically being the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier for a large portion of them.
  • Strictly Formula:
    • Enter dungeon. Get item. Beat boss with item. Use item to enter next dungeon. Repeat.
    • And there's the other formula of "visit three dungeons, villain gains upper hand/escapes, visit three to seven more dungeons, final boss" that has been present since A Link To the Past. Skyward Sword mixed things a little by making the outside of the dungeons just as complex as the inside. However, critics and fans don't agree whether that changes the pattern in a meaningful way or not.
  • Surprise Creepy: There's a lot of foreboding and horror for a series that, before Spirit Tracks, was ostensibly rated E.
  • Super Drowning Skills: In the 2D games Link cannot touch water without certain items or he'll drown. Taken to the logical extreme in Oracle of Ages where you needed two separate items in game for two different depths of water.
  • Super Spit: The land-dwelling octopus-like creatures known as Octorocks spit rocks that can do damage.
  • Sword Beam: In the first game and some of the others, usually only when you are at full health, as well as in the Animated Adaptation.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The Master Sword in most games where it appears; the Phantom Sword in Phantom Hourglass.
  • Take Your Time: No matter how much your Exposition Fairy is nagging you to Continue Your Mission, Dammit!, feel free to Side Quest, Fetch Quest, and get Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer to your heart's content, unless there is actually some kind of timer on the screen.
  • Technicolor Blade: The Master Sword is bluish.
  • Temple of Doom
  • Tennis Boss:
    • Ganondorf and his Phantom most often. Their attacks can only be thrown back with the Master Sword, since it has the power to repel evil.
    • The Cubis sisters in Phantom Hourglass have to be defeated this way. Since the attacks even ricochet among the sisters themselves, the entire battle is dubbed "Dead Man's Volley" by them.
  • Themed Cursor: In the Wii and DS games they use these to show off the new controls. Twilight Princess has Navi as the Wiimote pointer. Phantom Hourglass used the Exposition Fairies as indicators of where you touch.
  • Theme Naming: Most of the dungeons throughout the series are named after either their element or their location.
  • The Reveal: Ever since A Link to the Past, almost every game has had at least one of these, ranging from "oh, that's pretty interesting" to "HOLY CRAP, DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?!"
    • A Link to the Past: Agahnim is actually Ganon's alter ego.
    • Link's Awakening: The whole game is the product of the Wind Fish dreaming; defeating the Nightmares will result in the Wind Fish waking and, thus, the disappearance of Koholint Island.
    • Ocarina of Time: Sheik is Zelda, and Ganondorf only obtained part of the Triforce.
    • Majora's Mask : Skull Kid was the "human" puppet of the titular mask.
    • Oracle of Ages/Seasons: The evil plans of the villains in both games were part of a plot to resurrect Ganon.
    • The Wind Waker: The King of Red Lions is King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, and Tetra is Zelda.
    • Four Swords Adventures: Ganon had been manipulating Vaati behind the scenes.
    • The Minish Cap: Ezlo was Vaati's mentor before Vaati turned him into a hat, Vaati was originally a Minish, and the Light Force is within Princess Zelda.
    • Twilight Princess: Ganondorf gave Zant his powers, and Midna is the Twilight Princess.
    • Phantom Hourglass: Oshus is the Ocean King.
    • Spirit Tracks: Byrne used to be a Lokomo.
    • Skyward Sword: Zelda herself is the goddess Hylia in human form, Ghirahim is essentially the Evil Counterpart to Fi, Demise creates Ganon as the manifestation of his own hatred, and the Old Woman at the Sealed Temple is actually Impa.
    • A Link Between Worlds: Lorule used to have a Triforce before its people destroyed it to prevent further bloodshed, Hilda sent Yuga and manipulated Link in order to obtain Hyrule's Triforce to save Lorule, and Ravio is Lorule's equivalent of Link.
  • Time Travel: Everywhere in the series and has been the central mechanic of two games (Ocarina of Time and Oracle of Ages).
  • Translation Convention: Whenever a character talks, we're supposed to think they're speaking Hylian. Jarringly apparent when a voiced character talks (except for Midna and Fi, who speak Simlish instead).
  • Thriving Ghost Town: To the extent that Hyrule itself could be called a Thriving Ghost Kingdom.
  • Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Throughout the series, the size of your average rupees has varied up to the size of Link himself.
  • Tsundere: In order of appearance and type:
  • Underground Monkey: They're usually not elemental, but different colored enemies indicate different strengths, especially in early games.
  • Underwater Ruins: Pretty much every single water-themed dungeon.
  • Unstoppable Mailman: Aside from Majora's Mask, where he doesn't deliver letters to you, the mailman in the games will always be able to find you to deliver letters.
    • The mailman in Majora's Mask is actually a deconstruction. He wants to stop and flee Termina before it's destroyed, but there's still mail that has to be delivered tomorrow. It takes an order from Madame Aroma, the Mayor's wife, to finally get him to abandon his duties and evacuate.

    V-X 
  • Variable Mix: The series has been increasingly embracing this to an awesome degree.
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Every game has one.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Death Mountain Labyrinth.
    • The Adventure of Link: Great Palace.
    • A Link to the Past: Ganon's Tower.
    • Link's Awakening: The Wind Fish's Egg.
    • Ocarina of Time: Ganon's Tower.
    • Majora's Mask: The Moon.
    • Oracle of Seasons: Onox's Castle/Room of Rites.
    • Oracle of Ages: The Black Tower/Room of Rites.
    • Four Swords: Vaati's Palace.
    • Wind Waker: Ganon's Tower.
    • Four Swords Adventures: Palace of Winds/Tower of Winds.
    • Minish Cap: Dark Hyrule Castle.
    • Twilight Princess: Hyrule Castle.
    • Phantom Hourglass: Temple of the Ocean King.
    • Spirit Tracks: The Dark Realm.
    • Skyward Sword: Sky Keep.
    • A Link Between Worlds: Lorule Castle.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Keep hitting those Cuccos. See what happens.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • Revenge of the Cuccos!
    • Also possible in Spirit Tracks if you hit Zelda with a boomerang, whip, etc.
    • Lampshaded in Spirit Tracks when Rael asks you to bring Cuccos to the Sand Sanctuary. Apparently, they're needed for research. "They are flightless. But, when cornered, they can call their friends to unleash an amazing power."
    • Also the pigs in The Wind Waker.
    • Steal from the merchant in Link's Awakening? Prepare to be zapped.
  • Video Game Tools: Many of the iconic items are these: Boomerang, Bombs, Bow and Arrow.
  • Villain-Beating Artifact: The Master Sword is the only thing that can hurt Ganon. Usually in concert with the Light Arrows, which are needed to weaken him enough to get close enough with the sword.
  • Visible Silence
  • Voice Grunting: The games with any "voice acting" use this exclusively, with the exceptions of the Tetra and the pirates in "Navi Trackers", Midna in Twilight Princess, and in Skyward Sword Zelda's singing voice and Fi, the last three speaking (or singing) Simlish.
  • The Walls Have Eyes: All over the damn place. You would be hard-pressed to find a Zelda game where there aren't eyes as switches.
  • Wise Tree: The Great Deku Tree serves as the page image.
  • Womb Level: Jabu Jabu's Belly.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: Most bosses follow the "expose the weak point with the dungeon's item, then whack it with your sword" schema.
  • Xenafication: Zelda has progressively become more active in the games as the series went on. Originally just a classic Distressed Damsel, in Ocarina of Time she gained the badass (though in drag alter-ego Sheik, who admittedly didn't do much against the actual Big Bad. But in the later games, starting with Wind Waker, it became her schtick to fire Light Arrows at Ganon during the final battle, and in Spirit Tracks she even helps Link push his sword into Malladus' head.
    • Also happened to Impa, who went from a frail old woman in the first two games to an Amazonian ninja in Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword. Though the latter actually had her in both roles.

    Y-Z 
  • You Have to Burn the Web: Ocarina of Time was one of the first video games to do this, showing up in the first dungeon. Later games have used the mechanic as well.
    • Subverted in Minish Cap — webs are sucked up with the Gust Jar.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: There's the Ocarina Songs from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, the Wind Waker's songs, and the sword fighting moves from Minish Cap, Twilight Princess, and Zelda II.
  • Younger Than They Look: Link, in his adult forms, is supposed to be around the age of 16 or 17, but artwork depicts him as looking around the age of 20 or 21.
  • Zip Mode: The games feature a variety of ways to speed your trek across the land of Hyrule.

"IT'S A SECRET TO EVERYBODY."
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alternative title(s): Legend Of Zelda; The Legend Of Zelda; The Legend Of Zelda; Legend Of Zelda
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