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Hayes Madsen

'Tears of the Kingdom' Ending Explained: Breaking Down Zelda’s Most Memorable Finale Yet

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom easily ranks among the most unique experiences in the franchise, not just because of its wild building mechanics but also due to its twisty time-traveling story. Tears of the Kingdom has one of the best finales in Zelda history, and as you might expect, it’s all a lot to take in.

We’ll help break down the final hours of Tears of the Kingdom, along with the fate of its main characters.

Warning: Massive spoilers ahead. This is an ending explainer, after all!

Finding the Master Sword

The final act of Tears of the Kingdom kicks in once you get all five Sage’s Vows and uncover the twelve Dragon Tears across Hyrule, finally revealing the location of the Master Sword. A final flashback reveals that Zelda turned herself into a Divine Dragon by swallowing her Secret Stone. By embedding the Master Sword in her new body, Zelda spends millennia pouring her light essence into the weapon, restoring and empowering it beyond anything before.

To get the Master Sword back, Link has to land on the dragon and literally tear it from its head. Sadly, however, Zelda remains in dragon form and simply flies away. With the sword of light in hand Link is finally ready to confront Ganondorf. Through some recon in the Depths, you learn the Demon King has made his base far beneath Hyrule Castle, deeper than you’ve ever ventured before.

Demon King Ganondorf

With the help of the Sages, Link traverses the network of tunnels at the bottom of the Depths, and confronts Ganondorf one-on-one. The Demon King’s designs are simple — he only wants to reform Hyrule in his image and rule over everything as the ultimate king.

After two nail-biting fights, Ganondorf follows in Zelda’s footsteps and swallows the Secret Stone that’s been giving him power, turning into a massive demonic dragon. Link is fired high into Hyrule’s sky with Ganondorf. Just in the nick of time, Zelda appears to help the hero in a massive dragon-versus-dragon battle. After destroying all the Eyes of Malice on Ganondorf’s body, Link uses the Master Sword to break the villain’s Secret Stone, resulting in a massive explosion.

While the Demon King explodes, it’s not entirely clear if this is a definitive end or if Ganondorf’s long cycle of rebirth will continue into future entries.

After the battle, Link is transported into some kind of ethereal realm, where the spirits of Rauru and Sonia appear. Using Link’s arm and their own power, the trio restore Princess Zelda’s original body. As Ruaru and Sonia disappear, so does the arena Link and Zelda are standing in.

The Fate of Hyrule

Link and Zelda reappear in Hyrule’s sky and plummet toward the ground. Link has to dive toward Zelda and catch her, then they both safely land in a pool of water.

Zelda awakens and tells Link she felt a “warm, loving embrace,” and she concludes that her sacrifice helped to finally beat the Demon King. As the Gloom corruption starts to fall off of Hyrule Castle in the distance, Zelda tells Link she saw Hyrule at its peak when she was dreaming and has “so much” to tell him.

After the credits roll we’re treated to one final scene, with Zelda, Link, and all the sages standing at the altar where the princess first turned into a dragon. Mineru says she wanted to share the view with her friends one final time, and tells the group that Hyrule’s safety is now up to them, just before she fades out of existence.

Zelda now addresses the group and talks about how Rauru and Sonia dreamt of an eternal peace for Hyrule, and how she wants to carry on that dream. Each of the Sages confirm their dedication, and that of their descendants, to seeing that dream through.

Overall it feels like a fairly definitive ending, but so did Breath of the Wild at the time. We’ve still only seen a few flashbacks of ancient Hyrule, and considering how Zelda says she saw “so much,” it’s certainly possible we could see more development on that end. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what Nintendo has in store next.

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

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