The Legend of Zelda – All Appearances of the Master Sword in Chronological Order

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gameplay

The Legend of Zelda – All Appearances of the Master Sword in Chronological Order

In terms of iconic video game weapons, few armaments come close to the Master Sword from The Legend of Zelda. Since the blade’s debut in A Link to the Past, the Master Sword has continued to play a vital role in Link’s place as the Hero of Time and serves as the Sword of Evil’s Bane, the weapon capable of defending Hyrule from the clutches of darkness and protecting the Triforce from would-be usurpers. Thanks to the events of Skyward Sword and its establishment of the Zelda continuity, the Master Sword is now officially one of the most important pieces of iconography in the series and is yet another artifact and gift from Hyrule’s goddesses along with the Triforce. As a result, all appearances of the Master Sword go to great lengths to communicate the weapon’s significance.

Though it doesn’t appear in every mainline game in the series, the Master Sword is nonetheless a recurring item in some of the most important titles in the franchise. Beyond its use as a weapon, the Master Sword is an important part of the Zelda mythology and is inseparable from Link. One could even argue that Link is simply the vessel through which the Master Sword battles against the forces of evil. As one would expect, the blade plays an important role in both the narrative and gameplay in each Zelda title that it features in.

A Link to the Past artwork

©Zelda concept art – Original

Though Link has three different swords he can acquire in the original Legend of Zelda, it’s not until A Link to the Past that the Master Sword makes its official debut. This sword, said to have once been wielded by a brave knight who assisted with banishing Ganon, awaits those worthy of wielding it within the Lost Woods. After acquiring the three Pendants of Virtue and proving his worth as a hero, Link can enter the Sacred Grove and claim the Master Sword. The blade is the only thing capable of deflecting Agahnim’s magic back at him and is one-half of the combo necessary to take down Ganon (along with the Silver Arrow). 

The conclusion to A Link to the Past sees Link return the Master Sword to its resting place within the Lost Woods. Having helped bring peace back to Hyrule, the young hero leaves the blade for the next worthy soul that might need to call upon its power to help save the world and defend the Triforce. Accordingly, this version of Link does not wield the Master Sword in the other games he appears in.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Ocarina of Time gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot – Original

The next appearance of the Master Sword would come about courtesy of the series’ first transition into 3D, Ocarina of Time. Much like A Link to the Past, the Master Sword in this version of Hyrule is purported to be the only blade capable of dispelling evil and lies within the Temple of Time. Additionally, Link must acquire three symbolic totems (the Spiritual Stones instead of Pendants of Virtue) and use them to prove his worth. With the three Spiritual Stones in tow, Link heads to Hyrule Castle just in time to witness Princess Zelda fleeing. She throws Link the Ocarina of Time and telepathically communicates the Song of Time so that the hero can enter the Temple of Time and retrieve the Sword of Evil’s Bane.

However, because Link is still a child and not capable of wielding the Master Sword, time freezes when he pulls the blade from its pedestal. After entering a state of suspended animation, Link awakens 7 years later as a young adult to see Hyrule in ruins. Unlike A Link to the Past, the Master Sword that players acquire at this turning point in Ocarina of Time is the only version of the blade that they will acquire. Though the Biggoron’s Sword is technically more powerful, players still need to use the Master Sword to defeat Ganondorf and Ganon.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons

Oracle of Ages gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot – Original

Canonically, the Link that appears in Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons is the same version from Link’s Awakening and A Link to the Past. Considering Link’s return of the Master Sword, it would be fair to assume that the blade wouldn’t appear in the Oracle titles, but it does as long as players meet some conditions. Thanks to the titles’ interconnectivity, players can beat one of the Oracle games and then receive a password to use when starting a save file on the other. After starting this linked game, certain items and the true final boss become available that are not part of the vanilla playthrough of either Oracle title.

One of the most significant changes is the Noble Sword (the reward for completing each game’s lengthy Trading Sequence side quest) changing into the Master Sword in a linked game. After beating either Ages or Seasons and starting a save file in the other title, players can complete the Trading Sequence side quest to earn the Master Sword, which comes in handy as the most powerful weapon in the game. It also happens to make perfect sense narratively, as the true final boss (only available in a linked game) is Ganon.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Wind Waker gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot – Original

Link’s retrieval of the Master Sword in The Wind Waker is a literal double-edged sword, as the blade is much more than a simple weapon. With Ganon’s influence over Hyrule appearing unstoppable, the former king makes a plea to the gods for assistance. In turn, the deities choose to flood Hyrule and submerge both Ganon and his armies under an ocean to stop them from acquiring the Triforce. As a result, the Master Sword becomes a sort of “key” preserving Hyrule in its slumber. When Link finally acquires the blade, he gains power at the cost of also fully resurrecting Ganon and his armies.

Despite its cartoonish visuals, Wind Waker establishes Link’s combat prowess with the Master Sword as being second to none. The game even culminates with a samurai-style showdown between Ganon (also a master of the blade) and Link. Ultimately, Link can plunge the Master Sword into Ganon’s skull, transforming him into stone and freeing up the Triforce for Link and Zelda to make their wish for the fate of Hyrule.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Twilight Princess gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot – Original

Once again, Twilight Princess features the Master Sword as a slumbering weapon of great power residing within the Sacred Grove. Like the blade’s other appearances, the lore of Twilight Princess describes the Master Sword as having once been the weapon of the Legendary Hero and capable of destroying Ganon. Prior to the release of the Hyrule Historia compendium, players needed to speculate regarding how each game in the Zelda series connects, but this appearance of the Master Sword provides some important clues that establish a throughline between A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and Twilight Princess.

As it turns out, Link’s victory over Ganon in Ocarina of Time results in two outcomes, one of which sees Link return to being a child and warning Princess Zelda of Ganondorf’s intentions to steal the Triforce. In this version of the timeline, the King condemns Ganon to execution, but the sentence is unsuccessful. In a panic, Hyrule’s sages send Ganon to the Twilight Realm, where he’s able to gain influence and manipulate the sorcerer Zant to his own end. This bit of lore establishes the Master Sword as one of the only constants in a world where Hyrule, Link, Princess Zelda, and even Ganon change from entry to entry.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Skyward Sword HD gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot – Original

Speaking of the lore connections between each Zelda game and the Master Sword being one of the few constants, Skyward Sword is potentially the most important appearance of the Master Sword as it establishes both the beginning of the Zelda timeline and the rules that govern it. Following the creation of life itself, the three goddesses depart and entrust the land to the goddess Hylia, leaving behind the vestiges of their power as the Triforce. Eventually, the demon king Demise begins to amass an army to claim the Triforce for himself, resulting in Hylia appointing a chosen hero and sealing Demise in a great slumber.

Thousands of years later, Hylians reside in a safe realm within the clouds, though two individuals are the reincarnation of the goddess Hylia and her chosen hero — Zelda and Link, respectively. When Zelda goes missing, Link receives assistance from a spirit residing within a special sword, and eventually, this blade is reforged into its true form, the Master Sword. Using the blade, Link can defeat Demise, but not before he places a curse on himself, Link, and Zelda to doom the three of them to a cycle of eternal conflict.

A Link Between Worlds concept art

©Zelda concept art – Original

Although A Link Between Worlds takes place in the same version of Hyrule from A Link to the Past, its version of Link is a new reincarnation. That said, the Master Sword is the exact same version of the blade from “The Hero is Defeated” branch of the timeline and is the very same blade that the previous incarnation of Link uses in A Link to the Past. As such, Link must complete a series of trials before proving himself worthy to wield the blade, culminating in his retrieving it from the Sacred Grove within the Lost Woods much like his past self.

In addition to being the only weapon capable of dispelling dark magic barriers and defeating the evil sorcerer Yuga, the Master Sword is essential for Link to travel back and forth between Hyrule and the alternate dimension kingdom of Lorule where he ultimately faces Ganon. And, just like in A Link to the Past, the Link from A Link Between Worlds can upgrade the Master Sword two additional times from its initial form to make an incredibly powerful blade.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot – Original

Though determining Breath of the Wild’s place on the official timeline is still up in the air, the lore within the game at least establishes that a legendary hero wielded the Master Sword against Ganon and the Great Calamity 10,000 years before the events of the game. After centuries of peace and the construction of the Divine Beasts to protect Hyrule, Calamity Ganon returns and can defeat the forces of good, forcing Princess Zelda to place Link into a restorative slumber and hide the Master Sword. When players assume control of Link at the beginning of the game it is a century later and the Master Sword is missing. 

Thankfully, the Master Sword doesn’t differentiate much when it comes to hiding places, meaning players can easily seek out the blade within the Korok Forest and Lost Woods. Rather than need to complete a series of dungeons or quests to prove Link’s worth, he instead needs to make sure he has enough health to pull the sword from its resting place as the Great Deku Tree warns him that the blade will kill those too weak to wield it. Once players have 13 full Heart Containers they can retrieve the Master Sword at any time.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Tears of the Kingdom gameplay

©Gameplay screenshot – Original

The version of Link that appears in Tears of the Kingdom is the very same one from Breath of the Wild. Accordingly, he begins the game in possession of the Master Sword, though he and Princess Zelda’s accidental awakening of Ganondorf results in the demon king degrading the sword and making it worthless before sending the two of them in opposite temporal directions. When Link reawakens and discovers the Master Sword is essentially useless, he must instead rely on conventional weaponry before discovering a way to restore the power of the blade.

Ultimately, Link needs to seek out the Light Dragon to discover that the true form of the sword is embedded within its head. Like Breath of the Wild, Link needs a certain amount of resources to retrieve the weapon, though it is now Stamina Wheels instead of Heart Containers. Interestingly, if players can go the whole game without retrieving the legendary sword, a sequence during the final battle with Ganondorf and the Demon Dragon sees the hero retrieve the blade by default.

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