An ongoing webcomic based on The Legend of Zelda created by jojo56830 that takes the various incarnations of its protagonist, Link, and asks a simple question: What would it be like if each Link wound up meeting? Unbeknownst to each of the Links, their Evil Counterpart Dark Link has caused havoc throughout the world, and has led to the heroes' meeting. The Links go on an adventure, during which they learn more about their alternate selves.
Each of the Links has their own unique traits that separates them from the other (for instance, the Hero of Time, otherwise called Time, is a no-nonsense mentor to the other Links and is easily the most cynical after all he's been through). Their designs, while also taking cues from canon, have been made to easily distinguish between each of them (only one of the nine Links wears the iconic hat, for example, and it's not even the typical green).
Each of the Links has been taken from a point after their adventures came to a close, meaning all of them have developed a wealth of experience. The series is divided into several standalone comics alongside longer story arcs.
The Links include:
Sky: The first hero chosen by the Goddesses and the Link of Skyward Sword.
Time: The Leader of the Links (also the oldest) and the Link of Ocarina of Time & Majora's Mask.
Legend: One of the most experienced Links (having gone on the most adventures in terms of games). He is a combination of two Links- the Link of A Link to the Past, Link's Awakening, & the Oracle games, and the Link from A Link Between Worlds & Triforce Heroes.
Hyrule: A street-smart teenager and the Link of the original Legend of Zelda & Adventure of Link.
Twilight: A farmhand with the ability to transform into a wolf, and the Link of Twilight Princess.
Four: A blacksmith with the ability to split into four copies using his sword. He is a combination of three Links- the Link from The Minish Cap, the Link from Four Swords, and the Link from Four Swords Adventures.
Wind: The youngest of the bunch. He is a combination of two Links- the Link from The Wind Waker & Phantom Hourglass, and the Link from Spirit Tracks.
Warriors: An expert strategist and the Link from Hyrule Warriors. Notably the only Link to be from a non-canon game.
Wild: An amnesiac survivalist and the Link from Breath of the Wild.
Tropes appearing in Linked Universe include:
- Adaptation Name Change: Downplayed and Justified. Each of the main cast is still named Link, but all are referred to by their hero titles (e.g. Hero of Time is referred to as Time) for simplicity's sake.
- A Day in the Limelight: One major arc focuses on Malon, the ranch girl from Ocarina of Time. Here, she's revealed to have married Time after the latter's adventures in both Hyrule and Termina.
- A Father to His Men: Time to the other Links. A more literal example emerges with him and Twilight, who is his direct descendant.
- Affectionate Nickname: Twilight in his wolf form is dubbed Wolfie by the Links, most of whom have no clue that the wolf is in fact one of them.
- Afraid of Their Own Strength: Time is terrified of what he's capable of when using the Fierce Deity's Mask, mostly due to the fact that the Fierce Deity easily destroyed Majora. Fearing that he could lose control if he uses the mask again, he chooses to keep it only in case he absolutely has to use it.
- Alternate Self: Guess.
- Alternate Timeline: Time's first adventure caused a three-way split in the timeline. Legend & Hyrule come from a branch where Time fell to Ganon (though Time never personally lived through this, as it was an alternate version of Time who fell). A second branch has Ganon never rise to power, meaning Time's adventure in Hyrule never happened there- Twilight and Fournote come from this branch, and it is the branch where Time is living out the rest of his life. The final branch includes the Hyrule Time saved before being sent to the Child Timeline, and it is where Wind comes from. Three Links remain uninvolved in the alternate timelines- Sky comes from a point before Time's adventures, Warriors's spot in the timeline is unconfirmed, and Wild comes from a point after the three timelines reconverge, meaning his adventure was unavoidable regardless of timeline.
- Alternate Universe Fic: An AU where each of the Links meet after their respective adventures.
- Amnesiac Hero: Wild, due to the side effects of the Shrine of Resurrection. He's regained some fragments of his memory, but he's still missing a lot.
- Ascended Fanboy: Wind gets to fight alongside none other than the Hero of Time, famed in Wind's hometown so much a tradition revolves around the man. Downplayed, though, since his reaction to Time has never really been shown.
- Assassination Attempt: Warriors meets a merchant who turns out to be a member of the Yiga Clan in disguise. Wild sees through it before the assassin can even reveal his true appearance, countering the Yiga's attempt to stab Warriors with his own blade.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The ring Time used to propose to Malon. It was the most extravagant ring he could find... and it was rather distracting, and as Malon puts it, a bit too much for her, leading the two to pick a simpler ring.
- Babies Ever After: Twilight's very existence makes it a Foregone Conclusion that Time's fate involves this. Time himself briefly acknowledges it after the other Links learn he's married; Four asks him if he has any children and Time says he doesn't- yet, emphasizing the yet while giving Twilight a pat on the back.
- Badass Adorable: Wind is still very much a child. That doesn't change the fact that he's very skilled in combat.
- Badass Grandpa: Downplayed with Time. He's older than every other Link, but only mid-aged. Most of the other Links refer to him as "old man" nonetheless. He's also arguably the most experienced Link (only Legend could be considered more experienced) and very skilled in combat.
- Bag of Holding: How else would the Links carry their items? Played for Laughs in one comic, where Wild dumps an implausible amount of apples out of a tiny bag when asked if he has something to eat.
- Being Good Sucks: Time seems to have this view after having his childhood ripped from him and the horrors he had to view in both Hyrule and Termina. He even views the Master Sword as a curse. However, it doesn't stop him from doing heroic deeds.
- Berserk Button: Talk shit about Zelda in front of Wild. Go ahead, we dare you.
- The mere mention of Ingo is this to Time.
- The Bet: After the Links learn that Time is married, Legend and Warriors make a bet on who it's to. Warriors thinks it's the Zelda from Time's Hyrule, while Legend thinks that Time wanted to live a quiet, simple life and married somebody who could give him that life. With Malon's introduction, Legend is proven right, and humorously, Legend's initial reaction upon first seeing her it to tell Warriors to pay up.
- Big Freaking Sword: Time's sword of choice, the Biggoron Sword.
- Big Bad: Dark Link is behind the Links' meeting. That said, the Links have yet to even learn of his involvement.
- Big Damn Kiss: Malon's first action upon reuniting with Time.
- Boss in Mook's Clothing: As the series goes on, the Links face enemies much stronger than they usually are. The earliest example is a Moblin that takes the entire team to bring down, with Time noting that it usually should have taken only one or two of the Links. It's suggested that this is a result of Dark Link.
- The Cameo: Several Zelda characters have smaller comics they appear in, including Linkle, Ravio, and Tingle.
- Canine Companion: Twilight in his wolf form becomes this. Due to most of the Links being unaware of his alternate form, it creates the impression that Wolfie (as he is called) periodically shows up to help the Links.
- Canon Character All Along: Time's wife is alluded to in an early comic, but no hints are dropped as to her identity. A later comic reveals her to be Malon, who is met early in Ocarina of Time, Time's first journey.
- Chekhov's Gun: Downplayed. Time's armor is an allusion to his future as the Hero's Shade, Twilight's mentor from beyond the grave. At first, it seems to just be a neat Mythology Gag. Well, Twilight connects the dots, and the armor serves as the final nail in the coffin in convincing him that Time and his ancestral mentor are one and the same.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Time and Malon have known each other since they were little, and have been married for what seems to be many years.
- Comic-Book Time: The Links don't seem to be aging while they travel with each other. An odd example of both the trope being Played Straight and Averted, since the Links have each visibly aged since their canonical adventures (the most obvious being Time, who is a married adult).
- Continuity Porn: The series is geared towards the reader having an understanding of both the games' stories and the Hyrule Historia, with many plot points (such as Time being Twilight's ancestor) making less sense if they have not read the latter.
- Cool Sword: Many of the Links' swords apply. One comic shows which swords each Link wields.
- Sky wields the Master Sword.
- Time wields the Biggoron Sword.
- Legend wields the Tempered Sword, an upgraded version of the Master Sword.
- Four wields the Four Sword.
- Wind wields the Phantom Sword.
- Covered with Scars: Unlike his game, where the scars are mentioned to exist but never actually seen, Wild's body is layered in scars and Guardian burns.
- Cutting Off the Branches: Time is shown to have several love interests throughout his first adventure, namely Saria, Malon, Zelda, Ruto, and Nabooru. Twilight is living proof he gets with somebody eventually, and that the somebody is likely from Hyrule, but the games never confirm who, or even if it's one of the love interests mentioned above. This series has Time settle down with Malon.
- In his game, Wild is given the option to return the affections of his era's incarnation of Zelda, Mipha, neither of them, or both of them. While he seems to be on good (if awkward) terms with his Zelda, it's suggested that it's Mipha whose feelings he seems to reciprocate.
- Cynical Mentor: Time, and oh boy does it show. After everything the Goddesses have put him through, he's at the point where he's Seen It All and is just about done.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters at one point or another.
- Dem Bones: Time is eventually destined to become the skeletal Hero's Shade. He is also shown to own a mask resembling the Shade's skull.
- Doomed by Canon: An odd example. Time is not doomed to die in this series (and in fact, he is the only Link with Plot Armor due to the fact that he has to father a child to continue the family line, as evidenced by Twilight- when and if he will in the series is unrevealed so far). But when he does eventually die, whether that be in Linked Universe or not, he has to die with enough regret and emotional baggage to tether him to the world of the living as the Hero's Shade.
- Doomed Predecessor: An alternate version of Time fell against Ganon, creating the timeline Legend & Hyrule come from. However, while they know a hero fell, the latter two have no clue their leader (or rather, their leader's counterpart from an alternate timeline) is said hero.
- Dramatic Irony: Any viewer who has read the Hyrule Historia knows that Time is Twilight's direct ancestor and mentor, the Hero's Shade. The characters themselves seem not to know. Eventually Averted with the finale of the Lon Lon Ranch arc, where it is revealed that sometime offscreen, both Time and Twilight figured out the former (though Time likely remains unaware of the latter), the two Links deciding to keep it a secret from the others.
- The Dreaded: Ganon is this to every Link but Sky, and that's only because Sky never had to deal with Ganon.
- On a lesser, more humorous note, Cuccos are this to the other Links (once again, save for Sky).
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: When Time notes how it took way too much effort to take out a single Moblin, Legend sarcastically asks if that's how he thanks them for their hard work.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Malon is alluded to in a comic where the other Links take notice of Time's wedding ring. She makes her proper debut in a later story arc.
- Epunymous Title: Again, guess.
- Establishing Character Moment: After Time and Malon finish their Big Damn Kiss, Malon's first actions are to welcome the Links to her and Time's home. The interactions that immediately follow once the Links are indoors show that Malon's barely even met them and yet she views her husband's various incarnations as family- even before she learns which of them actually is family.
- Eternal Hero: Forms part of the main premise.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The postman, as per canon.
- Evil Counterpart: Dark Link, the Big Bad.
- Excuse Plot: Dark Link's causing mayhem, which brings the nine Links to (eventually, once they learn of his meddling) try and stop him. Lampshaded by the author, who describes the story as "the most general plot." Considering the circumstances, however, the simplicity is somewhat more Justified, as originally Linked Universe was supposed to simply be a series of one-shot comics about the Links, with the story idea coming later and also meaning the plot takes a backseat to showing how the Links interact (the main reason behind the work's existence in the first place).
- Eyes Always Shut: Time's right eyelid is always closed. Justified, since...
- Eye Scream: Time's right eye appears to have been lost entirely, with a scar over the eyelid suggesting something violent happened in the past.
- Facial Markings: Time and Twilight have these. Time's resemble the Fierce Deity's (though their origin is unknown, since flashbacks reveal he didn't have them as a younger adult), while Twilight's appear to be as a result of exposure to Twilight/extended use of his wolf form.
- Famed In-Story: Time is this in Wind's home.
- Family of Choice: The Links are this. Time and Twilight play it more closely, and they eventually learn they're actually related by blood.
- Fiery Redhead: Malon hasn't lost it.
- Friend to All Living Things: Twilight has shades of this. It helps that he can transform into an animal himself.
- Foreshadowing: When the Links first learn Time is married, Twilight is implied to have already known. It's later revealed after the debut of Time's wife that Twilight has figured out that Time is his ancestor- of course he'd already know, his entire existence hinges on it!
- The Ghost: Ganon, Midna, various incarnations of Zelda, Ilia, Aryll, Talon, Ingo, Sidon, and Mipha (a literal ghost) are all alluded to, but never shown.
- Glory Days: Averted with Time, who doesn't seem to look back on his adventures fondly.
- Good Is Not Soft: Just about every Link. Then again, when the bad guys are demons who threaten the world's destruction, there's not much room to be soft in the first place.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Ganon, who has shaped at least one of every Link's adventures- save for Sky, who had to face Ganon's original incarnation.
- Grumpy Old Man: With the possible exception of Twilight, the other Links view Time as this. Legend even refers to him as such.
- Handicapped Badass: Time is missing his right eye. He's still a force to be reckoned with.
- Happily Married: Time is revealed to be this when the Links spot his wedding ring. They later meet Malon, his wife.
- Height Angst: Four is the shortest of the Links, presumably due to his overuse of Minish form. He subverts this trope, however, defiantly claiming that unlike some of the other Links, he's short for a reason. Cue said Links angrily glaring at him.
- Heroic Willpower: Discussed. It's his fear of averting this trope that causes Time to avoid use of the Fierce Deity's Mask.
- Hidden Depths: Wild recalls another memory of his past, which causes the other Links to worry, due to the fact that Wild views himself as a failure due to the Great Calamity. Warriors then proclaims that he's proud to serve alongside a knight who has sacrificed so much, claiming it as nothing less than praiseworthy. It's noticeably one of the few times he's not being sarcastic or playing the jokester.
- Iconic Outfit: Averted. A major part of the Links' designs is that most of them lack the green tunic, and even the ones that do keep the green tunic have a major detail added to make them more diverse (Twilight wears a fur coat on top of his tunic, and Sky has the Sailcloth wrapped around his shoulders).
- Identical Stranger: All of the Links look rather alike. Exploited by Time, who uses the resemblances to send Malon on a guessing game- he tells her that one of them is their descendant (it's Twilight), but refuses to give any details, leaving her to figure it out.
- Implied Love Interest: Sky has Zelda, and if it's anything like canon, so do Hyrule & Wind. Wild remembers Mipha fondly (his relationship with his Zelda is stated by Word of God to still be awkward), while Twilight and Legend seem to still be coping with their losses of Midna and Marin respectively. The only Links who lack a love interest seem to be Four and Warriors (though the latter alludes to the fact that he's had encounters with some crazy women in the past, referencing Cia).
- In Medias Res: The Links have already been traveling together for a while when the story begins, with no details being given to how they reacted to meeting each other. Whether their meeting will be shown or not is unknown.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Some of the more sarcastic and abrasive Links, such as Legend and Warriors.
- Killer Rabbit: The cuccos, as usual. On the Lon Lon Ranch, Legend offers a bag of Rupees (that he stole from Warriors) to anyone willing to handle them. Nobody except Sky (who has never seen a cucco and confuses them for relatives to the peaceful Loftwings) is willing to take him up on his offer.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: There are certain aspects shared by all but one Link:
- Hyrule and Four are the only Links to have never wielded the Master Sword.
- Sky is the only Link to have never fought Ganon (though he did fight Ganon's progenitor).
- The Leader: Time is this to the Links, being the oldest and one of the most experienced.
- The Lost Lenore: A nonfatal example with Midna, who Twilight seems to be still getting over after she destroyed the only way the two could ever see each other again. A more straight example would be Marin, who Legend keeps alongside the whole of Koholint as his dark secret.
- A more ambiguous example with Navi- her fate is unknown, but Time still remembers her, leaving bowls of sugar water outside the ranch in hopes of finding her.
- Meaningful Name: The Links' nicknames refer to their titles, explaining some of the odder ones, such as Hyrule and Warriors.
- My Greatest Failure: In addition to suffering an identity crisis due to his lack of memory, Wild views himself as less-than-favorable due to the fact that Calamity Ganon killed countless civilians and he couldn't stop it until 100 years later.
- Mythology Gag: Several, many in reference to the Links' outfits.
- Time is missing an eye and is wearing a suit of armor- both in reference to the Hero's Shade.
- Twilight is wearing a fur coat, referencing his wolf form.
- Legend's outfit is based on his design when wearing the Red Mail.
- Four's outfit has four colors based on the Links he can split into. Likewise, his headband is green, referencing the fact that green is his dominant color.
- Wind is wearing the lobster shirt he wears at the beginning of The Wind Waker and the entirety of said game's New Game+.
- The remaining Links wear their game outfits, minus the hats.
- Malon mentions having met Time as a child when she got separated from her father during a delivery, referencing the two's first meeting in-game.
- Wild is familiar with Twilight's wolf form, alluding to the fact that Wolf Link can be summoned to help Link in Breath of the Wild.
- Noodle Incident: According to Time, the loss of his eye (the reason of which is in and of itself a mystery) is not even the worst injury he's gotten.
- And who could forget Wild crossdressing to enter Gerudo Town?
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The other Links suspect something is up when Time suddenly becomes more cheerful and pleasant. Turns out, they're now in his version of Hyrule, and not too far from his home.
- Properly Paranoid: Time refuses to let Malon's father rehire Ingo, claiming he knows the man's true colors. Considering that in the Adult Timeline, Ingo forced Talon to flee to Kakariko Village while he forced Malon to do the hard work, lest he abuse the horses, Time has been given a very good reason to distrust Ingo.
- Red Right Hand: Time's armor is a dead giveaway to Twilight that he is Twilight's ancestor and eventual Spirit Advisor.
- Secret Keeper: Several:
- While Twilight's wolf form is known by every Link, only three know that Twilight is the wolf- Four, Wild, and Time. Wild likely knows due to Wolf Twilight being a helpful ally to him, while Time likely knows due to the fact that Twilight trusts Time to know (he is Twilight's ancestor).
- The fact that Twilight is Time's direct descendant is a secret only the two of them know. While the other Links know that the two often have private conversations, they don't know the full extent. A likely explanation is that Time wants to avoid a situation where the others feel he's playing favorites.
- Time's possession of the Fierce Deity's Mask is only known by Twilight. Time fears that if the other Links found out he owned such an artifact, a case of Broken Pedestal would occur.
- Seen It All: Bound to happen when your adventures take place across several timelines. The fact that Time can so casually mention having to fight the Moon gives shades of this.
- Shipper on Deck: Of a sort. When he first learns Time is married, Warriors initially believes that he is married to his time's Zelda, and he is so steadfast in this belief that he makes a bet with Legend on it.
- Sore Loser: Warriors following the bet mentioned above. After being proven wrong in that Time isn't married to a Zelda, he accuses Legend of cheating, claiming that his guess (that Time married a random woman so he could live a simple life) was too accurate to be random.
- So Proud of You: After Malon learns that Twilight is her and Time's direct descendant, she quickly grows worried that he's risking his life out in the wilderness. Time assuages her fears by claiming that he's proud of Twilight, and that he can handle himself. Said remark is not lost on Twilight, who goes to bed that night dwelling on the fact that his otherwise stern ancestor and mentor went out of his way to praise him.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: Wild mentions having once had to sneak into the Gerudo community during his quest. Time reveals he also snuck into the community before being granted free access due to impressing the Gerudo with his great stealth (claiming he could sneak in and out as he pleased, escaping capture from the thieves like it was child's play). When he asks Wild how he snuck into the Gerudo community, Wild, who could only sneak in undetected by crossdressing as a Hylian woman, simply says he did the same.
- Trigger Phrase: A downplayed example. After Wind reveals to the group that he has a sister, the word noticeably has an effect on Wild, the implication being he had a sister that he can't remember clearly. Unused concept art would have revealed the Wild originally had a sister.
- Wham Episode: The "Shady Escape" arc has the Links finally learn of how they were brought together, with a monster (who is most likely Dark Link himself assuming another form, given the monster's darker coloration) using a portal similar to the ones that each of the Links traveled through before they first met. The arc then ends with each of the Links following the monster through the portal right before it disappears.