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The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Fan Theories That Completely Change The Game

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" is the latest and greatest installment of Nintendo's classic fantasy series. The game is packed with new mechanics that make it one of the most engaging experiences you can play on the Switch, but what has "Zelda" fans most excited is the story. Heading into "Tears of the Kingdom," there were plenty of theories we couldn't wait to investigate, but even though the game provided some answers, it also opened up brand new questions.

The game is heavy on lore, which makes it a real treat for people who've been digging into the "Zelda" franchise for years. Some of the best secrets in "Tears of the Kingdom" have ties to story details, but seemingly every new discovery comes with a follow-up mystery. Piecing together all the hints buried in the game makes for a fantastic time, and even though there are things only adults will notice in their playthroughs, "Zelda" offers equal opportunity theorizing. The past and future of "Zelda" — as well as the truth of extraterrestrial life — are all up for debate, so let's dive into the "Tears of the Kingdom" fan theories that could completely change the game.

The Zonai are aliens

The Zonai are at the heart of everything new that "Tears of the Kingdom" brings to the table. In Link's time, however, the Zonai have been dead for countless thousands of years, so we actually know very little about them.

The first thing the game teaches us about the Zonai is that long ago they descended from the heavens. We don't know if they built cities up there, but we do know that the Zonai constructed all kinds of machines and advanced technology. We also know that a Zonai named Rauru married a surface woman named Sonia, and together they founded the kingdom of Hyrule.

There's a fan theory floating around that the Zonai may actually be a race of aliens. That might sound ridiculous at first, but there's some precedent for aliens being a part of the Zelda franchise. In "Majora's Mask," players are tasked with defending a farm from creatures simply called "Them" that have all the hallmarks of classic extraterrestrials. The Zonai don't look quite like Them, but they have technology that really does seem out of this world, and they literally came down from the sky to take over the land of Hyrule. The alien-like creatures in "Majora's Mask" were extra-aggressive, and this theory posits that the Zonai may have actually been conquerors when they first came to Hyrule. Rauru may have been a benevolent leader, but maybe his ancestors weren't so kind.

Legends of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Theory: The Dark Truth about The Zonai
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Zelda's story takes place just after Skyward Sword

"The Legend of Zelda" fans can't help but be concerned with timelines. Even though almost every "Zelda" game introduces a brand new version of Hyrule populated by a new cast of characters, fans are obsessed with figuring out how all the games relate to each other. Nintendo has released an official timeline linking all the games, but since "Breath of the Wild" and "Tears of the Kingdom" arrived after that timeline was released, there's plenty of room left for theorizing.

The latest two games take place at the furthest point in Hyrule's history, but Zelda gets to travel back to the distant past in "Tears of the Kingdom." What's strange is that she ends up in a time period that we haven't seen in any other game — but the mystery might not be all that hard to figure out. Some fans think that they know how the time travel in "Tears of the Kingdom" connects this game to the rest of the franchise's history.

The theory here is that Zelda travels to a point in time directly between "Skyward Sword" and "The Minish Cap." Those two games take place at the earliest points in the official timeline, and "Skyward Sword" in particular explains how the surface of Hyrule first became safe to occupy. According to the theory, Rauru and Sonia then descended from Skyloft and became the first people fully invested in setting up life on the surface. Zelda meets them just as Hyrule is facing its first serious threat, but long before the events of the rest of the series threaten the kingdom over and over again.

Tears of the Kingdom Theory
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Ganondorf is a time traveler

"Tears of the Kingdom" is one of the most lore-heavy "Zelda" stories to date, delving deep into Hyrule's history and showing us the kingdom's earliest days. For some "Zelda" fans, that's actually one of the most frustrating parts of the game.

In many ways, "Tears of the Kingdom" completely contradicts the established "Zelda" lore, and one of the biggest contradictions has to do with the game's main antagonist. "Ocarina of Time" supposedly showed us the first time that Ganondorf encountered the kingdom of Hyrule. The "Zelda" timeline splits after that game, but "A Link to the Past," "Wind Waker," and "Twilight Princess" all show various versions of his death.

Assuming the lore established in those previous games is true, how was Ganondorf around to battle Rauru, and why is he still alive in "Tears of the Kingdom?" Some fans have theorized that this is evidence of another timeline split. Maybe after the events of "Ocarina of Time," a version of Ganondorf discovered how to harness the power of time travel. He went all the way back to Hyrule's founding to have the opportunity to conquer the kingdom and completely shape it for his own purposes. That would make the convoluted "Zelda" timeline even more difficult to follow, but it might also fix the apparent inconsistencies introduced in "Tears of the Kingdom."

[TOTK] My Ganondorf Theory
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Tears of the Kingdom actually retcons Skyward Sword

It's time to address the most glaring contradiction between "Tears of the Kingdom" and the previously established "Zelda" lore. According to Nintendo, 2011's "Skyward Sword" takes place at the earliest point in the "Zelda" timeline that fans have seen. The game's characters live on the floating island of Skyloft. The plot tells the story of how the very first Link and Zelda saved the kingdom from a demon called Demise by forging the Master Sword. By defeating Demise, they also opened up the land below to all of the inhabitants of Skyloft, leading to the creation of Hyrule.

As mentioned previously, "Tears of the Kingdom" tells a different story about Hyrule's early days, in which the Zonai came to the surface and Hyrule was founded by Sonia and Rauru. There are plenty of ways to explain the differences in these two stories. With some complex theorizing and creative timeline maps, some fans can definitely figure out a way to make the two games fit in with each other. 

That said, some fans prefer a more straightforward answer, preferring to think of "Tears of the Kingdom" is a full retcon of "Skyward Sword." It might seem unlikely, considering both games had the same director and producer creating them, but Nintendo has made wilder decisions in the past.


Putting the Legend in Legend of Zelda

Similar to the retcon theory, some fans believe that Ganondorf in "Tears of the Kingdom" and Demise in "Skyward Sword" are actually the very same being. That might seem confusing at first, considering that the two games apparently take place tens of thousands of years apart, but it all starts to make sense with some careful interpreting.

In "Skyward Sword," Demise is described as a Demon Lord who ravaged the land long ago. Things got so bad that the goddess Hylia sent her beloved creations up into the sky to protect them, then sealed Demise away and reincarnated so she'd always be around in some form, to help when he returned. When he does come back, Link and Hylia's reincarnation — Zelda herself — beat him back with the Master Sword.

This theory latches onto the word "Legend" in "The Legend of Zelda" and says that "Tears of the Kingdom" is essentially a retelling of the same story. Ganondorf is called the Demon King, and he attacked Hyrule until Rauru managed to seal him away thousands of years in the past. Zelda herself became an immortal dragon, so that countless millennia later Link would have access to the Master Sword to defeat Ganondorf once and for all. Once you notice the similarities between the two stories, they become almost impossible to ignore.

[ToTK] Ganondorf IS Demise. (Thoery)
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The two newest Zelda games are a new timeline altogether

If you can't already tell, the "Zelda" timeline has never been clear. For most of the series' history, there wasn't a set timeline at all. Fans were left to put the pieces together themselves, and aside from the rare direct sequel, most of the games didn't connect with each other in any real way. When Nintendo made the franchise's timeline official, it cleverly left room for fans to continue theorizing about how "Breath of the Wild" fit into the larger picture, and "Tears of the Kingdom" has added a whole new world of possibilities.

We've already talked about how some fans think that "Tears of the Kingdom" is a retcon and how others think that the series' built-in time travel shenanigans can solve most of this game's apparent timeline problems. There's another popular theory that cleanly explains why the two most recent games seem, in some ways, out of place with all the lore that's come before.

What if "Breath of the Wild" and "Tears of the Kingdom" aren't really part of any of the aforementioned timelines? These two games could be set in an alternate universe with a history that's separate from (but parallel to) the main series. This simple solution more-or-less answers all the timeline questions that "Tears of the Kingdom" has raised. On the other hand, before the official timeline was released, you could have said almost any "Zelda" game was in an alternate reality from the others, so maybe Nintendo will come out with its own surprise solution in the future.

[ToTK] [Spoilers] Theory triptych (timeline, what that means, Zelda's powers)
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Tears of the Kingdom isn't a direct sequel

In "Tears of the Kingdom," Hyrule has suffered from an event called the Upheaval that reshaped the land, bringing islands down out of the sky and opening up huge chasms that lead to the Depths below the kingdom. There are some differences, though, that seemingly can't be explained by the Upheaval.

One theory about the game takes a close look at all these geographical differences. The Divine Beasts and all Sheikah technology are gone without any mention from the other characters. The previous Shrines have all vanished. Link is seemingly missing all the runes and wild powers he obtained in the previous game, even in the opening scene when he's traveling with Zelda beneath Hyrule Castle. There are many more small differences, too, and it's hard to wave them away as Nintendo just being creative with a new game.

"Tears of the Kingdom" may not actually be a direct sequel to "Breath of the Wild," according to one theory. It might take place in an alternate version of the previous game's Hyrule. This theory goes so far as to say that the Depths in "Tears of the Kingdom" may be the original Hyrule suffering from this inversion. The Depths are a direct reflection of the map above them, after all. There's more to work out here, but the idea of alternate realities and reflections between the two most recent "Zelda" games makes for some of the most exciting theorizing yet.

[TotK] Theory: Tears of the Kingdom is Breath of the Wild's alternate/opposite/parallel world.
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Demise's return to power has been set up

Let's return one more time to the events of "Skyward Sword." Demise's ultimate goal is to claim the Triforce for himself, so he can become all-powerful. At the end of that game, he's sealed within the Master Sword — but before he goes, he lays down a curse that will see Link, Zelda, and himself forever reincarnated and forced to battle over and over again.

One fan theory says that the return of the true Demon King is right around the corner. According to the theory, Ganondorf is only the physical manifestation of Demise, whose spirit is still trapped within the Master Sword. Over many thousands of years, the Triforce became less important to the people of Hyrule, and in "Breath of the Wild," Demise saw an opportunity to enact a new plan.

Demise spoke to Zelda through the Master Sword, helping herto  save Link and Hyrule itself. He knew that Ganondorf would continue to grow in power until he could destroy the Master Sword, which he does at the beginning of "Tears of the Kingdom." Demise wanted to make sure that Link was still alive to defeat Ganondorf, because now, with his spirit freed from the sword and Ganondorf slain, Demise can fully resurrect himself. If this theory holds true, then the battle for Hyrule is only just beginning.

[TOTK] A Theory of Mine relating Demise and TotK (Spoilers for Skyward, BotW, and TotK)
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The dragons are really all people

"Tears of the Kingdom" is full of twists and turns, but Zelda's fate might be the most shocking surprise that the game has to offer. After being transported to the past, Zelda eventually swallows a Secret Stone and becomes an immortal dragon. She loses her personality in the process, but she also gets to restore the Master Sword and return it to Link.

Considering that we see Zelda become a dragon, it's only natural to wonder if the game's other dragons have similar origins. Fans are already hard at work theorizing how the rest of Hyrule's dragons might have come into existence. It's possible that some Zonai swallowed Secret Stones long before Rauru's time, which could explain how Mineru knew about the process of dragonification in the first place.

On the other hand, some believe that the dragons may have ties to the three goddesses of "Zelda" lore. Maybe the goddesses reincarnated as dragons, so they could watch over the kingdom of Hyrule (of which they haven't been doing a great job). It could also be that the goddesses became Hylians or Zonai, and then they swallowed Secret Stones and became dragons. The game doesn't clarify if this process is the only way for dragons to exist, so we're left to wonder.

[TotK] I have a theory about the three dragons ( MAJOR STORY SPOILERS AHEAD)
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What really happened to the Divine Beasts

Anyone who played "Breath of the Wild" is bound to notice that some big elements from that game are missing in the Hyrule of "Tears of the Kingdom," the largest omission of all being the Divine Beasts. These were the most elaborate pieces of technology in Hyrule, and they played a key role in both the kingdom's fall and its eventual turnaround.

So, what happened to the Divine Beasts? There are two main theories circulating at the moment. The first is that when the Upheaval struck Hyrule, it simply destroyed or carried off the Divine Beasts. This theory isn't all that satisfying, though.

The other popular theory about the Beasts is that they were disassembled by the Hylians between the two games. Zelda would naturally have wanted to study the technology that made the Beasts work, and the rest of Hyrule's citizens might have deemed the Beasts too dangerous to keep around. After all, they were controlled by Calamity Ganon once, so who's to say they couldn't become a threat once again? 

Ultimately ,neither theory answers why not a single person talks about the Beasts in "Tears of the Kingdom" — but mysteries like these help make "The Legend of Zelda" more fun, right?