5

The way I see it there are four possible answers:

  1. They are hereditary
  2. Each piece goes to the one worthy of it
  3. Each piece goes to the one who most desires it
  4. Straight reincarnation

But none of these quite make sense. Below I have listed and pointed out the issues with each

Hereditary

In Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, it seems as if they had their pieces of the Triforce all along, almost as if it is hereditary, but this does not match with the fact that at the beginning of Wind Waker it specifically states that the world is in the condition that it's in because there was no Hero of Time, which is not possible if the Hero of Time is simply a descendant of the Hero of Time. Furthermore, because even though it has never been confirmed, one of the iterations Link and Zelda (Phantom Hourglass,Skyward Sword) probably got married and had kids, given that Link and Zelda are never related, they can't both be descended from those two.

Worthy

While this explanation holds for Link and possibly for Zelda (she's never demonstrated doing anything particularly wise, in fact, it is her idea to open the Door of Time, allowing Ganondorf to get to the Triforce), few can say it fits Ganondorf, each variation is different, but they are all plot cunningly, and though they demonstrate patience, it does not show them worthy of supernatural power.

Desire

This one makes the most sense in Ganondorfs case, it says exactly that in game, and it could hold for Zelda (she never really states her desires, other than the world not ending). But Link is always kind of pulled from a blissful existence into the cruel world by extraordinary circumstances. Now you could say that he at this point desires courage ( to rescue his sister, to find Illia, to fulfill the Deku Tree's command) but it is implied he is the hero because he had the Triforce, not the other way around.

Reincarnation

This is the most popular theory, and for a good reason, it is almost directly supported in Skyward Sword. Although this one holds up moderately well there are a few issues.

Ganondorf is always an incarnation of Demise and always greatly desires power. This holds fairly well across all games, Ganondorf is always powerful and desires more. The only issue I can think of is why is Ghirahim (his weapon) never reincarnated? Though Fi never appears again, it could be said that she remains as the spirit of the Master Sword, Ganondorf only wields a sword two other times that I know of, and they don't appear to have any special properties.

Link, as "The Chosen Hero" has the easiest criteria to fill for reincarnation, and for the most part, it fits. Although his actions and motivations for such actions change with each game,he is relatively the same from game to game. The difference is, sometimes he receives the Triforce of Courage (Skyward Sword) sometimes he has it from the beginning (Wind Waker, Ocarina of Time) sometimes its not entirely clear (Twilight Princess), and if he were reincarnated it would be expected to be the same.

Zelda is the one that really throws this theory though. From one game to another, everything about her changes, her appearance, her position in her family, the exact nature of her powers, and her emotions and actions towards Link. Most notably, her role in Ganondorf's/Demise's destruction changes drastically from one to another

  • In Skyward Sword she does nothing, though it is her power that keeps him contained, once he is free she is helpless and Link is fighting to save her.
  • In Ocarina of Time she acts as a channel for the power of the Sages to pin Ganon in order for you to finish him off
  • In Wind Waker she gets a "kill assist" wielding the light arrows while you strike Ganondorf with your sword
  • Most notably, she has almost no part to play in Twilight Princess

By the reincarnation theory, her part would be at least somewhat similar as Ganondorf and Link's are, not diametrically different and variable.

To sum up everything I just said, if the Triforce(s?) is/are not hereditary, how do they end up in the people they do? (Aside from "destiny")

  • I thought it was hereditary by way of reincarnation/resurrection rather than genetics – Izkata Jul 16 '14 at 3:47
  • @Izkata its now accounted for – Devon Muraoka Jul 16 '14 at 4:39
6

It seems to be by compatibility rather than worthiness.

First, let's see how the triforce behaves when somebody tries to use it:

if a person without an equal balance of power, wisdom, and courage makes a wish, the Triforce will split into its three separate parts: the piece that best personifies the wish-maker will be the only piece to remain in hand, whilst the other two will take residence in whosoever most personifies them. http://zelda.wikia.com/wiki/Triforce

Apparently, the pieces will keep trying to go to somebody whose personality best matches each piece. Note that this doesn't mean that a random guy can't hold a triforce piece.

Reincarnation seems to be a solid and recurrent theme in the game: Link is always courageous - like the Skyward hero - Ganondorf is always power thirsty - like Demise - and Zelda is wise, like Hylia.

Now, you were arguing that Zelda is not quite wise in all games. However, there's something curious about Hylia - from the introduction of Skyward Sword:

Handed down by the gods of old, this power gave its holder the means to make any desire a reality. Such was the might of the ultimate power that the old ones placed it in the care of the goddess.

The Old Gods entrusted Hylia with the triforce's safety. The Gods judged her as wise. While it is true that she makes some dumb decisions in the games, we can't deny the the Gods themselves decided the she is wise anyway, and hence, the triforce does too.

So, even though Zelda is pretty dumb for us, it is the Old God's judgement what prevails.

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5

To clarify the first part of your question. Wind Waker is set in the timeline where Link travels back in time in Ocarina of Time, thus why the world is left without a Hero of Time. However, because of the actions of Skyward Sword, some incarnation of Link will be born. So, partially reincarnation.

Remember though, that Link must prove his courage throughout the games in order to obtain his piece of the Triforce, it usually isn't innately within him. The fact that he is the Goddess's Chosen One does help though since it signifies that he has the courage and purity to use the Triforce of Courage as the Hero of Time.

Ganon/Ganondorf is always the incarnation of Demise. In different games he has different goals, but the result is always the same. he desires power. Because of this he is attuned to the Triforce of Power, hence why in Ocarina of Time, the other pieces fly off since he only believes he needs that Triforce.

Zelda is also an interesting case as she is always the current incarnation of the Goddess Hylia. With Wind Waker, because King Daphnes already had the Triforce of Wisdom in his possession he was able to pass on the piece to Zelda and hide her as Tetra. So this shows that the Triforce can be passed on to others who are worthy. It's just an added bonus that she is the Goddess in human form.

Seeing as Daphnes is also able to use the Triforce to make a wish at the end of Wind Waker, it seems safe to say that all three elements are in play. So long as you are worthy, you may use it. If you have the desire and mindset that matches a piece, you will be able to use it. The reincarnation bit only seems to implies that those spirits/souls/essences of the Hero, Goddess, and Chaos who are most attuned to the Triforce will be able to access them in any timeline or lifetime it seems.

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  • The problem with this answer is it seems to be based almost entirely on Wind Waker, which although an excellent game with good points, is an outlier in the lore. Also, it leans fairly heavily on "destiny" and its explanation of Zelda is decidedly incomplete – Devon Muraoka Jul 20 '14 at 7:09

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