Final page — enter the SPECULATION ZONE:

Speculation Zone

Sage Thyme!

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

Er, we mean Sage Time. As in, time to find out about the Sages — the Ancient ones. The OGs. If those seven shapes around the Owl Lad represent the seven sages, and two of them are Zelda and the Owl Lad himself, then we may get to learn about the other five. We actually don't know any of them except Rauru! How crazy is that?

So, if Rauru (the Owl Lad) is one of them, and Zelda is the other... then there are another five Ancient Sages to learn about. Perhaps they're the equivalent of the Four Guardians in Breath of the Wild, and Link has to find them all to tell them to do their Sagey job.

What do the sages actually do? Well, in Twilight Princess, they're credited with making the Master Sword, and in Ocarina of Time, they're credited with building the Temple of Time "to protect the entrance to the Sacred Realm", where the Triforce is kept. Imagine if TOTK concerns these two events...

Time Travel

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
How are they gonna stop us from flying all the way over there? — Image: Nintendo

Four Zelda games have involved time travel — Ocarina, Majora, Skyward Sword, and Oracle of Ages. Plenty more have involved multiple dimensions or places, including A Link to the Past, A Link Between Worlds, Minish Cap, The Wind Waker, Skyward Sword, and Twilight Princess. It's not out of the question that Tears of the Kingdom has something similar.

We're thinking that the game takes place in two eras — after BOTW, and before Skyward Sword. This would mean that long-haired yucky arm Link is one of the very first Links, maybe before the legends even began... or, as we've theorised before, he's actually Ganon pre-heel-turn. We also think that Hyrule being broken up into islands leads into the start of Skyward Sword.

Or maybe...

Time Loop

This is looking a lot more likely, if you ask us. Perhaps this game is set after BOTW... and before Skyward Sword... at the same time.

Imagine being trapped in this terrible loop, where evil always returns, the hero always vanquishes it, only for evil to return once more. That's already the Zelda timeline we know and love. But when the Hyrule of BOTW becomes the Skyloft of Skyward Sword, only to eventually become the Hyrule of BOTW once more... Isn't that a beautiful tragedy?

Plus, a time loop would fit nicely with the...

Ouroboros

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

The title logo itself is an ouroboros — the snake eating its own tail — albeit an ouroboros with two snakey lads eating each other rather than the traditional one snakey lad eating himself.

And what does an ouroboros represent?

The eternal cycle of destruction and rebirth.

Oh, and who remembers Demise's curse upon the land in Skyward Sword? No one? Okay, here it is:

"My hate...never perishes. It is born anew in a cycle with no end! I will rise again! Those who share the blood of the goddess and the spirit of the hero... They are eternally bound to this curse. An incarnation of my hatred shall ever follow your kind, dooming them to wander a blood-soaked sea of darkness for all time!"

Our money is entirely on the Zelda timeline being a time loop, now.

The Twili

We've seen plenty of pretty convincing theories about the Twili appearing in Tears of the Kingdom somehow. The Twili are the race of shadow people who live in the Twilight Realm in Twilight Princess, most notably the Princess Midna. Their iconography is teal geometric shapes, which... haven't we seen that recently? OH YES:

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

It seems pretty likely that the Twili are somehow involved, which would further tie into our time loop theory, because Twilight Princess is at the very end of the timeline... but before Breath of the Wild.

We have something more, too — and because this is the Speculation Zone, it's about to get tenuous.

Remember the magatama-shaped things in the trailer? In Skyward Sword, they were called "Dusk Relics". BOTW has a similarly named quest, actually: "Twilight Relic". What's the quest about? Finding Midna's Helmet.

You see, the Twili are descended from Hylian sorcerers, who attempted to steal the Triforce and were banished by the goddesses to the Twilight Realm. Their magic is represented by the Fused Shadows, one of which is used by Midna as a helmet.

Check this out:

...Yeah, like we said, it's a bit of a reach. You're in the Speculation Zone now, baby!

The Picori

This one isn't wholly convincing, but the Owl Lad from the beginning of the trailer has gigantic pointy ears, a bit like... the tiny Minish/Picori race from Minish Cap.

The Minish Cap, which concerns the creation of the Four Sword and the sealing of the demon Vaati, happens just after Skyward Sword in the Timeline, but we don't know much about how the Picori tie into the rest of the story, except for Link's iconic green cap being an important part of the game. Also, the cap is a bird. And there are birds in lots of the other games. And that bird-cap is a man named Ezlo, who's also a sage, actually. Hmmmm... maybe this theory is more relevant than we thought?

Apparently, BOTW originally featured tiny people, as you can see in this video. Could this theory be why...?

The Zonai

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

If you talk to people in the know about Zelda: BOTW theories, it's all Zonai this, Zonai that. They were a prehistoric tribe who lived in Hyrule long, loooooong ago, whose existence is only marked by the ruins they left behind, and the Barbarian Armor Set, given to the Hero by the Monks found in the three Labyrinths in Breath of the Wild. They are described as "warlike", which gives some hints as to their disappearance, and were thought to "worship a water dragon", hence all the dragon carvings.

Their symbols — a spiral crest and the many Aztec-like, dragon-shaped monuments seen around their ruins — feature prominently in the trailers for Tears of the Kingdom, specifically the caves which Link and Zelda are exploring, the pillars, the fire-breathing dragon head that Link uses, and now... the logo itself, the ouroboros. WHAT DOES IT MEAN!

Fear not, we have theories. The Zonai could be an ancient race who buried evil long, long ago — hence Ganon (we think) appearing in the caves, sealed by an arm (with notable Zonai-like tattoos on it). But... we could also get to see them in the flesh, as potentially the first people to ever seal away Ganon/Demise/evil.

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

They could also be a race... from the future. Or present. If our time loop theory is correct, then that would perhaps mean that the Zonai happen pre-Skyward Sword, which is also... post-Breath of the Wild. The history of the Zonai is therefore the future of BOTW Link. Cool!!

Here's an interesting quote from the official book, "Creating a Champion" (emphasis ours):

"As we were in the process of creating the cities and people of every region of Hyrule, we thought that if we showed fragments of a civilization that collapsed long ago, it would make the world feel more real. That’s why we added Zonai relics throughout Hyrule.

The ruins are primarily animal themed, but with the history of the Triforce from an ancient perspective in mind. The designs are symbolic—using dragons (courage), owls (wisdom), and boars (power)."

Dragons represent courage. Link represents courage.
Owls represent wisdom. Zelda (and her owl-like father) represent wisdom.
Boars represent power. Ganon — who is a pig about 50% of the time — represents power.

We know the boar/owl connection, but Link = Dragon is a new one, and potentially one that we'll see in Tears of the Kingdom... especially with the dragon theming in the logo.

I mean, come on. There's some really interesting stuff in there! We just don't know what it means!!!!

Below you'll find an entire stream of the lovely Alex-from-Nintendo-Life hunting for Zonai clues in Breath of the Wild:

Demise's Return

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

Right, so with the Skyward Sword stuff (islands raising, the Goddess Crest appearing, etc.) and the Master Sword stuff (it's melty), we're starting to wonder if Demise, the Big Bad of Skyward Sword, is somehow involved.

So, Demise is basically Ganon's predecessor, and the incarnation of evil who is said to have conquered time itself. Unsurprisingly, he wants the Triforce (who doesn't). In Skyward Sword, he owns a sword that is basically the exact opposite of the Master Sword — something we have not seen in Zelda games since. It is black and red, much like a lot of the evil imagery in Tears of the Kingdom.

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

As we said above, Demise curses the land and the heroes to be locked in an eternal battle for all time (hence we think it's a time loop). He may have also begun to infect Link, hence his blackened arm and his unfortunate melty Master Sword.

Could Demise be reborn in Tears of the Kingdom — thus setting off the events previous to Skyward Sword, in which the goddess Hylia (AKA Zelda) defeats him and separates Skyloft from Hyrule? Are the seven shapes seen in the trailer perhaps representations of Zelda, the five tribes (Gorons, Mogma, Kikwi, Ancient Robots, Parella) that fought in the battle against Demise, and... Link? Or the Rito? Or something else?????

Evolution

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
Image: Nintendo

Right, this is starting to get a bit complicated. Here's a little breakdown of how some of the races (may) have evolved over the years in Zelda:

Kokiri -> Koroks (who are also potentially related to the Kikwi)
Parella -> Zora -> Rito

And then there are the Sheikah and Hylians, two human tribes that co-exist, plus the Twili (descended from humans), the Oocca (maybe evolved from humans, or Rito, or the sacred dragons) and the Zonai (no idea). The Gorons seem to have moved in after the Mogma, and the Ancient Robots seem to have ceased to exist.

The Twili and the Zonai might also be related, since they both love rocks carved into spirals, weird ancient teal-coloured magic, and being all fighty. NO ONE KNOWS.

And hey, what if the Rito evolve... into normal birds? And those birds live on the floating islands? And one day they become known as Loftwings...?

Maybe we could be seeing some of this evolution, if we're getting time travel or a time loop...

Tears

Tears as in crying, because something sad has happened. Tears as in the islands being torn away from the ground. And, wait, tears as in... Tears of Light?

The Tears of Light appear in Twilight Princess, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword (as "Sacred Tears"). These are powerful objects, stored in a grapevine-looking thing (called the "Vessel of Light" or the "Spirit Vessel"), which can power up Link's Master Sword and dispel or delay evil. They are closely related to the golden goddesses — the manifestations of the three triangles of the Triforce.

It seems fairly likely that these "tears" will return in Tears of the Kingdom, because:

  1. They're magatama shaped
  2. Link has what looks like a vessel in the key art
  3. The Master Sword seems to be an important part of TOTK, so powering it up (or just... unmelting it) may be important

What a cool title, if that's true. It has three meanings! Sadness, destruction, and... tears!

Dead Monarchs

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer breakdown
RIP Zelda? — Image: Nintendo

We aren't the first to suggest this, but could Nintendo UK's decision not to stream the Direct (because of the death of Queen Elizabeth II) be to do with the title?

"Tears of the Kingdom" is bad enough on its own, but not that bad. Perhaps the trailer originally revealed more about the story... like... the death of a monarch. That monarch could be Zelda's father in BOTW, making her the Queen of Hyrule, or it could be Zelda herself (especially since we've seen her in peril in the trailers). The death of a monarch in the trailer would have been quite awkward timing, after all.

Mysteries

There are some tiny hints in this trailer... that we just don't have answers for.

Check out this direct comparison to BOTW, and note that tiny little green spiral at the bottom that's not there in the original:

https://twitter.com/NinBendo/status/1570048732904755201

Could this be related to the green spiral that we saw binding Ganon (maybe) in the caves? Is it an entrance? An entrance to... what?

Also, is this a dragon?

Dragon

Dragons. Birds. Green stuff. Tears. It'll all make sense... on May 12th, 2023. Hopefully.

Summary

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a game that bridges the gap between Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, turning the Zelda timeline into a time loop. This potentially includes the birth of Demise, the introduction of the goddess Hylia, the creation and/or splitting of the Master Sword (and Fi), and something to do with the three golden goddesses and the seven sages.

There will also be a whole lot of stuff to do with the Rito — the race of bird-people, descended from the Zora, including Link's own ability to fly around with his cool new glider.

In short: This game could be the absolute genesis of the Zelda myth, even more so than Skyward Sword was... as well as a fulfilment of Demise's curse to suffer the same fate for eternity, locked in an ever-repeating cycle of violence and defeat.


Alright, that's all the theorising and speculating we have time for... but tell us your thoughts, theories, and tinfoil-hattest ideas in the comments below — as well as your thoughts on our thoughts! Thoughtception! Like an ouroboros! Yeah!!

Further Reading: