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Will ‘Tears of the Kingdom’ Be The Last Zelda Game? Answered

Key art for 'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom'

A thought has occurred to me in the past year that I have not wanted to vocalize. This thought popped into my head as we began to see more and more footage of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. But it felt like a cursed thought, so I have not wanted to say it out loud. I’ve only uttered it to my closest confidants in safe, empathetic spaces. So imagine my terror when I found out that not only were many other people having this same thought, but that said thought was so popular it began trending on search engines! Truly terrifying.

The thought that strikes such fear into our hearts? That Tears of the Kingdom seems to be the culmination of the Zelda franchise. It could be the final Zelda game.

I should say up front that Nintendo has not commented on this at all. There is no evidence from Nintendo that Zelda is over after Tears. And killing a popular franchise at (arguably) its peak seems unwise. Then again, Tears could make it so that ending Zelda here is artistically the right thing to do. It’s a vibe some of us are getting.

Why do people think TotK could be the last Zelda game?

Nintendo has not commented on what Tears of the Kingdom means for The Legend of Zelda as a whole. But the trailers are giving off a certain impression. Basically, this game is epic as hell. Which is exciting—but also, as a diehard Zelda fan, the ways in which it’s epic are a little nail-biting.

The reason Zelda fans are getting a “potential end of the series” vibe from Tears has to do with the Zelda timeline. Tears is a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, seemingly taking place a few years after the defeat of Calamity Ganon. And Breath of the Wild has been confirmed by Nintendo to stand at the very end of the Zelda timeline, which spans thousands of years. But the timeline breaks into three distinct branches. Conspicuously, Nintendo have not specified which of these branches BotW stands on. That’s led many fans to believe that BotW exists so far into the future, it reunites the three branches of the fissured timeline.

This placement already creates an opportunity to neatly cap the story of The Legend of Zelda as a whole. The fact that Breath of the Wild was proceeded in the Zelda release calendar by Skyward Sword, which marks the origin of the Zelda timeline, makes BotW‘s placement all the more conspicuous. What’s more, Tears of the Kingdom seems like it’s going to be incorporating a lot of lore from Skyward Sword. The exploration of sky islands are a key feature of the game. Skyloft—the central hub of civilization in Skyward Sword—is clearly visible in many shots we’ve seen so far.

Creating a circle

What’s more, time shenanigans seem to be afoot. Much like the Zelda in Skyward Sword, Breath of the Wild‘s Zelda seems like she’s been sent back thousands of years in time. And remember how a central part of BotW‘s lore is that, ten thousand years ago, a hero and the princess saved Hyrule from Ganon? Don’t you think the clothes of the hero and princess shown in that illustration look … similar to Link and Zelda’s outfits in Tears of the Kingdom? Don’t make me break out the red string and cork board, Nintendo!

Also, notice the game’s logo: two dragons consuming each other to form a circle. You can interpret it as a version of an ouroboros, which symbolizes repeating cycles or infinity. YouTuber Zeltik thinks the two dragons are Zelda and Hylia. His hypothesis is that Zelda will transform back into the goddess Hylia. As we learn in Skyward Sword, Hylia became human to protect the Triforce. This theory is fascinating and would further “loop” the series on itself.

All of this suggests a gigantic circle which could unify the entire Zelda series. Something which unites the timeline’s as-of-now end (Breath of the Wild / Tears of the Kingdom) to its beginning (Skyward Sword). And as an artistic statement, where the hell do you go after tying something up so neatly?

Plus, this is the first time Link, Zelda, and a humanoid Ganondorf have all been in the same game in seventeen years, since Twilight Princess. That’s a pretty huge sign that this game will be lore-heavy.

Hope for it not being the end

Even if Tears of the Kingdom unites the end of the Zelda timeline to its beginning, it’s a huge, sprawling timeline. There are plenty of holes you could fill in. I’d be super curious about a game which explores the Hyrulian civil war alluded to in the prologue of Ocarina of Time, for example. And depending on where / how Tears ends, there could be space after the game, too. It may be less that we’re entering the end of Zelda, and more that we’re entering a new era.

Again, all of this is purely speculation. Nintendo hasn’t said a word. So I deeply hope all of our hunches are mistaken.

(Featured image: Nintendo)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.