Link is the protagonist in The Legend of Zelda franchise. He is not a single character, but rather a figure represented by many incarnations throughout the Legend of Zelda timeline. Each incarnation features similar characteristics, but are distinct individuals with their own histories.
Link traditionally represents one of the three pieces of the Triforce; specifically, the Triforce of Courage, for his courageous and heroic nature. The other pieces of the Triforce, the Triforces of Wisdom and Power, are traditionally represented by Princess Zelda and Ganon, respectively.
Like all Hylians, Link is a humanoid with pointed, elf-like ears. His eyes are blue, and his hair has been depicted as varying shades of brown and blonde, depending on the game. He typically wears a green tunic and a pointed stocking cap throughout most of each game, though some games offer alternate-color tunics that grant him improved defense and/or resistance to specific elements. The details of specific gear and accessories such as boots, belts, or underclothing, varies from game to game and the depiction of Link.
Later games in the series, beginning with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, typically start with Link dressed in different clothing that is depicted as his daily garb. The green tunic and cap are seen as clothes that carry significance and are granted to him at some point during the story. In The Legend Of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Link's starting outfit is merely a Hyrule Castle guard uniform. In a twist, the soldiers of Hyrule meanwhile wear green tunics and stocking caps, and although the reason has been forgotten in time, it is to pay tribute to the heroes who have come before.
Link's age varies from game to game. Some, such as The Wind Waker, depict Link as a boy, whereas others such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess cast him as an older teenager. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which involves moving forward and backward in time, he is depicted as both a boy of about ten years old and a teenager of approximately seventeen.
In the vast majority of video games in which Link appears, he is left-handed, wielding his sword with his left hand and shield with his right. In games that feature motion control, however, such as the Wii version of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, Link is depicted as right-handed to match the common majority of players.
Link is typically portrayed as a silent protagonist. What personality he has is displayed through his actions and reactions to others and the world around him. Effectively, Link is named so is because he serves as the player's "link" to the game's world.
Link is traditionally perceived as both brave and humble, traits that make him worthy of the Triforce of Courage. He rarely shows signs of cowardice and is resolute in using his strength and valor to help others and to put a stop to evil forces that threaten the land. In each game, Link is traditionally shown as having come from humble beginnings, and at times is bullied or picked on by others such as the Kokiri Forest children in Ocarina of Time that view him as an outsider or fellow Knight Academy student and rival Groose in Skyward Sword. However, Link's perseverance in his journey wins over others, eventually earning their respect.
Though Link is a silent protagonist, he is oftentimes paired with companions that aid him in his quest, and through their interactions with Link reveal details of their personalities. Some of his companions are fairies, as is the case in Ocarina of Time and the fairy Navi, Tatl in Majora's Mask, and Proxi in Hyrule Warriors. Others play much larger roles in their respective games such as Midna, the imp that aids Link's journey through the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, or Fi, the spiritual embodiment of the Goddess Sword in Skyward Sword.
The following section is a summary of some of Link's appearances in the Legend of Zelda series.
The Legend of Zelda
In the original The Legend of Zelda, Link is thrust into a quest to recover the eight pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom that Princess Zelda had shattered and hidden across Hyrule. Link must recover the pieces of the Triforce before the evil Ganon is able to locate them himself and gain even more power. Once the Triforce of Wisdom is complete, Link is able to confront Ganon and defeat him with the power of the silver arrow.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Link must locate the third piece of the Triforce, the Triforce of Courage, in order to awaken Princess Zelda from a magical sleep. As his final challenge, Link must fight his own shadow.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link embarks on a quest to first acquire the Master Sword and thwart the evil sorcerer Agahnim, and then face Ganon. A Link to the Past was the first game in the series to feature the Master Sword, as well as the first game to see Link travel to a location other than Hyrule in the Dark World.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening sees Link wash ashore on Koholint Island following a shipwreck, where he's helped by the local residents Marin and her father Tarin. Link eventually learns, however, that the island itself is a dream of the Wind Fish sleeping inside a giant egg at the center of the island, and if he wishes to return to Hyrule, he must awaken it.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link begins the game as a young boy of the Kokiri Forest mocked by his peers for not having a fairy companion of his own. Raised by the Great Deku Tree, Link is eventually able to gain a fairy in Navi, but is soon forced to go on a journey that takes him from the safety of the forest and out into the world, where he becomes wrapped up in the battle against Ganondorf.
When Link takes the Master Sword from its pedestal in the Temple of Time, time moves forward seven years, and the boy finds himself a young man in a Hyrule torn apart by Ganondorf's destructive influence.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, sees Link stumble into the land of Termina, where he becomes locked in a race against time. In three days, the moon will crash into the surface, destroying Termina and all life in it. However, Link is able to use his ocarina, first acquired in Ocarina of Time, to travel back in time to the start of the three-day period and do everything in his power to stop the moon's descent, brought about by the Skull Kid wearing Majora's Mask.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker depicts a more cartoony, cel-shaded incarnation of Link as he explores islands dotting a vast sea that was once Hyrule. When his sister Aryll and the pirate captain Tetra are kidnapped by Ganondorf, Link sets out on a quest to rescue them.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, originally developed for the GameCube and ported to the Wii, Bears the unusual distinction of depicting Link as left and right-handed, depending on the platform the game is played on. This is due to the fact that most people are right-handed, and thus the Wii version, with its motion controls, was mirrored to allow Link's actions to better mimic the actions of the majority of the game's players.
In Twilight Princess, Link is a young man caught up in the struggle against the forces of the Twilight Realm that threaten to engulf Hyrule. When inside the Twilight Realm, Link transforms into a wolf; a form that proves to be a hindrance until he meets Midna, an impish creature that aids him on his journey out of their mutual need for each other.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduces Link as a resident of Skyloft, a land that exists above the clouds. In this game, Link has been Zelda's best friend since they were children, and he is training at the Knight Academy, though he is at first depicted as a lazy student who has never really tried that hard. However, Link manages to pass his exam, allowing him to become a knight, but when Zelda is swept away to the surface world, he sets off to find her.
The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)
Link returns in the upcoming Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U. Little is known about the Link in this game or the specifics of his adventure.
Over the course of the series, Link has come to use a wide variety of weapons and equipment. Some of the more prominent items associated with him are listed below.
- Master Sword: The Master Sword is a legendary blade that first appears in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It is the most powerful sword in Hyrule. When not in use, it is set in a pedestal from which it can only be claimed by one of heroic qualities.
- Hylian Shield: Also known as the Hero's Shield, the Hylian Shield is the most powerful shield Link can equip in most games in the series.
- Boomerang: This item is typically among the first items that Link acquires. The boomerang will stun enemies, attach to items, and break pots. In Twilight Princess, it causes a mini-tornado that can put out fires and bring small items back to Link.
- Bow: Occasionally called the Fairy Bow, this is Link's most common ranged attack. Unlike the boomerang, arrows fired with the bow can deal damage to most enemies, rather than stun them.
- Bombs: Link commonly uses bombs destroy certain objects, open secret passageways, and in combat against certain enemies. Variations include the scurrying, mouse-like Bombchu.
- Hookshot: A grappling hook-like device, this item can attach to certain objects in the environment to allow Link to clear otherwise impassible gaps or activate switches. Twilight Princess offers a variation of the hookshot known as the clawshot.
Link is a playable character in the upcoming Hyrule Warriors; a collaboration between Nintendo and Koei Tecmo, the publisher of the Musou franchise. His design in the game takes inspiration from his appearance in the Skyward Sword prequel manga published in the book Hyrule Historia, with a shoulder guard on his left arm and a long, blue scarf. In this game, he is a Hylian soldier trainee that becomes embroiled in the conflict. He is also able to communicate with fairies, and gains a companion in Proxi, a fairy that speaks in place of him.
Link is capable of wielding multiple weapon types in Hyrule Warriors. Weapons he can use include his traditional combination of a Hylian sword and shield, a magic rod, and powerful gauntlets that let him fight with a heavy ball and chain or by picking up and throwing objects.
Super Smash Bros.
Link is a recurring playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series. Later editions of the series typically include multiple variations of the character. In each game, he is listed as one of the characters available for play from the very start, those the variant version must be unlocked.
Link's appearance in the original Super Smash Bros. is based on his Ocarina of Time character model. In addition to the Master Sword, he can wield subweapons such as bombs, the boomerang and a hookshot.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Link is once again represented by his Ocarina of Time design. In this game, the bow has been added to his arsenal. Young Link, based on the child version of Link in Ocarina of Time, can be unlocked. Young Link is faster and more agile than the standard Link, but is also weaker.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Link's appearance is based on his Twilight Princess design. Link's Final Smash is the Triforce Slash, in which he traps an opponent in two Triforce symbols and deals out a quick series of sword strikes before delivering a final blow. Toon Link, based on Link's appearance in The Wind Waker, can be unlocked.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, Link's appearance mixes elements of his Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword designs. Toon Link is also once again available as a playable character.
Outside of The Legend of Zelda and Super Smash Bros. series, Link has made numerous appearances in other games, ranging from fully playable to simple cameos. Some of these appearances are listed below.
Soul Calibur II
Link is included as a guest character in the GameCube version of Soul Calibur II. His default weapon is the Master Sword, but the player can unlock other weapons for him to use. He can also deal damage using traditional subweapons such as the bombs and bow, and his sword attacks include moves such as the downward thrust found in Zelda II.
The NES Remix series on the Wii U features a number of Zelda-themed challenges, with the first NES Remix featuring the original The Legend of Zelda, and NES Remix 2 including challenges based on Zelda II. Certain remix stages task the player with controlling Link in a non-Zelda context, such as navigating a Super Mario Bros. level.
In Scribblenauts Unlimited, the player can summon forth a variety of Nintendo-themed characters and items. Among this list includes Link, Zelda, and the Master Sword.
As a silent protagonist, Link traditionally does not have any spoken dialogue. However, beginning with his appearance in Ocarina of Time, various actors and actresses have provided his voice, limited mostly to battle grunts and similar exertion sounds. Actors that have portrayed Link in this manner include:
Link is a protagonist alongside Princess Zelda in the thirteen-episode The Legend of Zelda cartoon series produced by DiC Entertainment that originally aired in 1989. He subsequently appeared in three episodes of the second season of Captain N: The Game Master. In both shows, Link was voiced by actor Jonathan Potts. Link's characterization in The Legend of Zelda is sarcastic and comedic. He often expresses disagreement with Princess Zelda with the catchphrase "Excuuuuuuse me, Princess!"
Comics and Manga
Link appeared as the protagonist of The Legend of Zelda comic book series published by Valiant Comics in 1990. His characterization in the comics was largely based on his interpretation in the DiC animated series. The comic itself was short-lived and cancelled after five issues.
Link later appeared in a special comic based on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that was serialized in the magazine Nintendo Power from January to December of 1992. Though it was written and drawn by Japanese manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori, it was created and published as an English-first comic.
Various incarnations of Link have appeared in a series of serialized manga written and drawn by Akira Himekawa (the pen name of a pair of female manga artists, A. Honda and S. Nagano). Beginning with an adaptation of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1999, a number of other Zelda titles have since been adapted by Himekawa, and volumes of their work have been published in English by Viz Media. For the Legend of Zelda art/chronology text Hyrule Historia, Himekawa authored a manga short story that serves as a prequel to the events of Skyward Sword.
- The Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2011 ranks Link as the second most popular video game character of all time, behind only Mario. The ranking was determined by reader vote.
- Link makes a cameo appearance along with Navi in an episode of the cartoon The Powerpuff Girls as a video game character.
- A tombstone in the English language version of the original Final Fantasy included in Final Fantasy Origins on the PlayStation states "May Link rest in peace." In the Dawn of Souls collection on the GBA, the tombstone reads "Here lies Link."
- Link and Metroid protagonist Samus Aran were planned for inclusion in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance but this idea was ultimately scrapped.
- Paraphernalia commonly associated with Link has appeared in a variety of video games over the years in reference to him and the Zelda series in general. Examples include the appearance of the Master Sword in games such as Animal Crossing. In the Wii U version of Bayonetta, Bayonetta has an alternate outfit inspired by Link, and can also use the Master Sword. When dressed in this costume, various other graphic and sound elements of the game alter to fit the Zelda theme, as well.
- Of the three unofficial Zelda CD-i games produced by Phillips, Link is only playable in the first game, Link: The Faces of Evil. In the CD-i games, he was voiced by Jeffrey Rath.