The 5 most heartbreaking moments in The Legend of Zelda series

5 The Legend of Zelda heartbreaking moments

Earlier this year, I explored my most memorable moments from The Legend of Zelda series. Immediately after writing that piece, I wanted to do another one, as there were a lot of moments I didn’t include. Instead of rehashing the same angle, I’m going to explore the most heartbreaking moments from the Zelda series. There are a lot of situations in the franchise that really pull at those heart strings, and I’m ranking them to the best of my ability. If a particular moment hasn’t been included for some reason, the chances are I already covered it last time. Now it is time for me to go further down memory lane and attempt to not sob uncontrollably while writing this.

5. Pamela and her father

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)

Pamela's father Majoras Mask

Majora’s Mask has a lot of heartbreaking moments that could easily be its own Zelda list. There are a lot of sidequests in Termina, and a particular one features Ikana Canyon and a young girl named Pamela living there with her father. Pamela’s father is a scientist that specializes in paranormal activity and decided to move from Clock Town to study the creatures located in Ikana Canyon.

5 The Legend of Zelda heartbreaking moments Pamela cutscene Majora's Mask

After researching the Gibdos for quite some time, Pamela’s father was inflicted with a curse. He suddenly began to transform into a Gibdo himself, and Pamela decided to shield him from the dark spirits by locking themselves in the house. Link eventually arrives in Ikana Canyon and can sneak into Pamela’s house to investigate her strange behavior. Opening the closet reveals that Pamela’s father was locked inside, presenting Link with the opportunity to play the Song of Healing. Doing so will return him to his normal state, and Pamela embraces her father in an emotional scene. It’s a case where the heartbreak is eventually fixed a little.

4. The passing of the Great Deku Tree

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

5 The Legend of Zelda heartbreaking moments Great Deku Tree dies

As those familiar with the opening events of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are aware, the adventure begins with the significant loss of the Great Deku Tree. Shortly before the beginning of the game, the guardian of the forest was cursed by Ganondorf as punishment for not handing over the Kokiri’s Emerald. The Great Deku Tree asks Navi to seek out Link so that the young boy can attempt to break the curse. After plunging into the depths of the tree, Link defeats Queen Gohma, but it is too late to save him.

Before dying, the Great Deku Tree tells Link the story of the creation of Hyrule and his destiny in relation to Princess Zelda. Link then sets out on his adventure, while Navi looks back with sadness as the Great Deku Tree withers. This moment is made even more heartbreaking with the shift in music near the end of the cutscene, which emphasizes the sadness Navi is feeling.

3. Princess Zelda sheds some tears for her fallen comrades

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

Breath of the Wild Zelda cries

The road to release for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was long and tiring. As someone who followed the game for the entirety of its development, the release date trailer was one of the best moments I’ve experienced when it comes to announcements. This particular trailer pulled out all the stops, including a crying Princess Zelda. If you go back and watch reaction videos, most Zelda fans were taken aback by this. Not only is Breath of the Wild the first game in the series to use voice acting, but it is one of the only titles to show emotion in such a direct manner.

After escaping from Calamity Ganon, Link and Zelda manage to run into a nearby forest clearing. Princess Zelda is obviously traumatized by the events leading up to this very moment, and she starts to cry (and so did I). All of this culminates with Zelda breaking down onto Link’s lap, and our hero being the kind, warm soul that he is, he reassures her. As with most things in Breath of the Wild, this cutscene is actually optional and can be skipped entirely. However, I personally recommend that you go out of your way to explore all of the memories, as they add more to the lore of the game.

2. Saying goodbye to Grandma

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)

5 The Legend of Zelda heartbreaking moments

A lot happens at the beginning of The Wind Waker. Link’s younger sister, Aryll, is kidnapped by a huge bird known as the Helmaroc King. This then causes Link to team up with Tetra and her pirate crew in order to rescue his missing sibling. However, doing so will leave Link’s Grandma by herself, and she is distraught that Aryll has been kidnapped. Link’s farewell at the beginning of the game is iconic, as the music shifts in tone when our hero waves back at his beloved Grandma. Link can also return to his Grandma’s house later on in the game, which reveals that she is burdened with fear of losing both of her grandchildren.

1. Mikau and the Zora Mask

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)

Majora's Mask Mikau

The Song of Healing is easily one of the more emotional songs in the Zelda series. Throughout Link’s adventure in the lands of Termina, the beautifully composed song will whistle its way into your ears a lot, and it’s also at the center of the most heartbreaking moment in the Zelda series. When Link arrives in the Great Bay, an unconscious Zora can be seen in the ocean. Approaching the Zora, Link helps him to the shoreline. The anthropomorphic fish is revealed to be Mikau, the lead guitarist of the popular Zora band, The Indigo-Go’s, and a hero to his people.

Majora's Mask Mikau

During the events of Majora’s Mask, Mikau finds out that Lulu’s Zora Eggs were stolen by the Gerudo Pirates. The realization of this event enrages Mikau, as he has a close relationship with Lulu, and it is implied that he may be the father of these unborn Zora children. Mikau subsequently attempts to infiltrate the nearby Pirate Fortress but is struck down during his mission. Dying from his injuries, Mikau plays a final song to Link that requests the young hero assist Lulu in getting her voice back.

Link then plays the Song of Healing, resulting in this most heartbreaking cutscene in the Zelda franchise. His soul is trapped inside the Zora Mask, allowing Link to continue the Zora’s quest to save Lulu and her lost children. This is one of many reasons why The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is considered one of the darkest games in the series, as it deals with mature themes like this one.

There are probably some moments that we missed, but be sure to check out my previous list to see if it made the cut on there. The Legend of Zelda has a lot of heartbreaking moments, so this was a difficult list to compile. Are there any moments that pulled at your heart strings?

Jaimie Ditchfield
Freelance Writer. Work seen on GGRecon, Zelda Universe, and BackToTheGaming. Studied Games Journalism and PR for three years, and is relentless at spreading his love for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.