- This article is about the television program. For information on the series, see The Legend of Zelda (Series). For information on the first game in the series, see The Legend of Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda is an animated series loosely based on The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link. Produced by DIC Entertainment and distributed by Viacom Enterprises, the show aired from September 8 to December 1, 1989 with 13 episodes in total.
The Zelda cartoons were screened every week as part of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! While the Mario cartoons were aired four days a week, the Zelda animated series was shown on Fridays. Most episodes revolve around Ganon or his minions trying to obtain the Triforce of Wisdom and conquer Hyrule. However, Link, accompanied by Princess Zelda and sometimes Spryte, always ruins Ganon's plans by either zapping him into the Evil Jar or eliminating the minions that were doing the work for Ganon. The episodes each run for approximately 15 minutes.
The animated series was not considered a success and was canceled after 13 episodes along with The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Later on, compressed versions of the episodes were shown along with another Nintendo-based cartoon which was also produced by DIC Entertainment: Captain N: The Game Master.
Unlike the video games, where Zelda is typically captured by the story's villain and in need of rescue, the animated series portrays the princess in more of a protagonist role, often fighting alongside Link with weapons such as the bow or the boomerang.
One of the show's running jokes is Link's repeated attempts at trying to get Zelda to kiss him for saving her life. Most of the time, the princess rejects the young hero; however, even when she agrees to indulge him, it never occurs: they are interrupted by monsters, Spryte or any number of unfortunate circumstances such as something making Zelda so mad she no longer wants to kiss Link. This often resulted in Link using his infamous catchphrase: "Well, excuuuuuse me, princess!", which would later be regarded as a "beloved inside joke of many gamers."
Being loosely based on the first two Zelda games, the animated series borrows many elements from the games. The most noticeable ones are the sound effects when Link shoots Sword Beams (here called "Zaps") from his sword or when he retrieves an item from his pouch, which are taken directly from the game. The songs are also inspired by the Overworld and Underworld music, but they are orchestrated for the show. Although the show seems to mostly reference the original The Legend of Zelda, the series also takes some aspects from The Adventure of Link, such as the Lowder Ganon rides or the Moby seen in "Cold Spells".
While the games never truly explain how Link can carry so many items in his pockets, the cartoons interpret this by magically shrinking the items when they are placed in pouches, allowing the young hero to return the item back to its normal size whenever he retrieves it from his pocket.
Link almost never uses his sword to slash at enemies, preferring to use Sword Beams. This was likely done to tone down the violence in the series. Likewise, the Evil Jar is an original contribution to the Zelda mythos. It serves both to explain why enemies respawn after Link kills them, and to soften the violence in the series. Only magical monsters are sent to the Evil Jar when they die, and Link's sword beams cannot kill humans.
VHS and DVD Re-releases
In the early 1990s, the series was released on VHS with two episodes per tape, but only four volumes were released in total. Although the animated series had been released in DVD before by Allumination FilmWorks in the early 2000s, it did not include all of the episodes. On October 18, 2005, however, Shout! Factory and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the complete Zelda animated series. It was made of three DVDs which contained bonus content such as interactive games. One of them is the Trivia Game that consists of several multiple-choice questions about the show and the Zelda game series. The other, called the Match Game, gives the viewer about five seconds to "look at twelve pictures and then [are] asked detailed questions about them." The bonus features also had content that demonstrated "easy-to-draw representations of the Legend of Zelda characters."
- Cyndy Preston as Princess Zelda
- Jonathan Potts as Link
- Len Carlson as Ganon and Moblins
- Colin Fox as King Harkinian
- Elizabeth Hanna as the Triforce of Wisdom
- Paulina Gillis as Spryte
|#||Title||Original airdate||Production #|
|1||"The Ringer"||September 8, 1989||101|
|2||"Cold Spells"||September 15, 1989||103|
|3||"The White Knight"||September 22, 1989||102|
|4||"Kiss'n Tell"||September 29, 1989||104|
|5||"Sing for the Unicorn"||October 6, 1989||105|
|6||"That Sinking Feeling"||October 13, 1989||106|
|7||"Doppelganger"||October 20, 1989||107|
|8||"Underworld Connections"||October 27, 1989||108|
|9||"Stinging a Stinger"||November 3, 1989||109|
|10||"A Hitch in the Works"||November 10, 1989||111|
|11||"Fairies in the Spring"||November 17, 1989||112|
|12||"The Missing Link"||November 24, 1989||113|
|13||"The Moblins are Revolting"||December 1, 1989||110|
The opening of the show goes as follows:
- (Zelda theme music plays, as scene opens up in Link's room. The Triforce of Wisdom is resting on a pedestal. The door opens, and Link and Zelda come into the room)
- Zelda: This is the Triforce of Wisdom, Link. (Scene changes to Ganon's throne room) The evil wizard Ganon has the Triforce of Power. (Ganon laughs maniacally, as he sends his minions to Hyrule Castle) Whoever gets both Triforces will rule this land forever! You must help me, Link!
- Link: Hey, for you Zelda, anything!
- (A short sequence occurs in which Link battles a few Moblins. The scene changes to Link and Zelda riding on horseback,heading towards Ganon's Castle. Moblins come charging out at them, and they jump into the river under the drawbridge. Link lands on some rocks, but Zelda lands in the water, soaking wet)
- Zelda: (Sarcastically) Nice job, hero!
- Link: Hey, ex-CUSE me, Princess!
- Princess Zelda
- King Harkinian
- Prince Facade
- Triforce of Power
- Triforce of Wisdom
- Zelda's Clone
- Spryte's Sister
- King Oberon
- Witch of Walls
- Giant Fish
- Water Monster
- Magical Shield
- Zelda's Bow
- Magic Rope
- Overworld Magnet
- Magic Bracelets
- Force Field Ring
- Magic Compass
- Jewel of Control
- Wand of Power
- Capture Staff
IGN.com comments that "younger viewers will probably feel bored and a bit put-off by the cheesy storylines and bad dialogue" of the series. The website also critiques the show for the repetitiveness of the plot, but comments on how the sound effects add "quaintness" to the cartoon. As for the DVD release, complaints were mostly about the overall quality, further saying that the colors were "a bit too bright" in some parts and how a character's hair changes from "frame to frame." IGN also cites how the DVD release felt rushed due to the episodes always starting with the Super Mario Bros. Super Show! animated segment.
- The appearance of Spryte as Link's fairy companion predates Navi's appearance by almost ten years.
- The running time of all thirteen episodes combined is approximately 255 minutes.
- According to the back of a VHS distributed by Tempo Video, Link and Zelda are both 15 years old in the show.
- The Triforce of Courage does not appear nor was mentioned in the series.
- A set of promotional production art slides found from the estate sale of a former DiC employee in 2019 suggest that a continuation of the cartoon titled The Adventures of Link was planned, but ultimately scrapped.
|Names in Other Regions|
|FrenchEU||Princesse Zelda||Princess Zelda|
|German||The Legend of Zelda|
|Italian||Un regno incantato per Zelda||An enchanted kingdom for Zelda|
- "The Zelda series screened once a week as part of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Four days a week, they would screen Mario cartoons, but once a week it was a Zelda cartoon." — Zelda: The Animated Series, TheSacredRealm.net.
- "Most of the episodes follow a common plotline: Ganon wants the Triforce and devises numerous schemes to obtain it. He holds the Triforce of Power, and the Triforce of Wisdom is guarded by Link, who lives in the castle. Whoever holds both Triforces will rule the land of Hyrule. Each episode lasted approximately 15 minutes." — Zelda: The Animated Series, TheSacredRealm.net.
- "The cartoon was not regarded as a success, and after one 13-episode series it was dropped. Later on, cut down versions of the episodes were repeated with another Nintendo-based cartoon, Captain N the Gamemaster." — Zelda: The Animated Series, TheSacredRealm.net.
- "I'm glad too. And thanks for rescuing me. You still want a kiss?" — Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda TV Series, Episode 4 )
- "Mmm...shut up and kiss me!" — Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda TV Series, Episode 6 )
- "We did it! Kiss me!" — Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda TV Series, Episode 9 )
- "On the other hand, The Legend of Zelda animated series does have its camp merits. Link's awkward plea, "Well excuuuuuse me, Princess," which later made its way into the infamous CD-i Zelda games, is a beloved inside joke of many gamers. The sound effects incorporated into the show also add some quaintness to the show." — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "The music is awesome, much of it inspired by the Overworld and Underworld music from the first Zelda game. Sound effects taken directly from this game are also common, such as when Link defeats enemies or uses items." — Zelda: The Animated Series, TheSacredRealm.net.
- "The Legend of Zelda Trivia Game is a fun diversion. There are a series of multiple-choice questions (with one answer obviously wrong) about the show and the game series. Although none of the questions are hard, fanatics of the series probably won't mind proving to themselves that they know their stuff." — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "The Match Game on the other hand is way too difficult. You're given about five seconds to look at twelve pictures and then asked detailed questions about them." — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "Finally, there is some DVD-ROM content that features easy-to-draw representations of the Legend of Zelda characters." — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "This set is probably only valuable to video game fans and people who grew up with the show. Younger viewers will probably feel bored and a bit put-off by the cheesy storylines and bad dialogue." — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "The show's plot isn't its strong point, usually following a very repetitive structure of action sandwiched between comical set-up scenes.http://dvd.ign.com/articles/655/655002p2.html" — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "During my time with DVD I have seen some fantastic transfers and clean up of material from years ago, unfortunately this is not an example of that. The video here is barely even VHS quality and is riddled with flaws. There is a ton of grain in many scenes as well as some cross coloration and even a washed out looking image. Outdoor and indoor environments are covered with a severe amount of speck and dirt in the picture. Many times there are also soft edges and everything has a slightly blurred appearance." — Legend of Zelda: Complete Animated Series, DVDTalk.com.
- "The first thing you'll notice about this set is its extreme artifact problem. Specks and spots pop up constantly and everywhere. Especially notable in the out-door scenes in which the darker artifacts contrast with the lighter backgrounds, the artifacts really age this show. Colors are also a bit of a problem, looking a bit too bright." — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "One annoying aspect of this DVD set is that, regardless of whether or not you choose to watch the Legend of Zelda episodes with or without the Mario Brothers live-action segments, the show still always starts with the Super Mario Brothers Super Show animated beginning." — The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, IGN.com.
- "This animated fantasy-adventure (with a good deal of humour) stars Link - a fifteen-year-old adventurer, and Zelda - a princess of the same age." (The Legend of Zelda (Tempo Video))