Game Theory

Tears of the Kingdom Trailer May Reveal the Zelda Title's True Meaning

Eye-catching gems.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

As a subtitle, Ocarina of Time makes sense because Link uses the titular magical instrument to move through time, make it rain, and toot tunes to his heart’s content. Most Zelda games take a similar approach.

Yet Nintendo went a different route with 2017’s Breath of the Wild. The abstract subtitle sure is compelling, evoking the vague “breath of fresh air” that is the game’s “wild” approach to open-world game design. With the game’s sequel now less than a month away, Nintendo may have hinted in the final Tears of the Kingdom trailer exactly what the new title refers to. And it’s the furthest thing from abstract.

You’ve probably seen the Tears already. The only mystery is what Kingdom they refer to, but even that has limited candidates.

Several of the game’s trailers suggest two timelines at play: In one, Link looks similar to how he did in Breath of the Wild. In the other, Link has longer hair and more archaic garb. The April 13 trailer finally seems to show us what’s going on with Zelda during the new time period, and it seems like it’ll be in the distant past.

About two minutes in, Zelda is seen talking to a tall, regal figure that may be the king of the Zonai, the ancient magical tribe of barbarians only hinted at in ruins throughout Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule. Several context clues draw connections between Zonai architecture and the new Construct enemies in Tears of the Kingdom. In this scene, Zelda wears a glowing golden necklace. Later, we see her cradling the gem in her hands, and it’s shaped like a golden, curled tear with runes on it. In both scenes, she has a single tear on each cheek painted on.

“I know why I am here,” she says. “It’s something only I can do.” Does that mean only she can wield the Tear?

This is a Tear of the Kingdom, right?


In Zelda lore, the three Golden Goddesses (Din, Nayru, and Farore) created the world, its people, and later the Triforce. While the Triforce doesn’t really appear much in the Breath of the Wild era, the symbol does appear on Zelda’s hand when she uses her magic — also golden — to seal Ganon. That’s likely because long ago, the Golden Goddesses tasked the Goddess Hylia with protecting the Triforce. Among the many things that happened in Skyward Sword’s lore, Hylia shed her divinity and was eventually reincarnated as the first mortal Zelda. And it’s a tradition that every princess born to that royal lineage be named Zelda.

So to see one incarnation of Zelda holding a golden magic gem seems like a big deal, particularly with all of the blue-green magic we’ve seen in these recent games. What’s more is that the latest trailer also introduces yet another figure wielding at least one of these Tears, and it’s also golden:

Who is she?


Just after the three-minute mark in the new trailer, a female figure who’s decidedly not Zelda is seen wearing the same headband, necklace, and earrings as her depiction in Tears of the Kingdom. Whereas Zelda has two tears painted on her face, this woman has eight. Her hair is longer with more of a copper hue. Her skin is also darker, and her ears much larger. While many of the human-looking characters in the Zelda world do have pointed elf ears, this mysterious new figure has very long ears — longer than anybody in these two games, it would seem.

While levitating, this woman blasts a bunch of monsters in the desert with little effort using a ray of golden energy. Could this be the original goddess of Hylia herself, back during the battle against the Demon King Demise? It would explain why she looks similar to but different from our Zelda. It’s also possible, however, that this woman could be our first look at a Zonai. Legend regards them as barbarians who went extinct, but they’re also regarded as powerful magic-wielders. Maybe Zonai look similar to Hylians, but they have longer ears?

If you look closely, it also appears that Ganon has a red Tear in his forehead and Sidon, the Zora prince, has one in his hand. Tulin also has one as well, so it’s starting to seem like there will be up to seven tears in play. Perhaps Zelda inherits the golden one from this mysterious new character, and each controls a different element or magic type? The possibilities are endless.

A lot of Zelda symbolism comes in threes: The three Golden Goddess created the Triforce, which includes three triangles representing the Power, Wisdom, and Courage so often associated with Ganon, Zelda, and Link, respectively. But Tears of the Kingdom, however, seems like it may riff on the seven sages concept from the Ocarina of Time era.

So where’s Link’s Tear?

“It's dangerous to go alone!” Check out more of Inverse’s Tears of the Kingdom coverage:

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