Why Termina finally makes sense
by on July 28, 2017

The world of Majora’s Mask has always been shrouded in mystery and recently, but finally the third book in Dark Horse’s Zelda series Hyrule Encyclopedia revealed the solution to the puzzle that is Termina’s existence in the world of The Legend of Zelda. The answer it reveals is that Termina is merely a fabrication, created by the power of Majora’s Mask when worn by the Skull Kid, and the world ceases to exist once Link departs at the end of the game.

Many fans in many comment sections have laid into Nintendo suggesting that this is a lazy “it was never real” retcon. Some have said that it’s impossible for Majora’s Mask to create a world, that the only thing that has that much power is the Triforce. However, I want to take Nintendo’s side on this one and explain how very real Termina was, how Link got there, and how it makes perfect sense in terms of feasibility.

Falling down the rabbit hole

When Link fell down the void within the Lost Woods in the opening cutscene of the game, we are led to believe that he literally plummeted into another world. I would like to challenge that notion with my own idea, that the void was a portal of sorts into the Skull Kid’s new world of Termina. The Legend of Zelda is no stranger to portals like this; we have seen these many times dating all the way back to A Link to the Past, when our hero jumps from Hyrule to the Dark World.

Also, for this I’d like to take a look at something that I always figured was a massive plot hole but now makes perfect sense. As we all know, when Link chases Skull Kid, the fairies, and Epona, he is led into a gigantic tree that has a bottomless pit inside of it. We know Epona eventually ends up at Romani Ranch, but between the beginning of the game and then, where did Epona go? Did she jump down there along with Skull Kid? The explanation we get is that Skull Kid “got rid of” her because she wouldn’t obey his commands. Then we’re expected to believe that she wanders on her own to Romani Ranch?

Exactly how Epona gets deposited at Romani Ranch when it was sealed of is quite the mystery.

Exactly how Epona gets deposited at Romani Ranch when it was sealed off is quite the mystery.

Yes, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to believe because that’s exactly what happened. As Link fell, this is where the transition between realities occurred. I’m claiming that the tree itself acted as a portal to Termina, and, once Skull Kid and crew went through it, Epona appeared at Romani Ranch. The only way it would make sense for Epona to teleport like this is if it were Skull Kid’s world, where he wrote the rules about how and why each character that came across appeared.

So that explains how Link got to Termina and also how the portal thing functioned. So far so good. But none of that scratches the surface of the bigger problem: how Majora’s Mask could create a whole world in the first place. How possible is it? Let’s take a look at what tools exist in the land of Hyrule that would have the power to create such a world as Termina.

Termina’s Big Bang Theory

First, the Triforce. This is the one I have personally seen come up in Termina debates, and it is often claimed to be the only item in Hyrule that has the power to create a world. I call nonsense. We can rule it out right off the bat because, at the end of Ocarina of Time, we can assume that the Triforce is safe. Ganondorf would go on to be apprehended in the Child Timeline as a result of young Link warning young Zelda that her original plan of doesn’t work out so well. If Majora’s Mask takes place in the next three days or so, it is highly unlikely that the Triforce was stolen by whoever and used to create Termina in that span of time.

Midna’s Fused Shadow stores a lot of power. It might be able to create worlds, but it wasn’t used in forming Termina.

So if it’s not the Triforce, we have to start scouring for other possibilities. So as a second guess, let’s consider the Fused Shadow from Twilight Princess. If you have read my previous article, then you would be familiar with my claim that the Fused Shadow played an integral role in the Hylian Civil War before the events of Ocarina of Time. Also, it is important to note that the Hyrule Encyclopedia confirms that the Interlopers were banished before Ocarina of Time. So the Fused Shadow definitely exists during the span of time where Majora’s Mask takes place, but the both it and the Interlopers are a little too busy being banished in the Twilight Realm to be creating worlds.

So without those to consider, let’s look at the argument in favor of Majora’s Mask itself creating the land of Termina.

We don’t really know who created Majora’s Mask, but we do know that it was used for bewitching rituals, had wicked power so great that it was sealed away to prevent a catastrophe, and that it does have striking visual similarities to the Fused Shadow. So it is possible, if not likely, that the same Interlopers that created the Fused Shadow created the mask. It is also said that it was created by a “dark tribe,” a description similar to that of the Interlopers. So going off of the assumption that it has origin and power similar to that of the Fused Shadow, it is more than strong enough to create and alter realities. Don’t believe it? Look at what Midna said when she popped Zant like an overinflated balloon: “I…I used just a fraction of the power that’s in me now…I did THAT using only a fraction of my ancestors’ magic?!” This quote leaves the limit of the Fused Shadow’s power up to our imaginations. But if Midna could eviscerate Zant with a fraction of her full power, I’m sure that the dark magic inside Majora’s Mask was more than capable of fabricating a reality where it was a nightmare for everybody but him.

But what about Termina says that the Skull Kid made that land? Well, actually there are a lot of things. We know from Tatl that Skull Kid befriended the four giants; whether or not these giants existed in Hyrule is unknown, but I think it is safe to say that in Skull Kid’s fabricated reality, they are representations of his real life friends. As for the story of Skull Kid, we learn from Tatl that his friends got sick of his antics and needed a break from the imp. We know this is true because Tatl was with the Skull Kid before entering Termina.

Also, the game heavily relies on stories of loss and misunderstanding. Anju thinks Kafei abandoned her, the Deku King thinks the monkey kidnapped her daughter, the Goron Elder was frozen and unable to be with his son, Darmani dies, Mikau dies, Lulu’s loss of her eggs, Pamela is incapable of aiding her father from becoming a zombie, and the kingdom of Ikana falling to tatters. I propose that Skull Kid created a reality where everyone in some way, shape, or form, was feeling what he was truly feeling under the mask: loss and misunderstanding.

So to bring it all together, this is why I support Nintendo’s claim that Termina is a reality fabricated by Skull Kid, created by using the immense dark magic power inside of Majora’s Mask. Link was taken to Termina by a well-hidden portal and ultimately ended up fighting his way through the temporary world, easing the woes of the Termanians and Skull Kid, and sealing the darkness back into Majora’s Mask. Even if the world was a temporary illusion, Link’s time and adventures in Termina were very real, and at long last we finally have a satisfying answer to the mystery of Termina.

Luke Oprondek
Hometown: Chicago, IL Favorite Zelda game: Majora's Mask (and there's no close second.) Favorite thing about Zelda: The music! Currently saving Hyrule from the Calamity Ganon.
  • Darkstar

    This is a lot like Link’s Awakening and Phantom Hourglass: it was all a nightmare. But it makes sense that Skull kid created this world base don his feelings at the time, and how he wanted everyone to literally feel his pain. That’s quite dark, Nintendo.

  • Aleksander Schou

    So the clip early in the game where you see skull kid is playing with Tatl and tael in Termina before he got Majora’s mask is just a dream or something? How can he fabricate a reality or whatever if the source of the fabrication is not even in the hands of Skull kid.

    But if it hadn’t been for that event? I’d totally go for your hypothesis.

    • Vladislak

      Agreed. There are certain things that imply Termina existed before Skull Kid ever got Majora’s Mask. Tatl and Tael are residents of Termina and Tatl has extensive knowledge of Termina’s history, but both of them are seen with Skull Kid WHILE he robs the Happy Mask Salesman. If Tatl and Tael came from Termina then they literally couldn’t have been with Skull Kid before or during the event where he robbed the Happy Mask Salesman.

      I’d like to point out that the new book isn’t actually written by Nintendo, it’s written by a Nintendo centric magazine. Contrast this with Hyrule Historia, which had Aonuma himself as supervising editor. My understanding is that Hyrule Encyclopedia also includes a section with them stating they took creative liberties with the lore, which to me throws everything in the book into question as far as canon is concerned.

      There are other issues too, like the claim that the Kokiri were once just regular Hylians that wandered into the woods and turned into Kokiri. A Kokiri in OoT says the Deku Tree created the Kokiri:

      “What? You’ve been called by the Great Deku Tree? What an honor. He may give you a special gift! Tee hee! That’s because the Great Deku Tree is our father, the forest guardian, and he gave life to all of us Kokiri!”

      Some may say it was just the Deku tree transforming them into Kokiri, but then saying the Deku tree is their father and that he literally gave life to them would be a stretch.

      I have issues with some of the other claims they make, but that’s another topic for another time. For the time being I’m going to take Hyrule Encyclopedia with a grain of salt.

      • Krystel Beaulieu-Thibault

        Yeah their new explanation for Termina doesn’t make sense at all. It has to be a parallel or else a lot of things just don’t make sense, like how Skull kid met the two fairies before having the mask and all the history of Termina

      • Distian

        We did see that the skull kid was in Termina but at the same time the majoras mask was calling out to the Skull kid which would me the Majoras mask it self made this world at first and then the rest of the problems in termina were caused by the skull kid while wearing the majoras mask. This does make sense that you would get confused that we seen skull kid in Termina but it was created for the skull kid so he could become a puppet of the majoras mask so he can destroy the world. Thats how I see it.

    • OTOH, the part of Termina that’s in that flashback also looks a lot like the Lost Woods…

  • GamerFromJump

    Then why are there locations in BotW named after MM characters (Lulu, Mikau)?

    • Kent

      For the same reason why someone in Hyrule shares the same name as someone in Termina. Those locations are probably just named after their MM counterpart.

  • Oma Desala

    Nope. All wrong. Happy Mask Salesman, Ganondorf, Skullkid, and others have traveled between the two realms or worlds. Termina is a world not governed by the rules of the Goddesses.

    Sorry, but this article is poor fan theory. Interesting sure, but it’s not an explanation. It’s overthought.

    Termina is connected to Hyrule through a portal or even wormhole, similar to how the Lost Woods are connected to Zora’s Domain and Goron City.

    In the real world, you can meet a stranger who is almost your identical twin. In our vast universe, it would be impossible to not find another almost perfect match.

    Hyrule is just on one planet. How big it is, we do not know. If the planet is Hyrule, that’s pretty small.

    Termina however is just another and possibly another world, if you look at various official Nintendo art. The Zelda Symphony Majora’s Nask poster, official artwork, shows Termina as a planet. You see the globe.

    There is a Wind Waker poster showing one hemisphere which means that Hyrule is likely not the only major landmass. In every LoZ game based in hyrule, you see there is more land but you can’t go that far.

    BotW is an example that takes https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/60e9b538615d3f8cae2d5828fb1f9cc361faaf0544ef1ab18ed2f1018600f1ea.jpg place over 10,000 years after Wind waker. The world is huge and the people and creatures that were born because of the changes to Hyrule (great flood) still exist in BotW.

  • spacefan1993

    I can disprove this theory with three words: Happy Mask Salesman.

    We saw in cutscenes how the HMS was robbed of Majora’s Mask (in Termina, no less), and how the Skull Kid was able to travel through both worlds; as such, the HMS was able to do so before being robbed. As such, Termina existed well before the Skull Kid got his hands on the mask.

    • Mephisto21

      I actually think the HMS was robbed in Hyrule probably lost woods area. Regardless even Skull Kid came from Hyrule as well. Termina existed way before he got the mask.

  • Pixenoides

    There is one truth to all this, the majora’s mask IS capable of creating realities (just, it did not create Termina). Awesome theory, btw. when the moon swallows the mask, it is able to create another world inside itself, housing other worlds (the minidungeons and the last room with the mask itself. so whoever thinks that only the triforce can create alternate realities is just wrong.

  • Martín Alberto Morales López

    So, Termina is basically as a Koholint Island 2.0

  • Mephisto21

    A big fan of MM. So my two cents. One Skull Kid, Happy Mask Salesman, and Majora’s Mask are all from Hyrule. During the ending skull kid mentions Link smells like someone he met aka oricana of time. Ergo Termina was not created by the mask; it already existed. Now granted the mask could of made an entire world if it wanted too. We just know too little of its origins. Two if anything Termina could be a part of Lorule from LOZ A link between Worlds An Excellent game btw. It is sure as heck not a hero of time’s fever dream.

  • Azurai

    I really resent this retcon. It makes the entire point of the game, helping the people of Termina with their individual problems, completely pointless. Plus it makes no sense given that we are shown Termina before Majora’s Mask is obtained by the Skull Kid.

    • Linebyline

      Agreed. As much as the plot holes bug me (most notably, Skull Kid, Tat’l, and Tael clearly existing in Termina before Skull Kid got the mask), having the whole thing be little more than a dream world does undermine one of the game’s major themes.

      I suppose a counterpoint would be that Link’s Awakening also made a point of Link helping people with their problems, even though it was explicitly a dream (uh, oops, spoilers). Of course, that’s why I didn’t like that part of LA’s story, but then again it could just as easily be a component of MM’s story that I also don’t like.

      • Vladislak

        I agree that it undermines MM’s story completely, you saved tons of people and got them a happy ending. This “retcon” absolutely messes that up.

        I do disagree about Link’s Awakening though, its tragic ending is a part of it’s appeal, the game built up to it wonderfully and let Link himself wonder about the truth, providing an interesting moral dilemma; is it right to save yourself if it means destroying an island full of people?

        But MM had no indication that Termina would be destroyed at all, so it’s more of a sucker punch to the fans if you suddenly say it is destroyed. Link’s Awakening respected the players intelligence, Hyrule Encyclopedia’s explanation doesn’t.

  • Mark Cochrane

    I believed that Termina was a creation of the mask before HE came out, but this explanation is incomplete. If you head over to the forums, you’ll find fuller explanations that also deal with the counterarguments seen in the comments here.

  • Will

    The Historia describes Termina as a “parallel world,” not as a fabrication by Majora’s Mask. The Faced Moon, however, was indeed an image created by Majora.

  • Kai Jenson

    So the Mask is sorta like the Nightmares in Link’s Awakening? That makes a lot of sense. (no sarcasm at all)

  • A really interesting theory which places Majora’s Mask closer to Link’s Awakening than any other Zelda game. That would explain the game world’s obsession with masks. As for the appearance of Hyrule’s residents in Termina, could Link’s consciousness affect the world created by Majora’s Mask or could’ve Skull Kid actually met those people before he became a Skull Kid? Navi suggest at some point in OoT that when non-hairy children get lost in the Lost Woods, they become a Skull Kid, unlike adults who become Stalfos.

    Also, don’t forget the moon. When you land on it, it looks nothing like the moon you see hurling (rather slowly) towards Clock Town. Another world creation? An insight into Skull Kid’s psyche?

    Some commenters said that this devalues the problems of people and healing done by Link throughout Majora’s Mask. I wouldn’t agree simply because that would mean the same for all the dream characters of Link’s Awakening.

    As for the cutscene when going south of Clock Town for the first time where Skull Kid and faeries are hiding from the rain – who’s to say that Happy Mask Salesman didn’t already visit Termina before, and Skull Kid followed him into the portal at one occasion, learning how to enter and leave the realm whenever he pleases?

    Another interesting bit is that Majora’s Mask is (to my knowledge) the only Zelda game aside from Link’s Awakening where The Ballad of The Wind Fish is mentioned.