NOTE: It’s been a couple years since I dabbled back into my theory writing. Being recently unemployed in depressed, I’ve been desperately seeking to spark my motivation to be creative again. I’ve decided to reopen to archives of my Zelda lore fandom and finish some of the theories I’ve been working on: This is the first theory I’ve managed to complete, so I hope you’re ready for some extreme Zelda content:
ANOTHER NOTE: For disclosure, my theories do not go against any canon events according to the timeline in Hyrule Historia. If you’re not familiar with Hyrule Historia, it’s a massive college-sized textbook that released in late 2011 that reveals the official timeline of events in the Zelda series (aka The Zelda Bible).
I call this theory the “forgotten hero” because it sounds cool as hell and nobody really knows what events led Link to become the mysterious, creepy ghost thing known as the Hero’s Shade. In Hyrule Historia, it’s revealed that the Hero’s Shade in Twilight Princess is actually the ghost of Ocarina of Time Link, which was also confirmed to be an ancestor to the Twilight Princess Link.
In Twilight Princess, Hero Shade’s appears whenever Link approaches a Howling Stone, which transport him to the Ghostly Ether. He teaches Link hidden skills required to wield the Master Sword with courage, as well as challenge the Hero’s Shade to prove his mastery.
Now, let’s take a look at the Hero Shade himself (source: Zeldapedia) :
Appearance: Hero Shade’s appears to be in a destroyed armor, covered in dirt and grass. The armor has a bird-like design on the chest plate. His left eye glows red, which may indicate an injury.
Personality: He is determined to teach Link hidden moves with the Master Sword and gets frustrated when he cannot. When Link finally learns all the hidden moves and proves his mastery, Hero’s Shade says some pretty deep shit:
“Although I accepted life as the hero, I could not convey the lessons of that life to those who came after. At last, I have eased those regrets.”
Interpreting this quote, it seems that Ocarina of Time Link did not die being remembered as a hero, and regrets passing down his skills to the next generation. Before I conclude to what I believe led to his ghostly fate, I would like to bring up a few other theories to help support my conclusion
Theory #1: Link is a descendant of the Knights of Hyrule:
In Skyward Sword, Link was training to become a Knight in Skyloft, who look after the city and protect the people. After Demise is defeated and sealed away, Link moves to the surface with Zelda in order to protect her. Because he is combat trained and a practicing knight, it only makes sense that Link became a leader and started the surface knights, which eventually become the Knights of Hyrule.
If you compare similarities of the Hero’s Shade to Skyward Sword; the bird-like symbol on the armor can be easily interpreted as a Loftwing design. Since the Loftwings were guardians of the Skyloft people and the Triforce, it only makes sense the armor would carry on the design as a “protector” of the Knights. We also see evidence of Link possibly being a descendant of a Hylian Knight in Ocarina of Time. After Link defeats Phantom Ganon in the Forest Temple, he travels to the Deku Tree location and is confronted by a Deku Tree Sprout. The sprout tells Link the truth about his Hylian blood and how he ended up in the Kokiri Village:
“One day, to escape from the fires of the war, a Hylian mother and her baby boy entered this forbidden forest. The mother was gravely injured… Her only choice was to entrust the child to the Deku Tree, the guardian spirit of the forest.”
Interpreting this quote, it’s most likely his father was a Knight of Hyrule himself, and died during combat. His mother, unable to raise a child by her injured self, was force to leave him with the Great Deku Tree
Theory #2: Link marries Malon after he returns from his journey in Majora’s Mask:
Now, this theory is a bit tricky, because the whereabouts of Link post Majora’s Mask have been debated multiple times. Many believe that Link became a Stalfos in the Lost Woods while searching for Navi. but this can easily be debunked because since he was searching for her as a child, he would have became a Skull kid and not a Stalfos (Also note that thee Hero Shade’s armor doesn’t match that of a Stalfos, but more like he was in battle). I believe after his adventures in Termina, Link returns to Hyrule.
There are many clues and events that happen in Ocarina of Time that lead us to believe that Link winds up with Malon; one of the biggest ones is the Gossip Stone stating: “they say that Malon of Lon Lon Ranch hopes a knight in shining armor will come and sweep her off her feet someday.“. She also confirmed she had a crush on Link, and his deep connection with Epona led to them having a stronger relationship as well. If you look at clues in Twilight Princess, Link lives on a farm, has a horse named Epona, and knows Epona’s song (which was passed down by generations). Basically, there’s a strong chance this theory is true.
If Link marries the farm girl (who is unaware of his defeat against Ganondorf), than his relationship with Zelda is merely platonic. This means he never becomes part of the Royal Family, and never becomes a Prince/King of Hyrule. His life becomes more simple and his triumphs start to fade.
Because I believe his ancestors were Knights of Hyrule, it’s expected he becomes a working knight in Ocarina of Time. With Malon and Talon available to run Lon Lon Ranch, Link has no use on the farm . During his years of combat, he most likely died during a battle (including an injury in his left eye as seen in the Hero’s Shade), leaving his heroic legacy to be forgotten. Because his forgotten triumphs against Ganon and death, he becomes a sad ghost of a hero. This ghost lives for hundreds of years, searching and waiting for someone to pass his legacy on to. This brings us the Twilight Princess Link, who is the ancestor of Ocarina of Time Link and possibly Malon. After meeting in the Ghostly Ether, he was finally able to pass down his skills and legacy onto a new hero, and frees himself of his regret.
It’s a pretty sad conclusion, but I’ve always enjoyed the dark elements in the Zelda series and could definitely see my theory being accepted as a possible truth.
So what do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts with me through any of my platforms. I would love to talk Zelda with you!