I'm sure that anyone who has played an instalment of the Legend of Zelda series must admire Link, the protagonist of the series. Whilst there are in fact numerous different versions of Link, with slightly altered personalities and art styles, those who have played will understand that every version of the young warrior is brave, noble and prepared to put his life on the line to save the current Kingdom under threat. Those who have followed the franchise will certainly hold the many forms of this hero with high regard. From Koholint Island to Termina to Hyrule, each incarnation of Link is highly respected and often loved...
...but should Link be feared as well? Once the evil is vanquished, the war is won and Link's job is complete, what would the hero do next? Does he slip quietly back into the simple life he had before his adventure began?
This is my third 'Weird Theory' to date. At first I questioned Mario's motives for rescuing Peach. Next, I intended to address what was really going on with Kratos. This time, I wish to introduce a slightly different theory about Link. This theory doesn't refer to something that has happened; but instead addresses something that could happen (and by all rights should have happened) in at least one of the many versions of the Legend of Zelda.
Short Version: Link should become emperor of the world.
Long Version: Whether you believe that each Zelda game is independent, or whether the games are connected, the Link in each case has yet to reach their full potential by each game finale. By the end, the hero has the skills, power and convictions to continue onto even greater things. By weighing up the evidence available it is easy to see that Link has the capability to become the most powerful creature in the Legend of Zelda universe. Whether he uses these powers for good or evil, I believe that Link could become the supreme overlord of whichever realms he wished to conquer. This domination could even spread to other worlds and realities. Link has the potential to become a god among men... and all should fear him.
1) Link's Super Power
Link learns very, very quickly. Faster than anyone should be able to process new information. No matter what the weapon or tool acquired, the Hyrulian hero can wield the object with near-immediate proficiency. Hand him a sword and shield and he will dutifully slice his way through wave after wave of monsters. It should take years of practice to master a bow but Link can rattle off arrow after arrow with without any tutelage. Think of all the different items and equipment that the various Links have used over the years – magic items; explosives; musical instruments; sail boats; steam trains – with only the smallest levels of training and practice.
This is one significant reason to be cautious of Link. He can comprehend anything in an instant, simply by being near the object or following a few seconds of training. That ability to absorb information would not diminish once each game reached its conclusion. In fact, once Link's 'job' is done, he could learn to do whatever he chose to put his mind to.
Give Link a sword and he'll swing it like a pro. Consider what would happen if Link wandered into the castle library and began to leaf through books on battle formations and war strategy, or state management. If Link got his hands on the Hyrulian equivalent of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the young warrior would instantly gain the mind of a warlord. Furthermore, if Link sort to learn how to harness the various forms of magic and sorcery present in each world, his own powers would develop dramatically. Link has the potential to become King of Hyrule simply by being given the role. And he could definitely become king...
2) He is meant to rule
Once each game fades and 'The End' screen appears, Link is ready to become the ruler of Hyrule, or whichever nation he has just saved. You could argue that Link is not of royal blood, but there's so much more to monarchy than that. Firstly, it's the most popular and powerful man in the nation that gets to be king. This hero has proven himself on both counts. It's never Zelda or the royal guard that saved the people from evil – it was Link. It would not be long after the game that treasonable talk would begin concerning who should really rule the land.
In the medieval world, the Kings, Tsars and Kaisers of the world had one common factor that ensured their power and continued support – the divine right of Kings. Simply put, no one questioned that one man should rule the world because that person had been chosen by the god or a higher power. It didn't matter if that king was mad, violent of just plain wrong; that man is meant to rule. Now if only there was someone in the Zelda universe that was chosen for greatness by a higher power... and it could be easily proven by, let's say, a mark on the back of their hand...
Furthermore, monarchies are meant to be ruled by men. Sexist to be sure, but it's a historically proven fact that the system is patriarchal. As I mentioned in my first weird theory, the traditional role of a princess is to marry a powerful and wealthy man who will 'help' her rule her nation. Until Princess Zelda is married off, she is ruling over and unstable monarchy. She would need to find someone with power, influence and a decent amount of rupees. Who else but Link?
So Link is a powerful entity, with the capacity to learn anything and a claim to any throne he desires. The only thing he's missing to make him truly powerful is an army...
3) All those monsters
By the end of each game, the truly evil presence has been defeated. Those dungeon bosses aren't coming back either. Despite this, the land is still infested with enemies. We've all seen this phenomenon: you walk into a dungeon room, murder all the monsters within and leave, only to discover new monsters occupying the space when you return. What's even stranger is that there is always the same number of bad guys replacing the ones you dealt with...
With Ganondorf (or other antagonist) dealt with, Link would have to turn his attention to sorting out this monster infestation. Here, he has two options: he could dedicate his time to attempting to wipe out the seemingly endless procession of Moblins, Octoroks and Lynels. Or he can bring them in line, show them who is boss, and tame the monsters. For many of these creatures, a simple show of force would be enough to prove that Link was someone they should follow; the rest would quickly learn who the new boss is.
4) His Dark Side
I realise that a possible counter argument here is that Link couldn't possibly take power, or want to raise an army of monsters, or rule the world because he's such a nice boy. The Triforce couldn't have possibly chosen someone with an even a shred of darkness in them to save the day. If you believe that, then you are fooling yourself; we've all seen Link's darker side.
Even though the Link in each case is still a young warrior, the signs of a more dangerous attitude are ever present. That Master Sword is meant to slay evil, yet Link can hardly resist the urge to swing at every patch of grass, shrub, signpost or pot that he passes. He can barely go ten seconds without causing property damage. Woe betide anyone who let's Link see a crack in the wall of their house, because he won't think twice to using bombs to blow a hole in that wall to see what's on the other side. And those poor chickens...
We should also take a moment to talk about Link's method of healing. That to me shows this hero is ready to travel down a darker path. You know what I'm talking about... I'm not the first person to question what he does with all those hearts. I would never go as far as to call Link a cannibal (certainly not to his face) but Link either consumes hearts or smooshes them onto his skin to absorb their power. He will even keep spare hearts in jars for later! That is, when he's not holding fairies hostage...
Like it or not, Link has a cruel nature under all that heroism. Whilst he may not be completely evil, he is certainly capable of making the cold, calculated decisions a true warrior-king needs to make.
5) Death will not hold him
We need to talk about Link's other power. Fast-learning every possible skill and ability is one thing, but what makes Link truly dangerous is his ability to rise from the dead.
Games can be very weird around death. Some death scenes can be brutal and violent, but moments later the game pretends that event never took place. Solid Snake falls to cries of "SNAKE? SNAAAAAKE?!" but then all characters involved carry on from the checkpoint without stopping to talk about what happened and with the death forgotten. In Prince of Persia the narration dictates that you didn't really just fall off that wall and die because he's remembering the story wrong. However, when Link dies in the Legend of Zelda series... we are asked if would like to continue and makes a point of remembering the death.
You might think I'm over-thinking this (which of course I am, or we wouldn't be dealing with another one of these Weird Theories...) but cast your mind back to the older forms of Zelda gaming. Remember the start screen? What details did you save file present you with? The name of 'your link', the number of hearts you had acquired and...what was that last detail...oh yes, the number of times Link has DIED SO FAR. Suddenly we realise just how dangerous each Link is. Powerful, popular, resourceful and literally unstoppable.
6) Nothing is out of his reach
With the tools and equipment at Links disposal, there are very few places he cannot go and enemies that he cannot defeat. Whether he is Hook-Shooting his way across canyons or turning into a painting to pass through gaps in walls or sailing across vast oceans, Link will find you and deal with you.
Yet his reach often extends much further. Whilst most of his possessions allow him to open up new routes or journey further than anyone else, other artefacts allow Link to travel to other times and other worlds. The Ocarina of Time and the Harp of Ages imbue Zelda with the ability to cross time. In Link Between Worlds, he has access to two different Kingdoms in different dimensions. The very confines of time and space are not enough to hold the several versions of Link.
This is where Link's power and dominion expands outwards. We already know that Hyrule is just one of many Kingdoms that Link can conquer, but imagine how much further he could spread. If one form of Link is capable of journeying through time and space, then the kingdoms he finds there are also his to command. Pushing the theory even further, what would happen if one Link crossed into the realm of another Link? Would one slay the other and take both kingdoms? Or would they join forces and seek out other worlds together?
Stretching the theory to its very limits, what might happen if the games in the Nintendo collection take place within the same universe? We often see references between the games and of course the fighting tournament they all take part in. If these worlds are connected, then they could fall within the borders of Link's future empire. I'll give you some time to envisage what might happen if the might of Emperor Link descended on the Mushroom Kingdom...
7) What else would he do?
Honestly, can you see Link's story going in any other direction. By the end of each game this hero is still young, yet he holds so much power, in so many forms. I defy anyone who suggests that he would spend his remaining time at the fishing pond or retiring to work on a farm. For me, Link will strive for greatness because that's what is left for him to do. All those weapons, all that skill and all of that potential should be used for something, especially since there are so many incarnations of Link at this point in time. If it has happened in one of these versions, maybe we just haven't found out yet.
Each Link has the potential for greatness, but do you agree that he would become the conqueror of worlds that I have suggested? Is there any reason why he wouldn't take the world as his own, and reach out to take other worlds if he can? Could all the lands within the Nintendo multiverse bow to his imperial majesty? Is it possible to over-think video games?
...don't answer that last one.