The Zelda series has been around for several decades and is one of the most popular franchises in gaming. It is almost impossible not to have at least know who Link is. Throughout Link’s multiple adventuresome things always appear: the master sword, Ganondorf, and fairies, but the most iconic Zelda image is the Triforce. Yet no one knows what this McGuffin actually does! But a new fan theory solves this problem and could mean big things for one of 2023’s most anticipated games — Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Power, Wisdom, and Courage — Since the original Legend of Zelda game was released in 1986, the Triforce has become the franchise’s symbol. In the game, however, the explanation behind the item has been nebulous at best. Redditor AnCapGamer seeks to uncover the true meaning of the Triforce in a recent theory.
First, the information we do have on the Triforce. As the name and design suggest, the Triforce is made up of three separate pieces. The three Triforce pieces are power, wisdom, and courage. Together they form the Triforce, which acts as a wish-granting machine.
The Reddit theory suggests that, much like Marvel’s infinity stones, each individual piece of the Triforce holds within it a singular cosmic or metaphysical power that when possessed by someone grants them power specific to the piece they hold. Power is what it sounds like, a source of strength in the form of magic. Ganon is the most famous wielder of the Triforce of Power, which he uses in multiple games to exert his will over Hyrule.
The Triforce of Wisdom has a more unclear power, but Midna in Twilight Princess holds the answer. Before getting the Triforce Midna is characterized as confused and naive, as opposed to her demeanor when in possession of the Triforce of Wisdom. She becomes calm and knowledgeable; she seems to have an understanding of her place in the world and in the narrative of the story. As if the Triforce has granted her... Wisdom.
Last is the Triforce of Courage. In the theory’s most out-there suggestion the secret to the Triforce of Courage lies in the player. Link is canonically a holder of the Triforce of Courage and as the player controlling Link that is how we see the world. In a metatextual understanding of the game, the Triforce of Courage gives Link (and the player by extension) the courage to tackle these environmental puzzles and dungeon bosses. This extends to the idea of being cool under pressure and time slowing down when dodging attacks in Breath of the Wild.
What this means for Tears of the Kingdom — The Triforce barely receives mention in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The game makes few references to the symbol beyond its brief appearance as the representation of Zelda’s sealing power. iInstead, there is a focus on the motif of the trinity. Tears of the Kingdom, which will be a sequel in some form, could flesh out the story of the other pieces of the Triforce in this version of Hyrule.
This leaves two possibilities. The world of Tears of the Kingdom (and Breath of the Wild) takes place at a time after the Triforce has been destroyed and lost in some way, with its powers now living only in the last holders (Zelda, Link, and Ganon). This would explain why the symbol of the Triforce can be seen when Zelda uses her power.
Another option is that this is a time before the formation of the Triforce. Breath of the Wild’s world contains references to the Triforce’s aspects in the three dragons who are tied to the springs of power, wisdom, and courage found in the game. This means that Tears of the Kingdom could see our hero seek to form the Triforce. Due to the cyclical nature of the Zelda franchise and Breath of the Wild’s place at the end of every branching timeline, this could mean Tears of the Kingdom acts as a sort of universal reboot of the franchise cycle.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom comes to Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023.