The world knew nothing of the boy without a fairy. And yet, as The Wind Waker put its, he came as if from nowhere, and shook the foundations of the world, conquering the darkness. But “after battling evil and saving Hyrule,” he “crept away from the land that had made him a legend.” And so, “done with the battles he once waged across time, he embarked on a journey. A secret and personal journey.” We all know this as the introduction to Majora’s Mask. That was the last game on the Nintendo 64.

Now that we have witnessed the rise of the Hero of Winds, a major question arises in our minds. “What really happened to the Hero of Time?” Did he return from Termina? Did he, like Odysseus of Greek fame, return to his homeland, or was he trapped forever in a parallel world?

Staying in Termina

Many Zelda fans believe that Link did not and could not have returned from Termina. The primary reason they give is that Link entered Termina by falling down a chasm, and there would be no way for him to get back. But this argument is based on the assumption of a non-fantasy world where we know what would and would not work. To use the example of the Chronicles of Narnia again, there is more than one way of traveling between Earth and Narnia. It is implied that the Mask Salesman can travel between worlds. Apparently he has great magic power, as evidenced by his knowledge of the Song of Healing, and by his vanishing act at the end of the game. More clearly, the Skull Kid was obviously able to travel between the worlds, although it might be argued that Majora’s Mask is what gave him this power. So there are two reasons why it is perfectly reasonable to believe that Link could return. The first is that there may be other ways back to Hyrule, which Link would use now that he had completed the task he had agreed to do in exchange for being restored to his true form by the Mask Salesman. The second is that magic can do a lot in a fantasy world, be it through the ocarina, a mask, the gods themselves, or some other means. The game does not explain how many things happen, and nor does it need to, since it is a fantasy.

A more significant argument is that in The Wind Waker, it sounds as if the last we hear of Link is that he vanishes to a new land. Yet what would we expect? If he returned, he would settle in relative obscurity for several reasons. First, Ganon did not return until long after Link had returned. He would have done no more great deeds when he returned, and so functionally speaking, his greatness ended with his passage to Termina (indeed, we are told that he was separated from the elements that made him a hero at that point), and no more word of him would pass down many hundreds of years (see here), surviving even the Flood. Second, it is in keeping with his personality as a loner. As Majora’s Mask begins, Link is alone on Epona, deep in the Lost Woods. If he returned, and if he finished his searches for Navi at the edges of the world, he would settle in a familiar, hidden place in the forest, away from the cities and view of men. Third, even if some people managed to catch a glimpse of him, they might not truly recognize him for the hero that he is. In Ocarina of Time almost no one recognized him as a great hero. Just about the only ones that came to recognize his true nature were those with great power. In general no one sees him for who he is in either Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask until the deed is done, and even then he doesn’t get a huge fanfare like we see at the end of Star Wars Episode I.

As a side-note, that leads us to ask the question, how did he become “the legendary one” in the first place? Clearly, from those who were in the know. Whose legend is this? It’s the legend of “Zelda,” and the royal family. Zelda’s father wouldn’t believe her portents early in Ocarina of Time, much like Cassandra of Troy. Now that Hyrule is shifted back in time to the earlier period, Ganon is “no longer a threat.” Skirting aside the issue of the enormous contradictions generated by time travel, we look at it with the simplicity of Nintendo and think of the situation as it is. Is everyone suddenly going to recognize Link as a mighty hero? No. How could they? There isn’t much proof. In order for the truth to disseminate to the common people-and even the King-Zelda (and perhaps the other sages) must establish the legend as true. And to do that takes building up a reputation of wisdom, and that takes time. By that time, Link is gone. Zelda heard of how he vanished to Termina, and “no one saw him again.” Perhaps people did “see” him again, but they didn’t see him with true understanding. If they caught glimpses of him-for that is all they would get, since Link was a loner-they didn’t know he was the legendary one until they found out that the legendary one even existed in the first place. Some might say something like, “Hey, it’s that guy who saved my chicken!” But it would be a while before they would think, “Hey, it’s that time-traveling guy who saved the world!” By then Link has wandered and settled in the far reaches of Hyrule or is perhaps even dead. That is the nature of legends. In any event, there is no reason to believe that there would be any significant enough story about the Hero of Time after his return to Hyrule to survive down to the times of The Wind Waker.

Returning to Hyrule

But what does Majora’s Mask itself say? In my book, it seems fairly clear in saying that he did return to Hyrule. Granted, there is no text explicitly saying it, but the end of the game shows him on Epona in the same place where the game began. This not only makes sense in terms of storytelling, but it’s a cinematic way of explicitly telling us that he did indeed return. Not only that, but the sequences before that emphasize departure. The ending isn’t just, “By crikey, Termina is happy, nice little place, and I’m going to settle here.” It rather has a slightly sad tone, the sadness of departure. That’s because it emphasizes the “Goodbye” part, and isn’t goodbye to Hyrule. It’s, “Goodbye. I’ll likely never see you again, but we’ll be friends anyway.”

On the other hand, there may be a small something in Majora’s Mask that indicates Link stays in Termina. After saving Romani Ranch, Romani tells Link that because the poes will attack in later years, Link should stay there with their family. “And you can have Romani’s bed!” She then grins (as when she tells you “You’re cute!”) as she closes it off with the statement, “So then, it’s settled!” Since the games avoid putting words in Link’s mouth as much as possible, they sometimes use that sort of text to inform us that Link has agreed to something. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing in this case whether Romani is simply assuming Link is agreeing to it, or if the game really is trying to use that to tell us that Link will stay there after he saves the world.

So Majora’s Mask itself appears to indicate on the whole that Link did indeed return to Hyrule. But there are more reasons why it is more believable to think that Link returned. Why would Nintendo close the door on making any more games with him? It does seem that the first direction they were going for the next game was to use adult Link. Of course they later scrapped that, but the point is that it would be very uncharacteristic of Nintendo to shut the book on a hero like that. And in fact, in Nintendo’s own mind, Link did return from Termina. Before The Wind Waker, the official timeline had Link returning from Termina. That particular timeline is no longer valid, but it nevertheless shows that Nintendo thought Link returned to Hyrule. In addition to such evidence, we might also point to the context of the other games. Link could not have had descendants in Hyrule (as we know to be true) if he did not live in Hyrule (unless you suppose that his descendents were the ones who traveled back to Hyrule!).

The nature of the storytelling of Majora’s Mask, Nintendo’s own comments on the game, a bit of logic, and the weak evidence on the side of the naysayers all point to one conclusion. Link did indeed return to Hyrule, settled into relative obscurity, and did no more great deeds that would be remembered for centuries, at least in part due to the long peace.


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This retro article was originally posted June 4th, 2003.
Related Topics
  • darkbeastganon

    Wind Waker turns out to be Majora’s Mask’s parallel and Twilight Princess takes place after Majora’s Mask.

  • Corey

    Link simply went back to the child Link.

  • MindDrone

    There’s the rumors zelda wii will feature oot link. So we might find out what will happen.

    • Darktoonlink88

      Troll or idiot?

      • ILiekZelda

        Read the comment date before you reply harsh comments……

        • strongfan

          How was the comment posted 44 weeks ago if the article was just posted today?

          • If you'll look at the bottom of the article you'll find a disclaimer that says this was originally released in 2003. And directly above that is an explanation that says ZU will be posting "retro articles" throughout the next few months. I'm guessing so that they can get an idea of their up-to-date members' views on these topics.

          • QueenxLink

            Yowza, late much?

          • Robert


            It is possible that this rumor can be theory. You never really can tell until we play the game. Since OOT and MM Link is the Hero of Time, he could have even went back in time some how to when the master sword was the skyward sword and such.

          • Elf Link

            Not likely, since in Skyward Sword, Link resides in Skyloft and not Hyrule, as was stated by Nintendo itself! Anyway, I'm looking foward to it and I hope they unravel new thing in the Zelda universe (not the site) for us to talk about!

          • Darktoonlink88

            Sorry, I didn't see that, I thought that comment date was just an error. But the explanation only says 'articles like this', I don't see it litteraly saying that it they mean old articles. I thought they meant theories about the games. And the date is minuscule, so you overlook that easily.

  • Bingo675

    Link went back to Hyrule. Plain and simple. The Hero's Bow, among other things, is clear evidence of this.

  • MoronOfTime

    Interesting article 🙂 I still think that Ocarina Of Time led onto two alternate story lines (Adult ending and Child ending) , one leading to Majora's Mask and the other to the Wind Waker / Twilight Princess line.

    The story line of Zelda is a funny thing, but that's why we love it, right? It lets us imagine our own direction of how it goes.

    • As I learned it, it would make more sense. WW said that Link did not return. I assume that must be the adult timeline, in where there is a Zelda, but no Link since he went back to his own time.

      I like this article though. Keeps you thinking about it all 🙂

  • OoTfanatic

    I completely agree with MoronOfTime. I believe in the alternate timelines. This article certainly showed me new perspective.

    • Thisisnot Myrealname

      I second that. if we all knew the whole zelda timeline, it would be pretty awesome, but there would be way more "WHAT THE…?"s than "cool"s. its kinda like reading a book and then watching the movie of it. The actors are NOT what you imagined.

  • Topaz Mutiny

    This is a great article that is very thought-out, and I agree with most of it. There is one major problem that bothers me, and it is the referencing of TWW for this article.

    In the second paragraph of Staying in Termina you start to reference TWW as though it came chronologically after MM. This is currently a disputed fact, since we have no official timeline to go by, but even so the most accepted theory is that TWW occurs after the Adult Timeline, and not the Child Timeline that MM takes place in (for those that support the Split Timeline theory, at least). I'd recommend placing a paragraph before this one explaining a little bit about which Timeline theory you support, since there are and will be people who will denounce TWW support because it doesn't fit in the Timeline they perceive. If they know which theory you support, they will understand the explanations in the article better.

    I myself think that TWW and MM are not connected in the timeline, and so I do find issue with the evidence presented; paragraphs such as #2 of Staying in Termina and #3 of Returning to Hyrule don't hold much water in my view, but the way you presented it is well done regardless of what I think. 🙂

    • Guy

      Except this was probably originally posted before the split timeline theory was created.

  • Dan

    Great article. My only issue is the typo at the end of paragraph four. I'm pretty sure you meant "In general no one sees him for who he is in either Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask until the deed is done, and even then he doesn’t get a huge fanfare like we see at the end of Star Wars Episode IV."
    Episode I never happened.

    • Oni Nick

      Oh, I knew that was a typo! Did they make a first episode?

    • Darktoonlink88

      I hate haters like you… The last three episodes were good as well, just because they're different doesn't mean they're bad.

      • ChainofTermina

        I agree. they prequels seemed fine to me. not great, but fine.

      • Chrome

        if you "hate" haters, that means you hate yourself. o.o

  • BEN

    You shouldn't have done that.

    • ILiekZelda

      Oh but he did.

    • BitF Adict

      Oh, I didn't do that, but I did do YOUR MOM!

  • Headphoneguy

    Is it just my computer or does it say that the first comment is 116 weeks old?

    • MoronOfTime

      Not just yours, mine says it too 0.o

    • QueenxLink

      Yes, the comment's 116 weeks old 😛 As Thareous said, this article was released in 2003. It says it at the bottom of the article, see? "This retro article was originally posted June 4th, 2003."

  • Cyarwood

    Hmmm…. Let's wait for Skyward Sword and see if that has anything to do with the OOT Link… Heck, maybe they'll make the decision to port Majora's Mask to he 3DS and give a secret ending (a different one than the N62 version) and show what happens……. that's just me getting my hopes up, though.

  • Cyarwood


  • KingOfHeart

    Your article is all wrong!
    Your timeline theory is wrong. It goes Adult ending/Wind Waker and Majora's Mask/Twilight Princess.

    Second, in your other article you said he was looking for Skull Kid, so why do you say Navi now? It's like you undid your theory.

    Best to do more research.

    • The article was written in 2003 says so right at the bottom), and Twilight Princess wasn't out at that time. And near the end the author says that the timeline he was picking from "is no longer valid," assuming that's what you were talking about.

    • Darktoonlink88

      An official timeline has never been confirmed, so that's debatable. And I noticed the Navi thing too, but this is a different author.

  • Darth Goron

    If you believe that the TP Link's ghostly mentor is OoT Link, then it's obvious that he returned and went into the forest, becoming a stalfos! DUH!

    • EMaN

      Hey, he had to come through the forest to return! Maybe he turned into a stalfos then? 😛

  • It does make sense that Link may be trapped in Termina, but his descentants likely found the portal back to Termina, made it through the Lost Woods, and into Hyrule before the Great Deluge took place. Otherwise, the original "Hero of Time" might have just settled in Termina and lived out the rest of his days there. But that still doesn't explain why he'd give up the search of his "beloved friend," unless Nintendo somehow meant Romani, who looked like Malon from OoT, but that's just a longshot and lacks sufficient evidence.

    • I wonder why everyone's assuming he 'settles' in either place. What if he keeps searching?

  • ILiekZelda

    So wait I have an idea here……Link possibly could have undid everything he did in Termia! Think about it…..Link went back in time after OoT, he could have just stayed an adult, but he decided to go back to his childhood. In MM he could have wanted to go back in time to make up for lost time finding his lost friend. So that would be why Link's travels in Termia went unknown! So then he gets lost and turns into a Stalfos!

  • Shadowknight1

    I still would like to know for sure whether he found Navi again and what else might have happened before he re-settled in Hyrule. There's still storytelling potential with that Link.

  • Sanity's_Theif

    Isn't his disappearance referenced to the fact that Zelda sent Link back in time thus removing him from that world?

    And then in TP that Link is a descendant of the hero right? So meaning the link from OOT must've come back to hyrule to start a family there, so isn't it obvious he had to return? Plus the hero's shade knew songs from MM, how would he know of those songs if it wasn't OOT Link who traveled to Termina?

    Ah this is all kinda confusing, mostly because the games are so vague with this stuff

    • Guest

      I personally thought of those songs being passed on before. Sweet! I just was like: "songs be back! That's awesome". So, that puts a new perspective on this whole thing.

  • evilbilby695

    ummm you said link entertermina by hole in the ground then the first thign he saw after he landed was a ray of light with skull kid there that ray of light could serve the same perpus as it did in oot sends link jumping out of the hole thats what he did he simply enter the ray of light whent back up to the forest or the four gods led him in the right direction

  • xRallinkx

    I don't think this article took the parallel timeline into thought.

  • Spoon

    You do realise the entire Wind Waker thing makes sense if you accept the fact that tWW happens in the adult timeline, right?
    There's no evidence for what happened to MM Link to be found in tWW because the games are not at all related. Adult hero of time beats up Ganon using a bottle and then leaves, causing the legend in tWW. Nobody really remembers young Link in TP, because that's the timeline where he went to Termina.

  • bobbby

    good article but rather confusing as you talk as if the series follows a single timeline. It doesn't dude. It splits in 2 after Oot. And link must have come back, after all, the hero's bow is in twilight princess (which generally speaking is MM's sequel)

    • Twilit_Dragon

      I totally agree, don't know why someone gave you thumbs down

    • lucas

      spits into three time lines

      the child link timeline
      the adult link timeline
      and the fallen hero timelie

  • ChainofTermina

    of course Link made it back to Hyrule! How else could all of the fan fiction happen! (jk. XD)

  • yanoit15

    really i dont have any idea….i just play the games to enjoy them although, the timeline is interesting.i dont really know anything about the timelines so i cant say whether i favor a certain 1 or not. great article and,as always from ZU, gives me a lot to think about.

  • QueenxLink

    I never really thought of Link being trapped in Termina…

  • Veerraann

    Has anyone ever asked the question "HOW THE FRACK DID LINK GET EPONA AS A KID"????!!!!

    • Guest

      I know, right!

  • anonymouse

    why'd you mention oddyseis, isn't that in English 4/british literature? I hate that class

  • Ben

    Why is the first comment 116 weeks old???

    • A disclaimer at the bottom of the article:

      This retro article was originally posted June 4th, 2003.

      ZU is bringing back old posts over the next few months for our enjoyment and debate. Read above this disclaimer for verification.

  • I think the only reason that they reported this article was to see how many readers actually read the comments (or the article itself) before posting their comments. Nearly half the comments on here say the same thing, commenting about how the article is so out of date. If they would just take the precious time it takes to skim the comments, they’d realize that MANY people have said that, and MANY other people have pointed out that this article is from 2003. But nobody checks before posting, so we get a bunch of stupid ranting comments all complaining about the antiquity and inaccuracy of this theory.

  • Twilit_Dragon

    The Skull Kid only got Majora's Mask in the beginning of the game, so how could he go back and forth before that, in which he did, your theory is flawed.

  • KamikazeGible

    That is the only thing I dislike about Zelda. The storylines are never very clear, and my slight OCD hates not knowing these things. XD But awesome theory and explanation nonetheless

  • ThatOneGuy

    I haven't read the article yet. I just want to know before I read it: Are thereMajora's Mask spoilers in the article? I haven'y beat the game yet…

    • ThatOneGuy

      I meant to type "haven't", but it came out haven'y. Sorry.

    • masteroftheobvious

      yea, there is and by the way, thatoneguy, you stole my usual name!!!!

      • ThatOneGuy

        Sorry, I didn't know…I just use this name to be anonymous. Thanks for the answer though.



    • MoronOfTime

      That's an okay theory, but did you have to type it in Capitals?

      • BitF Adict


      • JEEVES


  • Ben

    i recon majora's mask and ocarina of time had a weird timeline
    kid link OoT
    all of MM
    adault link OoT

  • Guest

    Guys, caution when yelling at this article to consider TP/
    This article was made in '03 and TP wasn't announced until '04-'05

    • Why are 7 year old articles that are clearly out of touch with the information we have now being posted again?

  • sprocket07

    K, what I think, is that Link comes back to Hyrule, then does whatever. Then he dies. Then Twilight Princess Link comes a long and saves everyone, then dies. Then there's the Flood. Then Wind Waker Link comes and does whatever. Then he goes to the weird dimension with Tetra. I think that that dimension is flooded Termina.

    I know that this totally contradicts the release dates of the games, but, it's just my opinion.

  • CEObrainz

    So why couldn't Link play any warp song that he learnt in Ocarina of Time, and easily teleport back to hyrule? Although I do suppose as he learnt it as a adult, he wouldn't remember it when he went to Termina?

    And maybe just maybe, as Link finishes an adventure he places all his items in new dungeons for a later Link to find?

    • Ivan Bracamonte

      I think it;s kind of obvious.
      Majora's mask is a different game from oot.
      why would nintendo want us going back to hyrule and all of its areas during majora's mask.
      The game needed new songs to play.
      Link has memory of everything he saw and learned as an adult.
      Even though he is a child he still remembers.
      That is why Zelda warps Link back to his child form so that he can warn zelda and the king of what was about to happen.


  • Zelda fan0652

    I think Link DID return to Hyrule……..well duh he's Hero Of Hyrule so he needs to get back to Hyrule to continue his Heroic bussiness

  • Terrenth

    I know it's not canon history but at the end of the Majora's Mask manga ( Himekawa Akira ) Link clearly says "Farewell, Termina".

  • Ivan Bracamonte

    Link has the Ocarina of Time which has magical powers. He still has memory of the songs Sheik taught Link. Link could just play them and warp back to the Lost Woods using the Minuet of Forest, and even back to Hyrule using the Prelude of Light.

  • Taha_Soysal

    It's a nice old article and an interesting read. But aren't MM and WW on different timelines? I'm not really keen on timeline theory, but I thought that the child timeline went like this: OOT-MM-TP and WW was on the adult timeline.

    But then again, this article was written before TP came out, so…yeah.

  • [eRRe]

    I remember i saw Link ridding on Epona in the lost woods at the end of Majora's Mask D:

    • Twilit_Dragon

      I just beat this a month ago and he was riding in the lost woods, again someone gave someone thumbs down on the obvious.

  • David Conway

    Split timeline is confirmed. Wind Waker takes place in the future of the "Adult Timeline," in which Link returns to the past, therefore "disappearing and leaving Hyrule forever." It seems to be the case that all other games take place in the "Child Timeline," in which Link goes back to his original time, grows older, leaves Hyrule and goes to Termina, but then later returns and apparently settles down, has children, and his future descendants become the new Heroes (considering the fact that Link in TWW did NOT have the Triforce of Courage whereas TP Link DID).

    • The trick here is that 'leaving Hyrule forever' could apply to either scenario.

      ""When the Hero of Time was called to embark on another journey and left the land of Hyrule, he was separated from the elements that made him a hero. It is said that at that time, the Triforce of Courage was split into eight shards and hidden throughout the land." — King of Red Lions (The Wind Waker)"

      This could occur via him leaving for Termina just the same as it could apply to him leaving the Adult timeline.

  • zfragger

    I believe that link did return from termina. Evidence of can be found at the end of MM where link is back in the lost woods, and in TP where when you get the green tunic where it say in the description that it once was worn by a legendary hero, after you finish with the goron mines Renado says In Hyrule, countless tales are told of the ancient hero and your deeds bring them all to mind, and after you save the zora prince QUEEN RUTELA's ghost says my husband created garments specifically for the chosen hero, garments that house the abilities of the Zora. And yes I do believe in the split time line theory where adult OOT link leads to TWW while kid OOT link leads to MM and then TP.

  • DJDantae

    He left termina, but did not go back to hyrule.
    He still never found navi. (I struggle to see why he'd want to, but meh)

  • Zxz

    Iv'e been playing he wind Waker for a bit f time now and I Have been getting a good understanding of the map after the flood. By sailing around and maping the area, I have gotten a good undersanding about the story. In he beggining of the game, it tells of an ancient hero who rose up from an devistated hyrule and defeated the evil king (Gandorf). later on, Gandorf escaped and layed waste once more to the land. The commoners wished for he hero to come back but he NEVER came back. In their tme of need, they prayed to the goddesses for it to end. The rest was lost in history. I have also played Major's Mask and can make an educated guess that he was trapped there or stayed there for the rest of his life. This is my opinion. Everyone has their opinions and please don't put multiple negatives. Thank you.

  • Zeldafan1

    i think he didn't return but he died in majora's mask because in twilight princess the hero shade resembles a skull fas and he has a dirtied up version of the mirror shield and the gilded sword and he says "do not falter my child" and link is the son in tp his mom would be malon because he has the adult version of epona and hes a rancher but it would only be possible if back in ocarina of time when he was adult link he impregnated malon then by the time the baby was out he went back in time and the baby link got sent because of the triforcer then grew up with malon as she is a teen and hes a kid because they found baby link there but then ganondorf gets out of prison going after link but goes for the baby link bcuz he looks like young link and then ganondorf kills malon and the family but link escapes in ganondorfs quest he is passing the gerudo desert then the seven sages (six sages) seal him away back in ordon link young gets taken care of for a couple years then the other kids are born.

  • Linkfan1

    oops i meant stalfas

  • Linkfan1

    when hylians die in a forest they turn into a stalfas

  • Geoff

    You’re gay.

  • Brian

    I agree with Geoff, you’re a bit gay.

  • Mike

    I agree with Brian and Geoff, your super gay

  • Roger

    You said it Mike, this guy is so gay

  • Rick

    Yea Roger, this guy is just too gay

  • Nick

    You said it Rick, Trahald is the gayest guy.

  • Nick

    you are totally right Nick, this is the gayest person of all time!

  • Rick

    Stop acting like mike man, Nick. He didnt say that

  • John
  • Rick