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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
The Legend Of Zelda Single Link Theory
This entry is for discussion of the theory that there is only a single Link, Zelda, and Ganon, resurrected and reincarnated by the power of the Triforce. Please keep said discussion off the main WMG page.

Main WMG Page: The Legend of Zelda

The games are in order as they appear, and each game adds experience to Link's reincarnated soul.
In the first games, he could only stab, but in the third, he could slash and spin. finally, in the 3-D games, Link can hack, slash, spin, and stab, as well as shoot lasers in Skyward Sword. (even though Skyward Sword is the first in the timeline...)
  • He can shoot lasers in every single 2D game, though. Skyward Sword is just the first time he can do it in 3D, at least without having to stick the vessel of a dark god to his face.

It's not just Link, Zelda, and Ganon reincarnating and resurrecting all over the place.
Impa and possibly the indeterminate male ruler who is usually Zelda's father in some way (He might be just a bloodline with EXTREMELY lucky genetics and other factors.) also reincarnate and ressurect. Impa shares the job of being the reincarnation/avatar of Hylia and Nayru's in-world champion with Zelda, respectively. Her reincarnation isn't so direct, resulting in the iconic differences between states. She cycles between Skyward Sword, Sheikah/Sage/etc. forms, CD-I form, the Oracle games form, back to CD-I form, and then back to Skyward Sword, possibly the other way around. Misplacement in timespace is due to the fact a timey-wimey ball is in effect and sometimes stages get skipped, leaving the way for more Impa forms to appear.
  • Skyward Sword form is Nayru because the Zelda of the era is Hylia. Triforce affinity is weird due to the fact this is in the early chronological form of the legend itself.
  • The majority of the Sheikah forms are Hylia because the Zeldas of that period usually have the Triforce Of Wisdom.
  • CD-I form is Nayru, and the Zelda is Hylia. Impa actively uses the Triforce of Wisdom herself and Zelda barely utilizes any of her powers granted by the Triforce.
  • Oracle of Seasons and Oracle Of Ages form is Hylia, because Zelda apparently HAS the Triforce around in the castle or something.
Link seems destined to reincarnate as a hero of Hyrule every few millenia or so. He's destined to balance the needs of the Law (The goddesses' will, which sometimes leads to ugly stuff like The Great Flood) and Chaos (Ganondorf, Majora, etc.). He's also drawn to the power of a magical sword, much like Elric of Melnibone's Stormbringer. (Link always seems to increase his attack strength after he obtains the Master Sword in the games, though he isn't "addicted" to the sword like Elric is), whenever Link gains a Heart or a Magic refill after killing an enemy could represent the Master Sword absorbing the souls of the monsters and giving their strength to Link. (Note how bosses, possessing a powerful soul than mooks, give out Heart Containers).

Alternatively, Link, Zelda, and Ganon are souls stuck in (no, not Purgatory) an endless cycle of Reincarnation.
Thus, they are forced to continue the same play with different lyrics throughout time forever, because they messed around with the Triforce. This is why King Daphnes chose to destroy the Triforce and Hyrule at the end of Wind Waker; so that they could be free.
  • Pretty sure that the Word of God confirmed this.
    • He did not.
    • Pretty sure he didn't. Mr. Miyamoto won't even say what order the games were, and I certainly have never seen any spiritual speculation on his part. Besides, Ganon(dorf) is always supposed to be the same person, in contrast to the many different Links and Zeldas. Not to mention, of course, that the games have never insinuated anything of the kind, other than each Link and Zelda containing parts of the Triforce (which is easily explained by saying it's part of each of their bloodlines).
    • Aha! He HAS died, in Twilight Princess, and was reborn in the exact same circumstances in Four Swords Adventure!
    • Plus, didn't Ganondorf say something in Wind Waker about the Hero of Winds being the Hero of Time reincarnated? Pretty sure that popped up somewhere.
      • After Puppet Ganon is defeated: "Yes, surely you are the Hero of Time, reborn..."
      • It seems to be a relatively common figure of speech in Japanese media to say that someone must be (insert legendarily skilled figure here) reborn. It's not usually meant literally, but more of a commentary on how good the character being so described is at what he does.
      • However, the Four Gods disagree, they say that this isn't the same soul in their weird language, which can only be read in the second playthrough.
      • Who are you gonna believe, a buncha know-it-all god wannabes who have, judging by their effectiveness, clearly never actually had to do the whole "guide a hero" thing before, or the pigman who's been doing his part in this this once every hundred years or so since the dawn of currently known history, and as such would be intimately familiar with the soul of the damn hero who has killed him so many times its a reflex?
      • More seriously, there is no evidence that what they say in the second playthrough where its translated is the same as in the first, where it is not. It could be that the Link of the second playthrough was not the same soul, which was why he wore a different outfit- as Twilight Princess shows, that little number is so deep a part of his being he spontaneously generates it when transforming in clothing-destroying situations. Link in the first playthrough, with the regular outfit, was the same soul as usual.
      • The gods do have the same dialogue in the first playthrough. Hylian is just a cipher for Japanese.
      • In actuality, none of them say anything about Link not being the Hero of Time reborn. It's always the King of Red Lions that claims that there is no relation between the two. The conversations normally go along the lines of "Hey, you found the Hero of Time!" "No, this kid ain't him." "Oh, really? Well, could've fooled me." In fact, the Great Deku Tree, AKA he-who-watched-over the-Hero-of-Time, even lapses into ancient Hylian the first time he meets the Hero of Winds, and it's only when Link clearly doesn't understand him that he reverts back to the modern tongue. He wouldn't do that if there wasn't something to set it off, and I don't think it was just the appearance, as the 13 year old Hero of Winds probably doesn't look exactly like either version (10 and 17) of the Hero of Time. (One wonders why a reincarnation would be expected to know more about an ancient dead language than any normal human, but that's a digression for another time).
    • This troper's fanfic is based on this entire theory. She admits it's not necessarily true or even plausible, but it made for a fun story to write.
    • Twilight Princess seems to have thrown a monkey wrench into this one. A ghost who is strongly implied to be the hero of Time show up to train you.
      • Aang could talk to ghosts of previous incarnations, so its not like there's no precedent for someone seeing a ghost of their pre-incarnation before.
      • Of course, that's assuming that the rules for reincarnation in Zelda are the same as in Avatar. The Hero's Shade refers to Link as his "child," implying a grandfatherly sort of relationship.
      • Actually, Wind Waker disproves reincarnation. The only mention of Link possibly being a reincarnation is a figure of speech. Not to mention how the soul of OoT Link DOESN'T EXIST in this timeline. Also, Adventure Of Link proves Zelda doesn't reincarnate.
      • Spirit Tracks shows that the Lokomo can reincarnate, and Skyward Sword gives us Zelda and Ganon as being respectively the reincarnations of Hylia and Demise's hatred (the latter's parting words also seem to hint at Link's "spirit of the hero" being eternally reincarnated as well). I'd say that reincarnation is pretty plausible.
      • Only the Zelda in Skyward Sword is a reincarnation. The rest merely have her blood. Spirit of the hero most likely refers to the "unbreakable spirit" mentioned earlier in the game as a must to be able to touch the Triforce without splitting. Hero's Shade disproves reincarnation, having the ghost of one Link still lingering while another is active. Ganon reincarnates in FSA, but that's it. Every other return is a resurrection.
      • Not necessarily. Zelda's descendants could go on to form the royal family post-SS and her soul could keep being reincarnated there. The Hero's Shade doesn't disprove reicarnation either since it could be a memory from Oo T!Link that resurfaced from some sort of hang up - considering he's from the child timeline where The Hero of Time didn't really exist. As for Ganon, it's irrelevant since SS proves all evils in the series could be an incarnation of Demise's hatred. The only problem with the reincarnation theory is WW because in the adult timeline there's "no Link", unless there's some time travel gimmick at work that makes it possible for Link's soul to still be in that timeline.

Not only is each Link a reincarnation of the previous one, but he retains memories of his past lives subconsciously
The evidence? Twilight Princess, Link to the Past, and Wind Waker. In Twilight Princess, he starts out not wearing the Hero Outfit, as, since its only the second time around, he doesn't realize that he's trapped in the cycle yet. When he's turned into an animal representation of himself, he's a wolf- strong, loyal, willing to die for the good of the pack, willing to rip the enemy's throat out at a moment's notice- not to mention with a distinct dark motif, showing how he still is willing to be as violent as necessary. This shows how Link is still fresh and the power of youth is flowing. In subsequent games- Link to the Past included- he doesn't seem to bother not wearing the Hero Outfit, as he now knows that its inevitable he be forced into adventure at a moment's notice, and he wants to be ready. By the time of Link to the Past, however, he's getting weary. He's done this so many times already that, at some level if not the conscious mind, he doesn't want to fight anymore- he just wants to run away and live in peace- something represented by the fact that his spirit is now an pacifistic anthropomorphic bunny- light, nonviolent, not scary, but not capable of heroics, either. A few cycles later, Link gets so sick of it all that he has the King at the time, Daphnes Nohansen, use the triforce to flood Hyrule, in an attempt to end it all so he can finally rest. Finally, in Wind Waker, he still doesn't consciously remember, but still does unconsciously, and as he unconsciously thinks its over, he's back to not wearing the Hero's outfit again until forced into it by circumstance. The King keeps telling everyone that "No, this isn't a reincarnation" not to convince the Spirits, but to keep Link from remembering consciously- something he had done when he had the world flooded- out of fear that if Link remembers again, he might just commit suicide and let Ganon win.
  • Alternatively, Link has slowly become more relaxed with the process, even finding simple enjoyment and relaxation in his downtime. The wolf is his early agression, the rabbit is when he has matured and relaxed. He has ceased to worry, and is busy being happy.
    • Did they only reincarnate for the big games? Or do they get 'downtime' lives?
      • It's the only thing keeping them sane; after Twilight Princess, Link was a peaceful shepherd, or a fisherman, for a life or two.
  • Alternatively again, Link is becoming dangerously apathetic/crazy. He'll unhesitatingly leap into bottomless pits, lava, and other hazards; he no longer fears, or cares about death. He's just adventuring to get it over with. His latest idea of relaxation is crossbow training.
    • Again, Wind Waker disproves reincarnation. The only mention of Link possibly being a reincarnation is a figure of speech. Not to mention how the soul of OoT Link DOESN'T EXIST in this timeline. Also, Adventure Of Link proves Zelda.
    • Also again, Spirit Tracks shows that the Lokomo can reincarnate, and Skyward Sword gives us Zelda and Ganon as being respectively the reincarnations of Hylia and Demise's hatred (the latter's parting words also seem to hint at Link's "spirit of the hero" being eternally reincarnated as well). I'd say that reincarnation is pretty plausible.
    • Only the Zelda in Skyward Sword is a reincarnation. The rest merely have her blood. Spirit of the hero most likely refers to the "unbreakable spirit" mentioned earlier in the game as a must to be able to touch the Triforce without splitting. Hero's Shade disproves reincarnation, having the ghost of one Link still lingering while another is active. Ganon reincarnates in FSA, but that's it. Every other return is a resurrection.
    • And yet again, not necessarily. Zelda's descendants could go on to form the royal family post-SS and her soul could keep being reincarnated there. The Hero's Shade doesn't disprove reicarnation either since it could be a memory from Oo T!Link that resurfaced from some sort of hang up - considering he's from the child timeline where The Hero of Time didn't really exist. As for Ganon, it's irrelevant since SS proves all evils in the series could be an incarnation of Demise's hatred. The only problem with the reincarnation theory is WW because in the adult timeline there's "no Link", unless there's some time travel gimmick at work that makes it possible for Link's soul to still be in that timeline.

The cycle of reincarnation the Triforce bearers are in is responsible for the Medieval Stasis
As long as Link, Ganondorf, and Zelda remain in their cycle of reincarnation, technology remains the same. Then, all of a sudden, after Wind Waker where Link ends the cycle by ending the Triforce, Hyrule, and sealing G-dorf and the Master Sword permanently, all of a sudden, we have a steam ship, implying an industrial revolution. Why then? Answer: whatever is perpetuating the reincarnation cycle is also magically keeping technology from advancing. Considering the triforce is likely the power in question that kept them in the cycle, this of course means that the Goddesses are less benevolent than we were led to believe. Or, they just didn't want pollution.
  • Or, alternatively, technology is set back a bit every time Ganondorf shows up and messes up peoples' shit.
    • Want even more evidence? The new DS game Spirit Tracks. They have a train!
Wind Waker Link is a fan boy.
Think about it: he dresses up like the Hero of Time, takes photos of people in silly outfits, and collects figurines- Very much like a fan boy.
  • Not just a Fanboy! He's an Ascended Fanboy. After all, he's specifically stated as not being the true reincarnation, and does all those things, yet he still gets the sword and saves the day.
    • Except that wearing those clothes is a tradition on the island. It's like calling a Jewish person a fanboy because he has a Bar Mitzvah and his hero had a Bar Mitzvah.
      • Link actually disliked the clothes. He calls them itchy and after he puts them on he moves around in a manner that indicates discomfort. Also your analogy is not perfect but I get the point.

Ganondorf's continuous reincarnations are actually a Batman Gambit intended to prevent Link from destroying the Hyrulian economy.
Since weapons are the only means of wealth production (besides the one shovel in the world), and most friendly NPCs don't have any, Link could fairly easily amass the GDP of the entire world within a few hours. The only thing stopping him from dumping all that money on the market and causing massive inflation (or just buying the world) is his constant questing against Ganondorf. This makes even more sense when you consider that since all the random monsters in the world controlled all the means of production in the pre-Link economy, friendly NPCs must be subsisting off of them. Since it's unclear what the humans could provide the monsters in return, this probably puts humans in the position of the bourgeoisie to the monsters' proletariat. This troper is sure this makes the games propaganda for something, but he has no idea what.
  • And, considering in the web show There Will Be Brawl, as Ganondorf stated that this is how Hyrule fell, it's not impossible Link was able to do this.
    • The problem with this is that Ganon has only reincarnated once. But exchange it with resurrection and it still works.

The cycle of reincarnation and eternal war with Link and Zelda is the Gambit of the Goddesses to one day redeem Ganon.
To quote the Bible, Ganon keeps "kicking against the goad." The goddesses must seal him away, but they want him to one day turn to the side of good. So, they intentionally release him every so often to give him another chance. So far, he always turns bad, and must be defeated by that era's Link and Zelda. One day, he may see the futility of it all, and fulfill his true purpose, because...
  • Believe it or not, this is inverted with Skyward Sword; the eternal cycle of reincarnation is a Batman Gambit by Demise, the reason basically dumbing down to him wanting to make their reincarnations suffer.

The 'different version of the same legend' theory is true, but there is also a Timeline
Miyamoto himself said that he originally planned for the series to be different takes on the same overall tale. Later it the stated that the series has a definitive timeline. I figure both are true. The games do follow a specific order (that only he knows) but in game, the legend continually gets corrupted through Pig-man induced traumas, and continued lost history. So certain races don't disappear, they simply aren't mentioned in that particular version, or are changed into something else (Zoras to Zolas anyone?). Locations don't move; the story tellers just don't know their geography. Things get mixed up, forgotten, confused, and then, we throw in Ocarina of Time, leading to a Timey-Wimey Ball, and a mixed up legend. But there is a timeline, and things did happen in a certain order, it's just the details that are muddled.

Ganon/Ganondorf is a multiversal singularity
There is only one Ganondorf. There is only one Ganon. No matter in what way the timeline is split—It will always be the same Ganon. He exists outside of time, and enters the world as Ganondorf. Once (if) he reclaims his power, he becomes Ganon — before being resealed. EG. The Ganondorf from Wind Waker is the exact same one as the one in Twilight Princess — even though they exist in different timelines.
  • Alternatively, Demise only had enough hatred to empower one version of Ganondorf at a time.

The Zelda in Zelda II is the same one from the first
Sure, the instruction manual says it's a different one, but the game itself just says "Princess Zelda" and what kind of creep gives a full-on kiss to a guy she literally met seconds ago? And also, how'd she know his name?
  • She knows a previous incarnation of Link.

There is only one Link, sent as a messenger of the Goddesses.
Going off of the "multiple Links but his soul reincarnates" theories, there is only one Link, who is simply dropped into the world by the Goddesses when they need him. He is dropped in at the optimal age at the optimal time. Oh, and with his entire back-life accounted for. Naturally, he retains memories of his adventures, however faint they may be.

  • Would explain why he's sleeping in the beginning of the majority of the games. He just fell from the sky and is still unconscious.
    • Exactly. In the Oracle games, you can actually see him being dropped into the world, along with a plea from the triforce for him to accept their quest, and the fall into the world knocks him out for a while in "Seasons."
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, though, there's a scene of Link and Rusl gathering firewood before the "wake up, Link!" scene. That doesn't seem to factor into things well.
    • The original post didn't specifically say ALL games start with Link sleeping. Zelda 1 and Adventure of Link come to mind as games where this doesn't happen. On a different note, it'd be cool to see a fanfic series tackle it from this perspective. To the word processor...!
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