Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Dragon Theory Explains a Sky Island Mystery
Dragons are more important than you think.
The Legend of Zelda series has always been about cycles — how Link’s adventures become tales that eventually fade into legends that go on to repeat across millennia. And there’s at least one fan theory about the upcoming Tears of the Kingdom that finally provides some context about an enduring Breath of the Wild mystery while also tying the upcoming game back to Skyward Sword.
Where do the spirit dragons in Breath of the Wild go when they leave Hyrule through a portal in the sky? They may be more central to the ongoing story than we previously thought, and they may have ties to Skyloft and the Zonai tribe.
After one gamer posted to the Breath of the Wild subreddit recently, asking about the spirit dragon Farosh, others began speculating about the nature of these beings. In the game, Link alone can see three distinct spirit dragons that fly through the Hyrulian skies at fixed times and places. While Link can attack them and claim pieces of them for crafting purposes, they cannot be defeated and always leave through a portal in the sky or water. Where do they go?
“I hope we learn more about them in [Tears of the Kingdom],” one redditor said. “I like to think those portals they appear and disappear through in [Breath of the Wild] are bringing them back and forth between Hyrule and the Sky Islands.”
Some in the thread speculate that they travel through time when they open up a portal, perhaps even through time loops of some kind. Gamers have been speculating for years that these portals lead to Skyloft, which is part of the sky island network from Skyward Sword.
In the opening scene of that game, our narrator Fi recounts a legend in which the Goddess Hylia created the Sky Islands to protect the humans under assault from the villain Demise and his demons:
“The Goddess gathered the surviving humans on an outcropping of earth and sent it skyward, beyond the reach of the demonic hordes,” Fi says. “Beyond even the clouds. With the humans safe, the goddess joined forces with the land dwellers and fought the evil forces, sealing them away.”
“Beyond even the clouds” is the important bit here, because Nintendo’s official Tears website confirms that “Link begins his journey on one of the many mysterious floating islands that have suddenly appeared in the skies high above Hyrule.” So they have “suddenly appeared” rather than “rose from the ground” and therefore probably come from someplace “beyond even the clouds.” It also notes that “new towns, dank caves, and mysterious gaping chasms springing up across the world.”
Previous Tears of the Kingdom trailers seem to imply that the many sky islands right up from the ground, especially because as shown in the E3 2021 teaser, after Link and Zelda disturb Ganondorf’s remains, his Malice lifts Hyrule Castle into the air.
What does all of this have to do with dragons?
During the 14-minute gameplay demonstration, Producer Eiji Aonuma notes “there are lots of ways to reach the Sky Islands” just as the camera pans to pause on a dragon wriggling through the sky in Tears of the Kingdom. As someone notes in a Reddit post calling this out, all three of the dragons in Breath of the Wild constantly generate updrafts that also replenish Link’s stamina. In theory, this means that in the sequel, you can follow a dragon’s entire flight path through the air and use it to get to some of these Sky Islands. So we’re meant to draw some sort of connection between the dragons and the Sky Islands — and also the Zonai.
In the Breath of the Wild lore book Creating a Champion, it’s noted that the Zonai were “thought to have worshipped a water dragon since the area has many rock carvings dedicated to such a being.” Notably, the stone structure surrounding the Spring of Courage depicts a large dragon. Oddly enough, the spirit dragon Farosh is a lightning dragon rather than a water dragon that spawns adjacent to the Faron region where the Zonai supposedly once lived. The blue dragon Naydra is associated with ice and spawns elsewhere.
One ancient Zonai statue on the Thundra Plateau (shown above) shows how the Zonai typically depict dragons, and even more important, it features seven swirls that may be associated with the titular Tears of the Kingdom. Some fans have theorized that the Tears are mystical Infinity Stone-esque gems of great magical power and Ganon wants to collect them all Thanos-style. So there seems to be some kind of connection between dragons, the Tears, the Zonai, and the Sky Islands.
The first official Tears of the Kingdom trailer from September 2022 also does something very interesting with the logo: At about the 1:05 mark, we see two dragon heads in the Zonai design materialize and form the circular ouroboros symbol where the two dragons seem to devour each other.
Perhaps those dragon portals truly did send them through time, and this is the very magic that saves Zelda when she falls down the underground cavern? It seems increasingly likely that the game will explore two timelines: One in the past in which Zelda meets the Goddess Hylia and the Zonai, eventually helping to seal Demise/Ganon using the titular Tears of the Kingdom, and one in the present where Link has to contend with Ganon’s resurrection and the arrival of all sorts of Sky Islands in Hyrule.
The real question is how these might connect, and the two-headed ouroboros dragon logo is likely a clue we should pay more attention to.