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Tear Jerker / The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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Unmarked spoilers below.
"Everything I've done up until now... it was All for Nothing..."
  • The very state of Hyrule can bring tears in the eyes of many Zelda players, rivaling that of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The kingdom that many came to recognize and remember is now just ruins, buried by the wilderness with little to no civilization visible across the land. All familiar aspects are either gone or nearly forgotten, exemplified by the Master Sword lying in its pedestal, rusted from the passage of time. Somewhat lessened with the first official trailer, where the focus is on a bustling village full of people.
    • One video essay on the game's score suggests that the use of silence and of broken-sounding melodies (such as the one that plays during daytime) evoke feelings of a broken world suffering from a great loss.
    • The sheer number of ruined villages and farmholds: they are everywhere and outnumber the still-inhabited settlements (which are comparatively few and far between) by far. As the game progresses, it becomes clear that Hyrule was once a much, much more densely populated kingdom. It eventually veers into nightmarish territories as each new ruin found hammers home the fact that Hyrule wasn't merely invaded and didn't merely lose its royal castle and citadel. Its population ended up on a genocide's receiving end 100 years ago.
    • The first thing the King asks you to do after revealing the truth of what happened in the Calamity: save his daughter. it becomes especially tearjerking when you find out how strained their relationship was before he died, how they never had the chance to fix things between them, and how much guilt he must have felt for the pressure he put on her. "Heir to a Throne of Nothing", indeed.
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    • At one point, you can actually visit what seem to be the remnants of the Lon Lon Ranch.
    • On a similar note, you can also stumble across the Arbiter's Grounds from Twilight Princess. In that game, it was a large, imposing building, and one of the best dungeons in said game and the whole series. Here, nothing is left of it aside from a few blocks of architecture.
    • When you eventually get to Hyrule Castle Town and Hyrule Castle itself, it's not much better. When you look back at those places as they were during games like Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, or The Minish Cap and recall how these places were a testament to Hyrule's days as a peaceful and thriving kingdom reduced to ruins dominated by evil, it's pretty darn depressing to watch, not helped when you enter certain parts of Hyrule Castle where a very somber and bittersweet version of the iconic zelda theme music plays in the background, as if to remind veteran players of what this castle used to be.
  • One of the very first signs of the state of the kingdom and how much time has passed is the ruins of the Temple of Time. Located near the cave where Link woke up, it's in very bad shape. Being one of the most iconic and important places in the franchise, it will definitely pull a few strings for players seeing this for the first time.
    • While the Temple of Time was seen in ruins back in Twilight Princess, that version of the temple had simply been abandoned and crumbled over the ages, and players at least had a chance to go back in time and see how magnificent it used to be. Here, the temple isn't just in ruins; it's surrounded by inactive Guardians. This version of the Temple of Time wasn't broken down by the wear and tear of the elements... it was outright assaulted and ripped apart by servants of Ganon.
  • The Master Sword, lying alone in the woods, covered in rust, full of gouges. Poor Fi...
  • Link's situation, as he was asleep for 100 years. And the fact he's mostly alone, likely clueless of what happened, in this Hyrule that's in ruins, can bring a tear to one's eyes. In fact, it's possible he doesn't even know how he got there.
  • The scene in the release date trailer where Zelda cries in Link's arms. Even without context, seeing a character like Zelda break down sobbing like that is heartwrenching.
    Zelda: Everything I've done up until now... It was all for nothing...
    • How to top that moment? How about watching it in 8 different languages?
    • It's especially sad in the Japanese version, as Zelda's crying in that version is extremely loud and realistic-sounding to the point of sounding horrifying.
    • Now that the context of the moment has been revealed, it's even more heartbreaking: Zelda is weeping because, despite all their preparations, everything has gone wrong—leading to the deaths of her father, the Champions, and the destruction of most of the kingdom. The kicker? She's supposed to be the one who can seal Calamity Ganon away, but she utterly failed in unlocking her hidden power. As far as Zelda's aware, the cataclysm and death of nearly everyone she ever knew is due to her own incompetence.
      Zelda: It's all my fault! Our only hope for defeating Ganon is lost all because I couldn't harness this cursed power! Everything — Everything I've done up until now... It was all for nothing...! [voice breaking] So I really am just a failure! All my friends... the entire kingdom... my father most of all... I tried, and I failed them all... I've left them... all to die.
      • When she was seven. SEVEN! She nearly drowned herself trying to unlock her sealing powers. She put so much effort into unlocking her powers, nearly killing herself in the process and yet it didn't work. She failed.
    • Look at Link's face as Zelda is breaking down. It's apparent that he feels desperately sorry, both for her and for this entire situation — all he can do is wordlessly hug her as she starts bawling in his arms.
  • Related to the previous, poor Zelda is such a woobie in this game. She's more of an academic than a leader, and yet she's expected to be able to seal away Ganon when the moment arrives, despite having no guidance on how to unlock her power (since the Queen died before Zelda's training began). The future of the entire kingdom rests on her shoulders; Link and the other Champions can wound Ganon over and over, but only Zelda can lock him away. Yet, no matter how hard she studies and prays, she can't figure it out.
    • This self-loathing is personified in one of her diary entries. Throughout the memories, we witness Zelda being pretty cold towards Link; part of this is because she resents that, contrary to her, Link is a born leader and hero. But it's also because she fears that Link is silently judging her because of her inability to access her Triforce powers—she thinks Link actually hates her.
  • The fact you can't find items like rupees by cutting down tall grass anymore. Why is this a Tear Jerker? In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, it's revealed that the Picori put out the items there, because they love humans. So either a race of lovable mouse elves went extinct, or something happened that soured their views on humanity. Or maybe the world is just so bad that they don't have the resources to do it anymore.
    • If you look hard enough, you can find rupees under some rocks, as well as a few pots in the outskirts of society. This arguably makes things worse, since that means the Picori are still trying to help humans, with no guarantee of success.
    • In the Making Of videos, the dev team mention that they tried really really hard to get the Picori and their villages into the game, even showing screenshots of it. They had to be cut because it broke the flow of the game and the mechanics didn't play nice. Considering how much of Breath of the Wild is a love letter to the entire franchise with some of the most obscure references ever, the fact the Picori literally could not be put in the game as intended is just heartbreaking.
      • On a similar note, The Kokiri were originally planned to make a return in the game, and even were going to have a Champion, only to be replaced by the Rito. This means the all-child race may be long gone, with their arboreal successors, the Korok, being the only trace of them left.
  • If you get into a tough fight while on horseback, your horse can be killed—and won't come back—if you're not careful. Unlike enemies and other animals, who turn into a puff of smoke when killed, its body just stays where it died. Even worse, when other people are attacked by enemies, they get knocked down, but get up after the danger has passed. So when the player witnesses a horse die for the first time, it might take a while to realize that he is not getting back up.
  • Link is alone. Let that sink in. He's got no companion to accompany him during this dangerous quest. Previous Zelda games showcased Link's companion along with him in their respective trailers. This means that those Links had a friend to support him, to share in his burdens even if they themselves couldn't physically fight (ala King of Red Lions). This Link? Completely and utterly alone. No one to travel with him, no one to support him on the road. It's just him against an ungodly Eldritch Abomination. Even Word of God stated that their intent was to make you feel isolated, like you're the only living human being/Hylian within miles.
    • The Sheikah Slate was originally going to be said companion, but was scrapped. Wolf Link can technically count as a companion.
    • You start to become attached to the Old Man in the opening plateau, he's always where you seem to be heading. Gives you tips on hunting, cooking, resting, shrines, exploring, and so on. Then he reveals who he really is, shares his sad story, before entrusting you to shut down Ganon for good, then passes on. And when he's gone... you feel like you lost a dear friend. As you wander around the plateau couldn't feel more alone.
      • If you return to the Plateau after he departs, you can still find baked apples—his favorite snack—at spots he liked to hang out. But the fires he kept kindled are all cold.
      • Longtime fans of The Wind Waker may be reminded of the King of Red Lions, aka King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, another aged mentor with a slight sense of humor, who was revealed to be the long-dead king of a ruined Hyrule, and who had befallen a similar fate. Roahm's ascension may hit a little harder for this reason...
      • It's even worse when you find out more about his relationship with Zelda: Needless to say, it wasn't the best. He constantly belittled her interests and put an enormous amount of pressure on her to tap into her divine power, which likely directly contributed to her inability to do so. It's clear that he greatly regrets how he treated her, as well as the fact that it ultimately contributed to the downfall of his kingdom, and everything he does for Link, he's doing as a last-ditch attempt to make up for all his past failures. Finally, he ends up passing on before Zelda is rescued, meaning he never gets a chance to see her again. Aside from afar at the end of the game that is, as he returns briefly along with the champions.
      • The meaning behind one particular line becomes clearer once you've recalled these later memories; after explaining to Link the process of fast-travelling using the Sheikah Slate, the Old Man turns away and mutters quietly to himself that he's been told that's how it works, but he doesn't actually know for sure... In hindsight, it's clear that this was something Zelda tried explaining to him when he was alive, likely to no avail. The King has been musing all this time over how foolish it was of him to have dismissed his daughter's enthusiasm for ancient technology as irrelevant to her role, and how differently things might have been if he hadn't. Because of his own shortsightedness, his limited knowledge of this technology is the only resource Link has available at a time when he most needs to understand it—it's all the old man is good for now, and he hates himself for it.
    • He's also seen riding with Zelda at certain points...but this is merely a memory.
    • There's an in-game explanation for why Link never speaks: eventually, he explained to Zelda that the pressure and responsibility weigh so heavily upon him that the only way he can cope and prevent from cracking is to remain silent and stoic. So even before the kingdom fell, Link felt very alone.
      • This is made worse when you read Revali's diary in the Champion's Ballad DLC: apparently, he actually tried to talk to Link, but the latter remained stoic and silent, again likely out of this fear, so Revali was insulted by this and called trying to get him to open up a "waste of time". It's pretty sad to think that if Link hadn't felt such pressure under his role as the savior of Hyrule/Zelda's bodyguard, they could have possibly been friends — or friendlier than they were, anyway.
      • And then there's this YouTube comment for Revali's cutscene from the Champion's Ballad:
        SteelWolfSentinel: When I read Revali's journal, I was struck by how much he worries about himself. I didn't take it as a sign of arrogance (otherwise he would have asked for a statue). He asked for a shooting range to be built for him instead, and to me that suggested that he secretly felt inferior, lacking self-confidence; and that knowing how many other Rito looked up to him and relied on his strength made it all the more stressful. Having a shooting range would let him keep his skills in top form, and probably be a place of peace and solitude.

        Consider that he was simply a skilled archer among the Rito; not a leader like Daruk; not a princess like Mipha; not a chieftain like Urbosa; and not an appointed knight of Hyrule like Link. Consider also that the other three champions had their abilities for a long time; Revali had to develope his Gale on his own, making it that much more personal.

        As arrogant as he could seem, I just can't bring myself to hate him.
    • However, at his highest before going to fight Calamity Ganon, the closest Link has to companions are the deceased spirits of the Champions lending him their power, some fairies, Zelda via telepathy, and a dormant Fi in the Master Sword.
  • The final photo memory. Dear God!
    • Link is literally dying in this scene. This is something that's never been shown in any Zelda game ever, let alone with this level of visual brutality. Both him and Zelda look like they've been through the wringer. The moment he finally collapses and Zelda bursts into tears for the man she loves is especially intense.
    • The scene is even more intense in the Japanese text and other languages that stuck closer to it: Zelda doesn't tell Link "you're going to be fine". She literally begs him not to die.
      Please don't die!
    • Link's near-death is heartbreaking in multiple ways, but players of Skyward Sword are bound to recognize the musical chime the Master Sword emits to get Zelda's attention—and if you listen closely, a familiar leitmotif connected to that chime plays. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment too.
    • What makes the entire sequence of the final four memories hit even harder is that throughout them, Zelda is shown wearing the same, increasingly disheveled ceremonial gown that she wore for the ritual at the Spring of Wisdom, even though in the previous flashbacks, she had thoroughly averted the Limited Wardrobe trope by regularly switching between her royal, traveling, and ceremonial attires. It is a small detail, but it really sells how utterly underprepared and desperate the heroes were on that fateful day, a hundred years ago.
  • In some twisted manner, one could view Ganon's state of being by now as this. Born out of Demise's Curse, he was still a man, and once wanted his home, the Gerudo Desert, to prosper as Hyrule did...but the curse did not allow it, and he was doomed to always fight against Link and Zelda. Now, he's a primal monster, without any shred of the original thief king left beyond possibly his own rotting skull. Barely anybody that knows of the Calamity Ganon remembers he had, at one point, been a man, and refer to the Calamity Ganon as an it.
    • It gets worse with the reveal that Ganon has pretty much given up reincarnating just to unleash absolutely everything he's got just to kill you. It's mitigated (or made worse) by Zelda mentioning that Ganon will someday return from being sealed away, meaning he's still not finished off.
    • Worse? Even when his human form never showed up, his Ganon form was typically still humanoid in shape. Here, Ganon is so far gone he can't even manage that anymore, only a barely humanoid monstrosity with the barest vestiges of his original self remaining.
    • And worse still, the current Gerudo see him as an affront to their people, saying it disguised itself as one of them. Time and/or the Gerudos themselves have disowned Ganon of his birth heritage, meaning that just like Zelda, his struggles were, in a way, All for Nothing, as he failed completely to achieve his goals.
    • Adding to to the pile, Ganon, when he breaks free in the future, will still be in his beast form. Because he gave up reincarnation, he can never become an actual person again.
      • Or maybe not; the Japanese version states that Ganon's final transformation is only one of his further attempts to reincarnate, not him giving up on it like in the English version.
    • The sequel trailer may make this even worse. It shows Link and Zelda finding a mummified, but still-moving corpse that most believe is Ganondorf's original body, which because of how long ago Calamity Ganon first appeared, may mean he was reduced to that form as much as 10,000 years ago.
  • Ganondorf's horse, or at least its descendant, perhaps the only living thing he might have treated well, is found in the wilderness, the Last of His Kind.
  • The Zora's Domain quest and the Zora's Armor description make it explicit that shy, sweet Mipha intended to propose to Link, but was killed before she could do so.
    • More on Mipha...In one of Link's memories of the time he spent with her, she reminisces about how she always used to heal his injuries when they were young, no matter what it was that had befallen him, and promises him that despite the unknowns the return of Ganon might bring, she will always be ready and willing to heal him, whenever he may need her. As we later find out, Link came dangerously close to dying due to Ganon corrupting the Guardians and the Divine Beasts, and Mipha couldn't be there to heal him like she promised, because she was trapped inside Vah Ruta. Just picture the thoughts that had to be going through her head in the 100 years since then, when no one came to rescue her, and she had no knowledge of what almost had happened.
    • While the other Champions put on a brave face, Mipha's is just heartbreaking. After defeating Waterblight Ganon, she admits she nearly gave up hope and was resigned to A Fate Worse Than Death, trapped in a corrupted Vah Ruta for eternity. It wasn't until seeing her love, Link, arrive that restored her hope.
  • Prince Sidon is cheerful, encouraging, and never gives up at all. Despite all that, there are a few things that bring him down quite a lot. Mipha was his older sister, who was killed by the Waterblight Ganon. While he never shows it unless you sneak up on him. he's still in mourning over his sister and wishes she was still alive so that she could guide him. If you catch him like this, he weakly apologizes for displaying a moment of weakness. He also has a bit of self-loathing since he feels like he was being very intrusive and pushy on Link when he asked for his help. When Ruta is calmed by Link, Dorephan praises Sidon and Link for their efforts, but Sidon feels like he doesn't deserve any credit because he didn't do anything besides help Link get inside Ruta. Despite being strong for his people and doing what he can to help them, Sidon feels like he won't always be able to live up to everyone's expectations. And just to pile it on even more, Sidon could have been Link's brother-in-law had Mipha not died since she was planning to marry Link after Calamity Ganon was defeated. Poor guy needs a hug.
    • Dorephan is pretty chummy and friendly like his son, Sidon, but there's one seeded disturbance that makes the Zora king become solemn. Not only he was the father of Mipha, but he also knew of his daughter's love for Link and how she crafted the Zora Armor for him as her intention for a marriage proposal. Dorephan approved of this and was looking forward to seeing his daughter marry the Hylian Champion. Not only that, but unlike everyone else in his kingdom, Sidon included, he's still been hoping against all odds that Mipha is alive within Vah Ruta after all of this time, just trapped and needing to be rescued. When Link brings the news that he saw and spoke to Mipha's ghost, Dorephan holds it together, but you can see in his face that he is heartbroken. He tells Link how Mipha always loved him and asks him to never forget her. To be the one to give a father the news that their "missing" daughter is indeed dead after a century of not knowing for sure is damn depressing.
    • Related to the two above, when Mipha's soul is freed and atop Ruta to help Link, she expresses how much she misses her father and wished she could see him one last time. Not a word about her little brother, just the father she knows was worried sick about her. At least Daruk got to see his descendant Yunobo when he gets his own Divine Beast into position, but this broken family just gets to stay as it was before Link helped.
  • Throughout the story, Link is accosted by people who angrily accuse him of failing to save the Champions from their horrific fates. It hammers home that Link, for the first time since Ocarina of Time, utterly failed the people of Hyrule, and his failures have not been forgotten, but rather continue to be held over his head.
    • It's even worse when you look at it from his point of view: you just woke up from a century-long slumber. You have no memory of who you are or where you're from, and the world before you is completely unfamiliar (not to mention dangerous). Yet everyone else knows who you are, and will gladly point out how you failed to stop the world from going to hell. And you have no idea why they blame you.
  • In Memory #13 Zelda, while praying to Hylia to awaken her power, breaks down about how she's spent her entire life praying, that she's set to inherit some kind of power but doesn't know how or what, and that her father dismisses her interests as 'playing at being a scholar'. The scene ends with her asking a quiet, pitiful question, audibly on the verge of tears, that perfectly sums up how this Zelda feels about the weight on her shoulders and where she believes the blame to lie.
    Zelda: Please just tell me... What is it...? What's wrong with me?!
  • It's not brought up much, but Urbosa had to live with the fact that the greatest evil Hyrule has ever known was spawned from among her own people.
  • A Gerudo's husband whom she clearly loves fell ill. There is a cure, but it only comes from the innards of an incredibly fearsome beast called the Molduga. She's forced into a terrible situation, and has given up hope because nobody has ever slain the beast.
    • However, you're given the option to help her by going out there to slay the beast and give her the guts needed to help her husband.
  • In Gerudo Town, there is an NPC named Deltan who is at the Noble Canteen, a place that sells drinks that "only adults can drink" (this is a Nintendo game after all). You find her there on a table with her head down, sobbing over multiple failed relationships with guys she liked. Note that there's 3 bottles next to her. Yup. This is a woman who is drinking her sorrows away in a Nintendo game. Hits even harder for anyone who ever went though a similar situation.
    • One of her lines in particular is really heartbreaking.
      Deltan: "I'm engaged" *sigh* I can't even be angry at that one...
    • The other lamentations aren't much better, mostly for how much of a Jerkass it establishes her never-were boyfriends as being: one rejected her for having long hair... after she grew it out for him in the first place, one rejected her for learning to cook for him, and the last one rejected her because of her height. It makes you wish both that you could give her a hug and that you could find these jerks and give them a well-deserved punch.
  • A piece of Heartwarming that is also simultaneously Tearjerker. Whenever you're at a bridge and get on the edge of it while a friendly NPC is there, they'll immediately try to talk you off of it as if you're about to commit suicide...but let's look at why NPCs would say such a thing. It's clear that Hyrule really hit the fan when Calamity Ganon showed up, and for the century afterwards, they've have been plagued by monsters who respawn every few nights underneath a blood red moon making them have Resurrective Immortality, a Clan of Shiekah known as the Yiga who signed up with Ganon and decided to kill all Hylians who crossed their paths for a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal they suffered in the past, and absolute loads of monsters who could kill anyone with a single blast from their Eye Beam. The generally depressed state of Hyrule makes it sorrowfully clear that it'd be very hard not to fall off the Despair Event Horizon for those who are most affected by these events. Add the factor that many NPCs have the same reaction, and it's clear that many people have been Driven to Suicide.
  • In the last of Zelda's journal entries, which was written on the day Calamity Ganon returns, she mentions how she hasn't seen her father since the argument they had a few days ago. She never sees her father again, because he is killed during Ganon's attack.
    • You can also find her father's journal, the last entry of which was written around the same time. He regrets treating Zelda as harshly as he has, and resolves to treat her kindly regardless of what happens after her last attempt at awakening her powers. He never got a chance to.
    • The last sentence of her journal is even more tragic, as it shows that she almost predicted the Calamity. The textbox of the diary, as if to hammer this in, pauses on each sentence fragment to let you know how just how close Hyrule was to getting some kind of warning before everything went wrong.
    Zelda's Diary: Right now, for no particular reason, I am filled with a strange and terrible certainty that something awful is about to happen.
  • When you complete the sidequests in Kakariko Village, you'll notice the guards are on high alert, and once you enter Impa's house, you'll notice Paya is on her knees crying because the Sheikah ball was stolen. Once you find out the Yiga Clan was responsible, you'll want to enact a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for putting someone like her in that position.
    • Once you find out Dorian's backstory, you'll want to do more than the above rampage. More than likely, you'll abuse Stasis like DIO and The World to actively slaughter the Yiga to the last man; or if you want to be cruel, use Ancient Arrows. Dorian was a former member of the Yiga Clan, but his wife was the reason why he defected. Unfortunately, the clan caught wind of this and murdered her, leaving Koko and Cottla without a mother. Upon his grief, he gave away information about Kakariko Village and Link in exchange for their lives, but they decided he outlived his usefulness. Had Link not intervened, they could have succeeded.
    • After learning Dorian's backstory, some of the actions and dialogue of his daughters — Cottla and Koko — become incredibly heartbreaking.
      • Koko is extremely determined to learn and improve on her cooking prowess, often scolding herself and saying her mother would be disappointed when she forgets some of her needed ingredients. Once the fate of said mother is revealed, it becomes clear to the player that Koko is trying to fill some of the void left behind by her late mother, for the sake of her little sister and father
      • At certain times in the day, Cottla can be found running around Kakariko Village. If Link talks to her, she will tell him she's looking for her mother (occasionally phrased as if they are playing Hide and Seek together) and will wonder where she is. Cottla is so young that she doesn't quite grasp the reality of what happened to her mother, and still spends much of her days searching for her, and as Koko will tell you if you interrupt her crying at her mother's grave, their dad doesn't even want to tell them she's gone. Koko had to figure that out for herself at her own young age.
      • Every morning, Koko runs off by herself to the tree where her mother was buried and weeps. She tells you she does it when she does so she can have some privacy and so nobody knows she's doing it. The poor girl has been wrecked by the loss, and her father has no idea how hard it hit her.
  • On a Meta level, you have another one at the very end of the Staff Credits: Satoru Iwata is credited as Executive Producer alongside Tatsumi Kimishima. This is the last time we'll ever see his name credited in a Zelda game.
  • It's subtle, but something about seeing the broken Mirror of Twilight tugs at the heartstrings of those who played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
  • The fact that Fi remains somewhere in the Master Sword, even thousands of years later, still serving her master the best she can is a major bittersweet tearjerker for Skyward Sword players.
  • After Link finds out that Impa's Sheikah heirloom had been stolen, the guards outside her home inform him that only two villagers had entered Impa's home since the theft — Mellie and Lasli. As they are suspects, Link tails both of them when they wander off suspiciously the next night. Neither turn out to be the thief, however, it's where Lasli was sneaking off to that really tugs at the heartstrings. Turns out she was visiting the grave of, as she puts it, her true love. She explains that he passed a long time ago, but she still visits his grave because she still misses him and has never been able to find someone who compares.
    • What's even sadder is that she mentions that nobody knows about it, not even her co-worker (and presumed friend) at the clothing shop she works at. This implies one of two scenarios; either her relationship with the guy was, for whatever reason, a secret, or she simply had an unrequited love with him and they were never an actual couple. Both are pretty equally heartbreaking, and made even worse due to there being no real dialogue option to offer her proper comfort or sympathy.
  • Among the Champions, each of their tribes took great pains to honor their memories as seemed fit, with one exception. Mipha has a beautiful statue in the center of the domain and a festival held in her name with a replica of her Weapon of Choice as a focal point. Daruk also has a statue of himself in his hometown (alongside some other Gorons), his champion's scarf is being passed down in his family which is still going strong, and even his signature technique has been preserved thanks to his bloodline. Urbosa has children imitating her because she's such a strong role model for them, one of her helmets is still a highly prized heirloom for the current chief, and where most of the Champions only have their one weapon preserved, she has both her sword and shield. Meanwhile, Revali has... a landing named after him, and even that we see existed well before he died in one of Link's earliest memories. That's basically it. No one in his village is physically capable of using his signature bow anymore, much less mimic his aerial technique, it's unclear if he has any descendants due to how young he was when he died, and there is no imagery of him or songs in his memory to be found. He was an arrogant jerk (to Link) from what we saw of him, but this can seem pretty harsh, since he seems so disconnected from his people compared to the others and it's not clear if it's just a result of how much time has passed or not.
    • Revali does at least still have people remember him enough to aspire to be like him, like Urbosa does, so it may not be as bad as it first seems. Now, Link, on the other hand? No statues, no landmarks...really, nothing besides some older Hylians vaguely remembering that a Hylian Champion once existed and died. Other than the Sheikah and the resentful older generation of Zora, it doesn't seem like they even remember his name and unlike the other champions his Weapon of Choice doesn't help since the Master Sword is legendary in its own right instead of being unique to him as a person.
      • Softened somewhat when you recall that King Dorephan and some of the young adult Zoras do remember him fondly, having been friends with him when they were children. Bazz, for example, is ecstatic to see Link again, and proudly tells him that his help with Bazz's sword training got him to where he is now as captain of the guard. Revali, on the other hand, while highly praised by his people for his skill, is never really mentioned to have any actual friends among them.
    • This is made a bit better by the Champions' Ballad, which shows Kass, a member of his kind, writing a song to honor him as he does the other Champions, and reveals through Revali's journal that the Flight Range was first made for his personal use.
    • In additional dialogue in the Champions' Ballad, Revali laments that there is no one still alive in Rito Village who knew him. It's jarring for being one of the few times he's not acting prideful or arrogant.
  • The fact that Link probably doesn't remember his own parents. Unlike just about every other Zelda game, where Link has no parents to speak of, in this one Zelda mentions that Link's father was also a Knight. Since most of his memories are presumably still lost by the end of the game, and his childhood home—possibly the only thing that could trigger his memories of his family to return—is probably rubble, it's very likely he'll never remember them.
    • Unless you count Memory 11. Perhaps just mentioning he had a father could be enough to bring Link around. But there's still the sadness that they're passed away like Zelda's father.
    • Unused concept art would have revealed that Link had a sister.
  • Collectively the memories themselves tend to be heartbreaking, especially when you get them out of order. Each memory gained tends to go from bittersweet to outright heartbreaking, and it ultimately serves as a reminder that Link is the only one left of his True Companions.
  • Another meta example, at least for Wii U fans; the fact that the Wii U version is the last Nintendo-published game on that system, after it had already been discontinued. Sure, the day was coming, especially after the announcement of the Nintendo Switch, but it can still be sad knowing that the day finally came.
  • The Great Fairies' interaction with Link ranges from, shall we say, "enthusiastic" to "borderline sexual assault". But think about this. Link is the first to visit them in a century. They've been all alone for that time, with no one around but the minor fairies that hang out around their springs. The enthusiasm is joy at having someone see them again.
  • Satori Mountain is visible over Kass's shoulder during the final cutscene of the Champions' Ballad DLC. There is a chance that the Lord of the Mountain may be spawned at the mountain at the moment, which will give the mountain its telltale ghostly glow. Given that Satori is a tribute to the late Satoru Iwata, this adds extra weight to Kass's last line, "A final thought... May the souls of the Champions who watch over Hyrule rest in peace."
  • The backstory behind Akkala Citadel is tale of the fall of the Knights of Hyrule and the Kingdom of Hyrule itself. The Citadel was said to be an unassailable fortress created at the height of Hyrule's power, but when the Calamity happened and Hyrule Castle fell, the leaderless remaining Knights of Hyrule fell back to Akkala for a Final Stand against the Guardians. Despite all their efforts, the fortress fell and with it the last remains of the Kingdom of Hyrule. To hammer it home, the Citadel is the place in the game with the highest density of rusted weapons, with the clear implication of just how many knights were slaughtered there.
  • It's very faint, but the theme of each Divine Beast actually contains an SOS in Morse code. Not only is the thought of each Champion calling for help, being slain, and that call continuing to repeat for a century depressing on its own, but Vah Medoh's comes slightly later than the other three - implying that Revali either held out just a bit longer than the others or refused to send the signal until it was too late out of pride.
    • It's been pointed out that Revali's code, while appearing later, is more noticible and rapid than the other three. This indicates that the others called for help before it got urgent, just in case. Revali's signal, meanwhile, to quote the post: "it was frantic, panicked, a call only someone who knew they were about to die would make."
  • What was essentially the apocalypse happened on Zelda's 17th birthday, and Link couldn't have been much older at the time.
    • Likewise, before Zelda was even seventeen, she was tasked with awakening a power without any mentoring in order to save the world.
  • The Leviathan Fossil go from being odd landmarks to sad reminders once you realize just who they once were. The one in the Gerudo Desert is a baleen whale with little wing bones, a dead ringer for the Wind Fish. The one north of Death Mountain has the bone-plate and same exact facial structure of Levias. The one stuck in the ice in the Hebra Mountains just seems to be a humpback whale skeleton, which most likely means that it's the true form of Oshus, the Ocean King. These three powerful spirits who have helped heroes throughout Hyrule's history have been reduced to nothing but bone, and in the case of Levias, his body is reduced to once more being a hiding spot for monsters.
  • Mipha's diary in the Champions' Ballad DLC reveal that, as a child, Link used to be very talkative and had a bright, cheerful disposition. The next time she met him was as a teenager, after becoming one of the kingdom's knights. Far from the happy child he was, Link was now silent and stoic, never saying a word and rarely cracking a smile — a stark shift in personality that is also present in the cutscenes from the Captured Memories quest. It is clear that the pressure from his duties as a knight, compounded by the responsibilities thrust upon him as Hyrule's Champion and Zelda's personal knight, have hardened him...
  • In every stable, there's someone who tells Link about interesting landmarks. In the Snowfield Stable, an old man tells him about the maze to the northwest and the temple to the southwest. He'll also tell Link about his childhood friends, Harry and Mary, and how he accidentally got them both killed. He dared Harry to go to the maze, and went climbing with Mary on the slippery cliffs next to the temple. Once he tells Link the story, he adds that the guilt will haunt him until his dying day.


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