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Concerning Reincarnation

    Concerning Link's Name 

The different Links have different names.
While all the Zeldas are specifically given the same name, and Ganon is supposed to be the same one every time, there's no evidence that the same applies to Link. While the player character is always referred to as Link outside of the games, in game the heroes of the past events are always referred to by titles like "Hero of Time" rather than by their names, like Zelda and Ganon are. And given that they recognize his traditional duds, if the Links had a traditional name, they'd recognize that as well.
  • Jossed by every single manual to a Zelda game in existence. The boys' names are Link, it's the player who has the option to rename them. Also, note how also Ganon's name is almost never directly referred to in the legends of Hyrule. The historians of this kingdom just don't care about what the characters' actual names were, they just write the stuff down as awesome as possible.

All the Links are named differently.
That's why you can name all of them, their names are not the same. The Zeldas, though...

"Link" is a lost-in-myth name
Centuries after the incidences no one really knows what many of the Heroes names were so they go by "Link" in general.

None of the protagonists were actually named "Link"
Link is actually a Hyrulean word that translates roughly to "Legendary Hero". As bards retold the Legends, they simply referred to the protagonist as "The Legendary Hero" in narration.

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    Concerning Link's Handedness 

Link is ambidextrous.
In the animated series he's right handed, and due to graphical limitations of the first two games you can't tell if he's left handed.
  • This may actually be true in Skyward Sword. He wields his sword with his right hand, but when using the bow he draws the string with his left, which is incredibly awkward for a purely right-handed person to do.

Any instance of Link being right handed is due to an Unreliable Narrator
Self explanatory

Link was originally right-handed, then became ambidextrous by necessity
The original Link, from Skyward Sword, was naturally right-handed. At some point between Skyward Sword and The Minish Cap, one of his incarnations somehow lost the use of his right arm and became left-handed by necessity, and every Link since then has either been left-handed or ambidextrous.
  • Considering that the first incarnation of the Hero's Spirit in the Skyward Sword manga was depicted as being left-handed, this seems unlikely.

    Concerning Link's Silence 

The real reason Link can't talk...
Is because he's been subjected to all the Nightmare Fuel in existence. This includes only the best horror films in existence, terrifying animated films such as Watership Down and The Adventures of Mark Twain, every PSA in existence that involves death in some way, and Hyrulean nightmare fuel (which as we know is far worse.) People in every incarnation of his life know about his destiny as a hero and subject him to the year of nightmares to take away any and all fears he may have of being a hero. These people probably include Link's Uncle in Minish Cap, The Great Deku Tree in Ocarina of Time, either Mayor Bo or Rusl in Twilight Princess, Link's Grandma in Wind Waker, and probably Niko in Spirit Tracks. Unfortunately, one side effect of this is that the terror is so great that Link loses any and all ability to speak henceforth. His waking up or otherwise being exposed to less frightening things (such as Niko's woodcut show or Rusl's talk about Twilight) is him recovering from his ordeal. This is also why Link is the Hero of Courage; he's been exposed to so much nightmare fuel that nothing scares him anymore. Maybe it surprises him or shocks him, but he can no longer be afraid.
  • Nice theory, but isn't the theory of courage that you have to overcome your own fear in the commission of a courageous act? Courage and fearlessness are mutually exclusive. If you're fearless, you can't be courageous. His Triforce isn't the Triforce of courage; in your theory, it's the Triforce of numbness.
  • As of Skyward Sword, he talks.
  • Link has dialogue trees in all of his 3D adventures.

Link is LITERALLY a Heroic Mime
TWW Link excepted (note that he's ostensibly not descended from OoT Link.) I don't ascribe to this myself, but I've run into it quite a bit on the 'net.
  • Nope, he speaks in Adventure of Link.
    • Possibly backed up in Twilight Princess, if the Hero's Shade is really OoT Link.
    • He is. Word of God confirmed it.

Link is not mute at all.
His text-boxes are absorbed by an evil force to keep Link from giving the player information. Notice how most times, people seem to respond to things that Link has supposedly just "said". Like Zelda in Ocarina of Time, Tetra in Wind Waker, Romani in Majora's Mask, Marin in Link's Awakening, etc.
  • Possibly supported in The Adventure Of Link (possible mistranslation?) and Twilight Princess (Hero's Shade might not be OoT Link).
  • Multiple-choice-boxes are immune. Link says "I hate Ganondorf!" the first time he meets Nabooru in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and declares himself to be "an ally of justice" while reasoning with a thief in WW. Still, he does tend to give a simple "yes" or "no" most of the time.

Link can talk.
You just never hear it. Lots of text in-game makes no sense unless Link was responding to something someone said, or had said something.
  • Suggested (possibly) by AoL (Was it translated right?) and TP with the Hero's Shade (Word of God confirmed to be Link from OoT), as the examples in (these) suggest he can talk. Furthermore, the cartoon (*shudder*) and the CD-I games have him talking.
  • This has been suggested by a different troper before. *Too lazy to look up the WMG* Only that he/she suggested that the dark forces absorb Link's dialouge boxes, in order to prevent him from giving the player information.
  • This is definitely canon as of Skyward Sword at least. Whenever characters ask him to explain something, he can be seen talking and gesturing, we just don't see the words.
  • Several games in the series, including Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and of course Skyward Sword all have dialog options on occasion. Twilight Princess also includes a cutscene of Link talking with Ilia as they walk together. Besides, it's doubtful that everyone in Hyrule is fluent in some complex non-verbal language that Link uses in place of speech. I'd say it's just that his speech is implied.

Most Links, while they can speak, greatly prefer telepathy.
(Yes, it's another this-is-why-we-don't-"hear"-most-Links guess.) But he's either only capable of low-level telepathy, or most entities are not sensitive enough to hear him clearly... so they have to repeat everything he says. (Obviously, the real reason is for our benefit, while allowing him not to speak for... some reason... but in-game... maybe?)

Link has the same problem as Raj from The Big Bang Theory.
To clarify, Link can talk, but he's so shy that he loses his voice in the presence of an attractive female. And since his Fairy Companion in every game is almost always female, well...
  • This makes Midna's first words upon regaining her true form utterly hilarious:
    "Am I so beautiful that you've no words left?"

Link is NOT a Heroic Mime, but his words are never heard to avert Parrot Exposition
As far back as OoT, people in the world have been known to respond to Link as though he had been talking to them. In fact, Link does talk, but nothing he says is anything we don't already know, so the developers don't include his words in order to avert Parrot Exposition.
  • I'm playing Skyward Sword right now, and in a cutscene where Link is talking to Zelda's father, he moves his hands the way some people use gestures to help explain things. And then when the camera angle shifts, it's blatantly obvious that Link's lips are moving. I'd say this is pretty confirmed.
    • Pretty much, considering the same thing happens when he explains his adventure to Groose.
  • Breath of the Wild also pretty much confirms this. In one of the memory cutscenes, Zelda repeats some advice that Link gave her about taking care of her horse, and from the subtitles, it seems to be a direct quote. So Link does talk, just not when we're listening.

    Concerning Alternate Links 
Colin is The Wind Waker Link in the Alternate Timeline
They both look alike and have heroic tendencies despite not being directly related to the Hero of Time. By the end of TP, Colin even has a sibling who could easily be Aryll. The reason he isn't leading adventures on his own is because he doesn't have to: we have TP Link for that. Colin was meant to be a backup in case no blood relatives of the Hero still lived, which definitely happens in Wind Waker but maybe not in Twilight Princess.
  • Supporting that theory, take a look at Hanch. He's an adult with longish brown hair, a funny mustache, and nonstandard eyes. He also acts heroic until faced with potential danger, at which point he runs off. If you run across an image of him, the resemblance to Linebeck (fashion sense notwithstanding) is stunning. Beth also has similarities to Tetra — she mocks Colin at the beginning of the game along with all the other kids, but really warms up to him later on after he saves her.

The Hero's Spirit that Link (II) encounters throughout Twilight Princess is really Link (I) of Ocarina of Time (The Hero of Time)
After teaching Link (II) the his final technique, the spirit tells him that he was unable to pass on into the afterlife until he handed down his techniques. After Majora's Mask, Link(I)'s fate was never really explained, leaving the possibility that he never returned from Termina. The Hero's Spirit also mentions that he had accepted the call as the Hero. And did we mention that he's left handed (in the unflipped game), a physical trait that seems to be applied only to Link in the Zelda-verse?
  • Sorry, but Link does return to Hyrule after Majora's Mask. First of all, the Gorons of Twilight Princess had to have been given the Hero's Bow by Link, which he earned in Termina. He is also widely known as a hero throughout Hyrule by the time of Twilight Princess and the Hero's Clothes and the Zora Armor, both of which were explicitly stated in-game to have been made for Link, are in adult size. He is also seen in the Lost Woods at the end of Majora's Masks credits, or at least whatever woods he was in during Majoras Mask's opening. So somehow he managed to get back from whatever hole he fell into when he got to Termina. That, and the Hero's Shade is an adult.
    • To add to this, consider the MM prologue: "In the land of Hyrule, there echoes a legend. A legend held dearly by the Royal Family that tells of a boy... A boy who, after battling evil and saving Hyrule, crept away from the land that had made him a legend... Done with the battles he once waged across time, he embarked on a journey. A secret and personal journey... A journey in search of a beloved and invaluable friend... A friend with whom he parted ways when he finally fulfilled his heroic destiny and took his place among legends..." The game is just a recounting of an old legend. Considering that the only other people to cross over between Hyrule and Termina shouldn't know about both the war and Navi, it stands to reason that Link himself must have returned to Hyrule to tell Zelda about his adventures.
Let's not forget that the Spirit himself says, among other things:
Hero's Spirit:"A sword wields no strength unless the hand that holds it has courage... you may be destined to become the hero of legend... but your current power would disgrace the proud green of the hero's tunic you wear... those are only for one who carries the blood of the hero... the one whose spirit is that of the sublime beast... seek the sound that calls to the spirit of the beast to awaken me again... forgotten ways that do not leave our bloodline... you are already endowed with the strength required of the hero... Do you wish to master this final hidden skill, which can be earned only by the one true hero?... go and do not falter, my child!"
Basically stating that he and Link are of the same bloodline, that they both possess the spirit of the sacred beast, that they are both "The Hero", and that Link's green tunic is that of "The Hero".
  • Further supported by the spirit referring to Link as "my son" after you learn the final technique from him. I do not think that Link is actually his son, but possibly a great grandchild (insert as many greats as needed).
  • He also refers to some techniques as being techniques of "our line." Interestingly, several of the moves taught to Link II are the same moves that Link (TWW) has from the beginning of the game. Is he more in tune with his past lives at this point? Why does he not have to relearn the abilities?
  • So does that mean that Link really isn't a Silent Protagonist?
    • No, he's still a silent protagonist. He only learns how to talk once he's the Older and Wiser mentor figure to his reincarnation/son/descendant/sweepstakes winner.
  • So, OoT Link's a viking now?
  • How the hell did everyone miss this?
    Hero's Spirit: "Although I accepted life as the hero, I could not convey the lessons of that life to those that came after. At last, I have eased my regrets."
  • Also, there's this (check out number 4). Adds a bit of a Tear Jerker element to it.
  • Confirmed by Hyrule Historia.

Link's Uncle from A Link to the Past was another Link
Though clearly not in the best of shape, a lot of peripheral material claims that Link's Uncle was once a warrior and defender of the realm, which feeds off Link having descended from a line of nearly-extinct knights (meaning Uncle did too.) This could help explain why he got Zelda's call for help as well, and completely put to bed any questioning why he owns a sword and shield. In fact, if he hadn't gotten killed first thing in the game, we might have even seen him with the Master Sword. However, regardless of whether or not Link's Uncle was another Link, It's the player character Link's destiny, not his Uncle's, to save Hyrule.

Either TWW!Link does have a partly reincarnated memory or Orca is related to the Hero of Time
In Twilight Princess, the hero's spirit claimed that the techniques he thought TP!Link do not leave the Link's bloodline. TWW!Link, however. is actually seen using most of these techniques in battle (either as reaction commands or when... killing Ganondorf), even though no other Link ever showed them to him. All he knows about swordplay comes presumably from Orca, so either he learned them directly from him, or he suddenly remembered them from the other Link's incarnations. (Similar to how every Link can do a spinning slash right from the beginning, except MC!Link, who had to learn it from a sword master first (another fact that hints at the theory of Minish Cap being the chronologically first game)).

Orca, the sword master from The Wind Waker, is Link.
It's been stated (possibly Word of God'd) that Link in WW isn't an incarnation of Link. He's just a punk kid who took up arms to save his sister. It's also been suggested that Link gets a few lives of downtime before the next adventure, or that he is born whenever Ganon rises. It's possible that Orca was Link in a down-life, or that he was born when Ganon first awoke, but Ganon got smart, and waited for him to age into a feeble old man before doing anything evil, not counting on someone taking the role of Link.
  • I don't know why people keep thinking that Toon Link (I'll go with the Brawl name) is not a "real", reincarnated Link. Because he is lacking the Triforce of courage? That's just because Zelda made it split up by sending Ocarina Link back into his youth! (No barrier and no temple to stay in = Triforce split) Also, the King of Red Lion's comments are always in the vain of "I believe—" or "You might not—". Might, believe... he was clearly completely unsure about what to think! On the other hand, we have Ganondorf, aka: "The one who was owned BIIIIIIG time by Link and wouldn't ever forget about the guy who threw his life into misery", clearly stating several times that he waited for the hero to have his revenge. Why would he like to have revenge on a random kid who just happens to wear Link's clothes?! DOES NOT COMPUTE! Also, he even USES the word "reincarnation", unlike everyone else in the game, who talked like they assumed that the Hero of Time would just "pop up" again one day, without much explanation. They were not waiting for a reincarnation, they didn't know that he has been erased from the timeline and thought he'd come back from his trip to "What do I know where"-land one day. Toon Link hit them as a surprise, so they were naturally confused. Granted, he can't read or speak ancient Hylian, but he was reincarnated from a guy who was ERASED from the face of the earth. You don't think that would leave some kind of damage? Like not retaining all the defining characteristics on the first go-through? Also, when he reassembled the Triforce, it immediately went into his body and the KORL stated: "You are the true hero!" Note: Not "a" true hero, but "the" true hero. The one and only! And if that's not enough: He's an almost instant master of all the sword techniques that are usually passed on to Link by his previous lives. And Orca as Link... No. Especially because Orca got plenty of expies in Minish Cap. None of them are related to Link. That's pretty much semi-jossing this theory. OK, I am done.
    • There are a few flaws in this argument. First of all, Ganon's motivation in Wind Waker was to bring Hyrule back, not to take revenge on the hero — I went through the game script and the only time he mentions waiting for Link was before the battle with Puppet Ganon, when he said (and this is a direct quotation) "I have been waiting for you, boy. For one like you... Yes... For the hero." Revenge is never mentioned, and Ganon goes out of his way to say that he won't kill Link in the scene before assembling the Triforce. It's implied that that was the only reason he needed Link and Zelda, since Zelda already possessed the Triforce of Wisdom and that the Triforce of Courage was scattered throughout the Great Sea. He could have collected all of the fragments, but the Triforce wouldn't have reformed, since it only did so after being presented to the Goddesses/Gods at the Tower of the Gods. (And the only reason it did that was because the Gods/Goddesses recognized Link to be a true hero, worthy of holding it — something that definitely wouldn't have worked for Ganon.) It's another Nice Job Breaking It, Hero to add to Link's wonderful list, but Ganon was just using him the entire time — first by retrieving the Master Sword, and then by assembling and bringing the Triforce of Courage to him. It's also been mentioned in several of the above WMGs that Ganon's "Yes, surely you are the Hero of Time, reborn..." line is a way of complimenting somebody on their skills in Japanese; it's likely that the translation team just didn't see the point in taking it out/finding the western equivalent. It makes sense that Ganon would say this, since — early on — he tells Link that he's weak; recognizing that he's gotten better is quite the compliment, and (until the wish on the Triforce goes bad) Ganon never actually wishes harm on the kids. He's actually quite civil. I'm not entirely sure what your "erased from existence" argument means, since OoT Link wasn't erased — he just went to another land and didn't come back (hence the "he was separated from the elements that made him a hero" comment from the Great Fairy Queen). And finally, the King of Red Lions did say "The true hero" but, immediately afterwards, dubbed Link the "Hero of Winds", not the "Hero of Time"; it's entirely possible that he was referring to the true hero in their situation. There can be plenty of heroes — even true heroes — at any given time, but there was only one hero who could tackle the problem at hand, easily explaining the "the" in the line; so, by and by, there isn't evidence that says it's either way, but people like to believe that WW Link is separate from OoT Link, and it's ambiguous enough that it still makes perfect sense... and I know I said that the King of Red Lions thing was the last — but are you referring to the Blade Brothers as Orca's expies? How does that disprove anything? Just because one version of a character isn't related to another character, it doesn't mean that they're not related in another time/world/etc. Just look at Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask — Malon has a father in Talon, but that doesn't mean that her Expy, Romani, is related to Talon's, the Clock Town Barkeeper. Likewise, Romani has a sister, Cremia, who never appears as a separate character from Malon. That doesn't mean that Malon, Romani, and Cremia are all the same person/their own sisters, as your logic would have us believe.
    • Just to clarify, what the poster before the previous poster meant by the "OoT Link was erased from existence" statement was that director Eiji Aonuma has confirmed that OoT split the timeline in two, meaning that Zelda had to erase OoT Link from the "Adult" timeline in order to send him back to the "Child" timeline. He also confirmed that it's the "Adult" Timeline that leads into Wind Waker. Basically, the part of the WW prologue that states OoT Link simply went to another land was actually either a corruption of the original legend, a metaphorical way of stating that he was sent back to his own time, or simply the result of Zelda and the sages choosing not to tell the whole story.

    Concerning Other Link Theories 

Link's hat is a Bag of Holding.
It's how he holds all of that stuff without being encumbered. In his Soulcalibur and Super Smash Bros. appearances he is shown to be pulling his bombs, bow and arrow, and boomerang from that general area.
  • This Troper figured Midna held onto Link's arsenal in Twilight Princess, as seen after Link obtains both the sword and shield; she snaps her fingers and they break down into twilight particles to be saved until later.

Link gains abilities akin to those of Freelancer Wyoming from Red Vs. Blue after OoT
This explains why there are so many versions of the same story. Link goes back over and over again to get the story right. Something always goes partly wrong that we don't realize and he feels that he has to go back and fix everything over and over again.

TP Link and WW Link are the same person in Alternate Timelines.
At different ages, but still. Though we don't know their exact dates, TP and WW are generally put in the same place on the timeline, and could have potentially happened around the same time. TP Link and WW Link both possess a strong Big Brother Instinct, even compared to other Links in the series. The only problem is that WW Link is stated to have no relation to the Hero of Time while TP Link is a descendant of the Ancient Hero, but then, the Ancient Hero is never explicitly stated to have been OoT Link (It could have been the Link from SS or one of the other games).
  • Possible, but difficult to determine.

The Hero's Shade, aka the Hero of Time, aka OoT/MM Link, is directly responsible for TP Ganondorf obtaining the Triforce of Power and surviving his execution
The one thing that has consistently bothered me about Twilight Princess is that there's no reason for Ganondorf, Link, or Zelda to have their respective Triforce pieces as, in the Child Timeline, the Master Sword was never drawn and the Sacred Realm was never breached. Nobody ever laid a hand on the Triforce, so it could never have split and found its way into the main trio's hands. Unless somebody did.

After Link returns from his mysterious sojourn in Termina, he tries to re-integrate himself into normal Hyrulean society in a time of peace and prosperity. Perhaps he succeeds at first, being a young, good-looking lad who benefits from a close friendship with the universally-adored Princess Zelda. However, as time goes by, he grows less and less satisfied with his lot in life. The problems and complexities of adult life begin to weigh upon him, and he yearns for the simpler life he knew as a child when everything was black and white: he was the good guy, and the monsters were the bad guys who needed to be killed. He misses the courage he had as a hero. So he sets about re-embarking on the quest that set him on that path in the first place. He re-acquires the Spiritual Stones, opens the Door of Time, and draws the Master Sword. He enters the Sacred Realm and ascends the Temple of Light to the summit, where the Triforce is held, and attempts to take possession of it and make his wish: to once again be the great hero he once was. However, as always happens when someone with an unbalanced heart touches the Triforce, it splits into its three components: Link retains only the Triforce of Courage; the Triforces of Wisdom and Power go to the two people in Hyrule who most embody those virtues: Zelda and Ganondorf.

Ganondorf, having been languishing in the Arbiter's Ground prison these long years, has finally been marked for execution. The sages drag him to the top of the prison and prepare to do the deed, but just before the stroke falls the Triforce of Power finds its way into Ganondorf's possession. The execution fails, Ganon is banished to the Twilight Realm, and the events of Twilight Princess ensue. Link, meanwhile, ashamed at what his greed has done, vows to walk the earth forever, until he can help a new, purer hero to rectify his mistake.

Link learned the ability that allowed him to become the Hero's Shade in Termina.
He became a ghost which remained in the living world until someone performed a song for him, allowing him to pass on his techniques. Very reminiscent of various uses of the Song of Healing. Maybe when he wore the masks given to him by the dead, he learned how to become a ghost himself.

The difference between Bunny!Link and Wolf!Link is damage from the timeline split
When the timeline broke, the soul of Hylia’s champion was broken between each timeline. His soul had cracks and holes in it, and to repair the holes in his soul, Hylia had to repair his soul with a compatible soul from some creature.

In the Downfall timeline, a small piece of the Hero’s soul made it over. This piece remembered that he lost. For all his courage, he died a failure. His soul became weak and timid. The strongest, yet still compatible soul was a bunny. This made Bunny!Link.

In the Adult timeline, Link won. This piece of his soul remembers winning, but not being sent back and losing Navi. The gods claimed this timeline’s piece of his soul when Zelda sent him back. His soul was mostly intact, but needed patching. His self-confidence and love of adventure from before his journey (see the carvings at the base of his treehouse) meant that a cat’s soul was used to patch the damage. This resulted in the curiosity and narcolepsy that the incarnations of the hero in that timeline display. He also makes for a good rat catcher for Zelda in Spirit Tracks.

In the Child timeline, he remembered winning, losing Navi, and living afterward. He set out to track Navi down. On the way he faced many powerful monsters and never gave up. His tenacity grew, as did his skill. When he reached Termina, he donned the Fierce Deity Mask, which left a mark. When the hero finally died, his damaged soul had grown, matured, and been filled with restless energy, drive to protect, Tremendous Ferocity, and a relentless need to fulfill his mission, but without the ability to recognize when it is time to hang up his sword and shield. The only compatible soul was a wolf.

Link in Ocarina of Time is A Kokiri-tarian.
They grow their own houses, and use bamboo-looking stuff for their fences, so what would he need the axe for? The same for the hay and pitchfork, since he only gets the cow partway through the game, with no warning. And why would he need the meat cleaver? He uses the axe and pitchfork to kill, dismember, and/or transport the bodies, and uses the butcher knife to... well, butcher them with a knife. The hay was originally used to keep the blood from caking on the floor, like sawdust in an old bar. Saria was obviously the Mrs. Lovett to his Sweeney Todd.

The four main Zelda console games (and to a greater extent their Links) represent the four temperaments
So far there are four main console Zelda games with distinct Links: Ocarina of Time (Majora's Mask as well, since they are the same Link), Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. Giving it some thought, one can see how the art styles, music, themes and characters from each game represents, almost to the letter the four personality types. In order of appearance:Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask: Choleric. This game was made to dominate the world of Zelda, and it shows. There's much to be done in these games, which leaves a go-getting Link content from beginning to end. One goes through this game with passion and takes it seriously, as it's intended to be.

Wind Waker: Phlegmatic. This game is far more relaxed than OoT, but never boring. The curious and observant can always find something new in this game, but every turn in the game makes sense and is logical. The Link of this universe, while just as brave as other Links, needs no reward beyond knowing he has done well and knowing he can go even farther. One of the main themes of this game is letting go of the past, which is a cornerstone of the Phlegmatic's mindset.

Twilight Princess: Melancholic. You'll notice while playing this game that it's much more serious than even OoT, to the point that it can almost be considered brooding. All the artistic elements of it are some of the finest according to fans: from the music to the graphics to the plot and even the charecter design. This is a game that stands on its own and probably won't have a sequel. However, it doesn't need to, since the game gives one so much insight into Light and Darkness that it's enough for two or three games.

Which leaves for us:

Skyward Sword: Sanguine. While we haven't seen much on the game yet, what we do have suggests a lighter game than OoT or TP, however not at all boring! The characters in this game will probably be very engaging and the sidequests short yet interesting, but the game is as par noted going to come in a little late.

Link in Ocarina of Time is a lot older than he looks
There are a couple of things which led me to this conclusion.
  • The war Link's mother was trying to escape was supposed to be one that ended in the King of Hyrule uniting the kingdom. If this had happened recently, then where is the evidence of it? The only other race in the game that seems to show any antagonism is the Gerudo, and even with them it's not what one would expect from a people conquered only 10 years ago. Yet all of the other kings, including Ganondorf on the surface at least, swear allegiance to the King of Hyrule, suggesting they are vassal states. Even if the war had only been with the Gerudo and the other races had been on friendly terms with Hyrule, there's the problem of Ganondorf's relationship to Hyrule. Even if he had only been a teenager at the time, he still would have likely been the Gerudo head of state. Yet at no point does he mention any anger over a lost war, and from what Zelda said it seems that her father showed no signs of doubting his loyalty. If Ganondorf had been defeated just 10 years earlier, that kind of attitude would be beyond stupidity.
  • The Kokiri never mention anything about having seen Link grow up. Considering their own eternal childhoods, watching somebody actually age would probably be bizarre to them, yet the only thing strange about Link that's ever mentioned is that he didn't have a fairy. This isn't a case of their having short memory spans either, as after Link's sever year time skip they still remembered him, even if they didn't recognize him. For Link to be old enough that nobody would remember his early childhood would probably take a long time, as it to would have to settle in their minds as the way things had always been.
  • So just how old was Link? Who knows? Given what life seemed to be like among the Kokiri, it probably doesn't matter. However the bigger concern is how come Link didn't age despite his not being Kokiri. My best guess here is that whatever it is that the Great Deku Tree was able to replicate in some fashion the kind of condition that its "children" lived in and grant Link that while he was around, but either after its death or when Link left the forest the spell was broken and he began to age normally again. While I can't believe that I'm making this analogy, it's like in Hook with Peter. While he lived in Neverland, he was eternally young, but once he moved back into the real world he became an ordinary person again and finally grew up.
  • One way around this is to say the Kokiri start out as infants, grow to the age of ten, and stop there; i.e. Link growing up would be rare and would mark him as really young, but as long as he didn't grow up past ten, the Kokiri wouldn't have noted the anomaly.

The splitting of the timeline screwed around with Link's Reincarnation-cycle in the adult-timeline.
Reincarnation usually works like this: You live, you accomplish something, you die, you are reborn, repeat. However, that doesn't quite works out that well, when you are not killed, but erased from the timeline (like Zelda erased Link, when she sent him back to his youth). Having Link erased out of the timeline, instead of biting the dust the regular way means, that there's no soul the goddesses could have reincarnated. Which is why they chose to flood Hyrule, instead of sending another hero... They were lacking Hero-soul at the time, thanks to a certain princesses "good intentions...". When they finally managed to reincarnate Link again, he was only part of the hero he used to be and the Triforce of courage didn't immediately recognize him and split up. Notice how one of the Triforce shard is at the coast of Outset Island. It probably somehow almost found its way to its owner... and missed by a few meters. It explains why Wind Waker Link is (in-game) considered by some to be the reincarnation of OoT Link and by some others not. Also, why he kept OoT Link's exceptional sword-skills (as Orca mentioned) but not the ability to speak ancient Hyrulean: The reincarnation was still screwed up and incomplete, resulting in an incomplete Link. The Triforce of Courage latter fixed the "damage", which is why Ganondorf is able to absolutely recognize him as good old' Link.

Wind Waker's Link is a squid monster.
In fact, his entire family line is composed of squid monsters, capable of shape-shifting into human form. At some point in the past, possibly after Link and his sister were born, their Grandma became fed up with the squid monster lifestyle, and stole away her two grandchildren to Outset Island, where she raised them to believe that they were normal humans like everyone else. Link, being the hey-let's-run-off-a-cliff dunce that he is, never realized his true powers as a squid monster. Aryll, because she's much more intelligent, started to get an idea, and that's why seagulls flocked around her in the same way that they do around other squid monsters. As for Grandma, she stays inside for the vast majority of the game because she doesn't want the seagulls flocking around her and making her remember the life she left behind.

And yes, this means that it's entirely possible Link was unknowingly killing his mother and father out there on the Great Ocean during the game.

ST Link is the grandson of Nico and Aryll.
This explains both why he lives with Nico and why he looks like WW Link in one fell swoop.

TWW Link had his name deleted out of all history books after Tetra became queen
He didn't want his successor (whom he knew would pop up some day) to grow up with the pressure of having to live up to his "Hero of Winds" standards, just like he himself had to live up to the "Hero of Time"'s standards. So he told Tetra not to build any statues of him, not to paint any portraits and, most importantly, not to tell anybody of his achievements, so he would not pass on into the legends. Tetra, however, couldn't just completely erase every memory of his heroics out of their new kingdom, so she made his garb the uniform of the royal guardians. She also somehow got a sudden ego boost, causing her to embed a massive stained-glass window of herself in the castle and give her new BFF a makeover to make her resemble herself, but that's a different story...

Link (The Wind Waker) died in the battle against Malladus. Link (Spirit Tracks) is a grandchild of his sister Aryll.
The only possible explanation why The Hero of Winds isn't known all around Hyrule and why Link (ST) doesn't seem to have any connection to the royal family, even though the last Link was close friends/in love with Queen Tetra.

Niko is ST Link's Grandfather, which is why they are living in the same house.
Otherwise, it would be very, VERY creepy. This is closely related to the "Link (The Wind Waker) died in the battle against Malladus. Link (Spirit Tracks) is a grandchild of his sister Aryll."-guess. I guess sometime after PH, after the pirates came to pick all the remaining Hylians up and move them to new Hyrule, Niko probably fell in love with Aryll and they married. (No, he was not that much older. Niko is actually often described as being only a few years older than TWW Link. And the woman being 7 years or so younger than the man is really not all that uncommon.) "Then why didn't Niko call TWW Link "Your granduncle", when he mentioned him to ST Link?", you may ask now. I now point upwards, towards the "TWW Link had his name deleted out of all history books after Tetra became queen"-guess. If this really was the case, it also explains why Niko didn't want to tell ST Link too much about that person. He was already breaking the rules of their promise to TWW Link by even mentioning him to ST Link at all.

TWW!Link wasn't OoT Link's reincarnation…
...to begin with, but became it over the course of the game.

Let's back up a bit. General consensus seems to be that Zelda removed Link from the (Adult) Timeline completely at the end of OoT. In the Japanese dialogue of WW, Daphnes (Nohansen Hyrule, aka the King of Red Lions) hints that this may have been when Link separated from the Triforce of Courage (as opposed to the NA version which is more vague).

During the course of Wind Waker, a number of the troubles he has, and trials he must overcome, result from him not being the newest incarnation of the Spirit of the Hero, and having to prove his merit (such as the Tower of the Gods). When he finally overcomes the trials, he is acknowledged as the new hero, but this does not make him the reincarnation of the older Links.

However, later games (specifically, Spirit Tracks) show that the reincarnation cycle has restarted, and both of these Links resemble earlier ones, despite being completely unrelated to them.

So, what if, when OoT Link was separated from the Triforce of Courage as the Gate of Time was closed, a portion of himself, the Spirit of the Hero, was left imprinted upon it? Bound to the now shattered fragments, the Spirit could not be reincarnated.

Fast Forward to near the end of Wind Waker. The new Link, acknowledged as a hero by the Gods, brings the shards of the Triforce of Courage together, and when he does that, gains the Spirit of the Hero, previously bound to the Triforce piece, and thus becoming the new incarnation of the Hero (possibly even retroactively). Now, he is not a hero acknowledged by the Gods, but the Hero.

Not only does this explain why new Links can be incarnated later on in the Adult Timeline, but it also means that both Daphnes comment to Jabun ("He has no relation to (the Hero of Time)") and Ganondorf's comment to Link ("Surely, you are the Hero of Time, reborn!") are truthful.

Link can only be a brunette in the Downfall timeline
I have no clue why that would happen but I'll jump a limb and say it's because the Hero of Time failed that all other incarnations will be dark blonds and brunettes compared to the lighter-haired versions the other timelines have.

All of the Links have abnormally short life spans.
This WMG relies on two other guesses that Link's soul is being reincarnated for each different installment, and the split timeline theory. Unless there's more than one soul for Link floating around in the timelines, only one Link can exist at all at a specific point in ANY of the timelines. This being said, it doesn't seem that Link can hop between the two timelines in any incarnation that we've played. His soul might be able to travel between the two timelines, though. That being said, if Link is around in timeline A, and timeline B needs him soon to go stop whatever evil force is threatening Hyrule, the current incarnation of Link has to die in order to be reincarnated into the other timeline. Thus, none of the Links ever gets to be older than 20... if he's lucky.

Link can see dead people.
Think about it: How else can he see Poes (most games), Rutela's ghost (TP), The Wind and Earth sages (TWW), Sharp and Flat (OoT and MM), the Poe Sisters (OoT), Jalhalla (TWW), Kamaro (MM), Princess Zelda (ST), and various others?

The "Ancient Hero" referred to in Twilight Princess is actually Skyward Sword Link, not Ocarina of Time Link.
Due to the actions Link and Zelda took at the end of OoT, Ganondorf was imprisoned by the sages before he could take over Hyrule, and as a result, the Hero of Time never existed in the child timeline. SS Link, on the other hand, would have existed in both timelines since his adventure took place before it was split. TP Link's tunic supposedly belonged to the Ancient Hero, but it looks a lot more like the one SS Link wears than OoT's. Plus, the Hero's Bow owned by the Gorons supposedly belonged to the Ancient Hero, but OoT Link never used a bow in the child timeline. Since the Ancient Hero was never stated to have been involved with sealing Ganon, SS Link actually fits better.
  • Not to mention that SS Link definitely can and does speak, unlike in OoT where it is left ambiguous.
  • The Hero of Time still exists in the Child timeline. Link used his knowledge of the future to help Zelda have Ganondorf arrested and put on trial for trying to usurp the King of Hyrule. The sages of that time period were never killed, so the new sages that Rauru tasked Link with helping to awaken never needed to be. But Link is still the Hero of Time in Majora's Mask due to Ripple Effect-Proof Memory and the Hero's Shade is revealed to be OoT/MM Link in Hyrule Historia. It's still possible the Ancient Hero referred to by the Light Spirits is a different Link, though.

The Spirit of the Hero is a quality, not a literal living spirit.
Unmarked spoilers due to the nature of this theory.

Hyrule Historia mentions that not all Links are actually related, and even that they're not necessarily reincarnations of the same person. It does still confirm that they all contain the Spirit of the Hero, however. Some fans have taken this to mean that it's more along the lines of Buddhist reincarnation, where the spirit doesn't and can't remember past lives but instead only regains them during their short time in the afterlife.

However, there is some evidence that the Spirit of the Hero isn't an inherent, unique thing only The Chosen One can have, and in some cases there were even The Chosen Many. In Twilight Princess, it was a very popular fan theory that the Hero's Shade (the Stalfos-like spirit that teaches Link sword techniques) was actually the spirit of the Hero of Time, which Hyrule Historia revealed to be true. In Spirit Tracks, Nico mentions that Link and Tetra left for an adventure about a year ago, 100 years after the events of The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass. "Gramps" in A Link Between Worlds is an old man who wears green, likes apples, is remarkable strong and agile despite his age, and notably can weild the Master Sword, with heavy implications that he's the Link from A Link to the Past. Tri Force Heroes explicitly revolves around three chosen heroes who will work together to save the kingdom of Hytopia.

Putting all of this together, it seems that the implication is not that all Links are reincarnations of the same spirit, but rather that it is a quality needed for them to be able to recognized by the Master Sword as a worthy weilder and an indicator of Hylia's favor. It also helps that, despite the many Links often being considered the same character in detail if not actually being the same, their personalities actually vary quite a bit beyond unwavering heroic resolve and courage.

Wind Waker/Phantom Hourglass Link became the first king of New Hyrule.
Well, Spirit Tracks never ruled any possibilities out. I guess Link chose not to be known throughout history as a hero or king. Sneaky move, Nintendo.
  • Spirit Tracks Link is another reincarnation.
    • So... basically saying that this IS possible...
      • No. Wind Waker itself disproves reincarnation.
      • How so? The King of Red Lions tells Jabun that Link isn't related to the Hero of Time in any way, but Ganondorf claims that he is the Hero of Time reborn; you'd think the guy we've been fighting against for half the series would know a thing or two about reincarnation. Am I forgetting something?
      • 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 reincarnation either since it could be a memory from OoT!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.
      • Wind Waker doesn't really prove reincarnation, just the fact that OoT Link's soul isn't in this timeline so WW Link isn't a hero by default, needing to prove himself first. It's very possible that once WW Link dies, the reincarnation process will still continue, just with his soul instead of the original spirit of the hero.

We will see a female Link eventually
Ganon will have a Nice Job Breaking It, Herod! or such.
  • Possibly this has already happened, and she was raised by the descendants of the Rito. Her name? Samus Aran.
  • This might not even be all that drastic a step, design-wise — realistically speaking, boy!Link and girl!Link would end up looking very similar to one another.

Future games will be more liberal in tweaking Link's appearance.
Overall, Link has been depicted with a very consistently uniform appearance — he's always a Hylian youth with pale skin, blonde or light brown hair, and a fairly slim build. Even his wardrobe, before Breath of the Wild, has always been the same. This is contrast with other recurring characters in the series, who tend to be more mutable in appearance — even Zelda tends to vary noticeably in at least dress and hair color between games, and different incarnations of Zelda are much easier to tell apart at a glance than different incarnations of Link (the primary exception here is Ganondorf, whose appearance is also very constant — but unlike Link or anyone else, Ganondorf is always the same, undying and unreincarnated individual, so for him this does make sense). Breath of the Wild has already gone part of the way and altered the standard outfit Link wears, and it's possible that future games might go further in this direction and introduce more physical changes to Link's usual design.

The next "hero" Link on the TWW side of the split will be of mixed Rito heritage.
In the end of The Wind Waker, Link, Tetra, Makar, Medli, and the pirates all embark on an expedition, presumably to search for a place to found the new Hyrule, as confirmed in Spirit Tracks. It's implied that one passes on carrying of the Triforce to his or her offspring, most likely first born. If this were true, then chances are Link and Tetra would decide not to begin a lineage together after reaching land. The only other female on the expedition was Medli, a Rito who has been a possible shipping candidate for Link as well. Assuming natives don't interfere, and that a Rito could crossbreed with a Hylian, it could be very possible for the lineage to have mixed Rito heritage. Spirit Tracks takes place roughly one or two centuries after Wind Waker, leaving time for the lineage to continue. If a hero occurs between ST and WW, or he contains enough Rito in his blood (assuming his ancestors that took more Rito-like traits tended to seek out others with Rito traits) to give him a distinct flavoring of Rito, perhaps enough to enable limited flight.
  • This would mean that ST Link was part Rito as well and he doesn't look very Rito to me... although he does seem to be slightly different from TWW Link (The look in his eyes is a lot more enthusiastic and yet calm in the artworks. He does appear to be a slightly more balanced personality than the permanently nervous TWW Link.) ... wait a minute... where did ST Link pop up from anyway? You're right, Zelda is Tetra's great-granddaughter, so WHO THE HECK produced this clone and why isn't he being trained into becoming a royal knight, like his ancestor, if he's really descended from the Hero of Winds?! What in the name of the golden goddesses is he doing in the train-engineer-branch? Why doesn't Niko seem to mind the swabby-clone in his village? What the?
    • It's possible that not all Links are part of a lineage, just the "hero" Links are. Supposedly, the green clothes in ST are a uniform based on the clothes that the Hero of Winds wore, which is in turn based on the Hero of Time. So it's very possible for the ST Link to be just an unrelated brave guy. It's also possible for that Link to be from a very human-like part of the lineage, where the Rito blood is very diluted.
      • You're forgetting that without a scale from Valoo (which clearly is not passed on like an heirloom, and instead requires each individual Rito to ascend the mountain), having Rito blood means little more than red eyes and a beak, as well as assumedly dark skin if you're male, or pale white if you're female.
  • Jossed. The next individual Link in that timeline, the one from Spirit Tracks, is a regular Hylian as always.

Link IS the Fierce Deity... sorta.
Primarily suggested by the sword skills, the body build, and the voice when you get a chance to control him in Majora's Mask. How did it come about? Perhaps the Goddesses are not the only inhabitants of the sacred realm, and that one of these, a titan-like entity who would later be remembered only as the Fierce Deity, was a particularly obscenely skilled warrior who cared only for shedding blood and killing foes. The Goddesses managed to subdue him and subjugate him (creating the mask), but were unable to completely destroy him—some raging violent aspect was left afterward. Trying to figure out what to do with him, Farore, suddenly struck by inspiration, infused that violent spirit with a soul of her own creation, thus creating an obscenely skilled warrior who now embodies her aspects of vitality and courage. Sound familiar?
  • As of Skyward Sword, it has been revealed that Zelda is the goddess Hylia reborn as a mortal. The game also strongly implies that Ganondorf embodies the undying hate of the demon king Demise. Knowing this, it wouldn't come as a surprise if Link was himself an avatar to some divine being, and the Fierce Deity does appear as a likely candidate. One could imagine the goddesses are trying to correct the Blood Knight-ish and Knight Templar-ish aspects of an otherwise invaluable ally.

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