Whether you'd like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom ending explained, or you're just keen to know what happens in the game's final moments, we have you covered.
We've played more than 70 hours of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and completed all the major quests to give you a thorough breakdown of what happens in the closing hour of the massive open-world sandbox adventure.
Naturally, there are massive spoilers for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom's ending and several major quests leading up to that conclusion, so if you want to find the story out for yourself, you should come back and read this later.
A tale as old as time
By the time you reach the final battle with Ganondorf, you'll have unearthed the threads of a storyline spanning thousands of years.
When you faced the mummified Ganondorf at the start of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Princess Zelda's hidden powers as a Sage of Time awakened. She traveled back to the earliest days of Hyrule, at a time when the Zonai Raaru and the Hryulean Queen Sonia ruled over the Kingdom.
Unable to return to the present, Princess Zelda joined forces with Raaru and tried to stop Ganondorf in their time. However, even with her aid, Raaru and the assembled sages were unable to defeat The Demon King. As told in the murals you discovered under Hyrule Castle, Raaru sacrificed himself to imprison Ganondorf. Zelda knows that Ganondorf will once again break free and threaten the kingdom.
Zelda remembers the Master Sword was the only weapon that harmed Ganondorf when she and Link faced him in the present, though The Demon King was able to shatter the blade, as it was not powerful enough. She realises she must not just repair the sword but strengthen it, too. The princess comes up with a plan to help Link defeat Ganondorf, even from her place in the past. In fact, it's only possible because of her place in the past.
The Master Sword can regenerate with time and even become stronger by drawing on on divine power. In talking to Raaru's sister, Mineru, the Sage of Spirit, Zelda learns of a process called dragonification. She will transform into a dragon if she consumes her hidden stone, the Time Stone. As a creature, she will be immortal, but she will also lose herself and her mind.
Zelda decides it is the only way to help Link and save the kingdom. Clutching the hilt of the ruined Master Sword to her chest, the princess swallows her Time stone. She becomes the Light Dragon, feeding her power into the blade, strengthening it in the thousands of years between her transformation and Link's arrival on the scene.
Back to the present
In the present, having drawn the sword from the Dragon Zelda's head, Link faces Ganondorf and battles The Demon King in the caves deep below Hyrule Castle. However, after defeating the ancient evil in a duel, Ganondorf can't face the loss. He breaks the hidden stone he stole from Queen Sonia back in the earliest days of Hyrule, takes one last look at the world, and swallows it. Ganondorf's body twists and blooms as he leaves behind the last of his humanity and becomes the Demon Dragon.
However, as soon as the dark king takes to the sky, he is attacked by the Light Dragon, Princess Zelda. She may have lost herself in the dragonification process, but she still remembers something of the evil she wished to battle when she changed.
Riding on the Light Dragon's back, Link takes the fight to the Demon Dragon in the sky. Defeating Ganondorf before he becomes too powerful, and shattering the Time Stone embedded in the dragon’s forehead.
As the Demon King's corpse evaporates and Link rides on the Light Dragon’s back, the spirits of the long-dead King Raaru and Queen Sonia appear beside the hero. The ancient rulers reach into Hyrule's hero and channel their energy through him, firing a beam of light into the Light Dragon.
The dragon begins to shift and change, its skin shrinking, and as the spirits at Link's back fade and disappear, the creature turns back into Princess Zelda. With the princess in his arms, Link holds tight as the two fall safely into a lake.
After the battle
In the days after, Zelda, Link, and the other sages travel to the Temple of Time and discuss what happened. The princess says she remembers little about her time as a dragon, and that it was only through Link that Raaru and Sonia were able to save her, though it also used up the last of them to do it.
Mineru explains that as Raaru had the power of light, and Sonia the power of time, they could channel their powers through Link to save Zelda, who is a sage of both light and time. She says that now Ganondorf is defeated, she, too, is ready to depart.
The remaining sages pledge their allegiance to Princess Zelda, saying “Those of us gathered here swear on our lives to support Princess Zelda and safeguard the land of Hyrule”, a mirroring of a previous pledge made by the original sages back in the time of Raaru. Mineru, gladdened by the pledge, relinquishes her hold on the world, leaving her mechanical body behind.
Princess Zelda says she will dedicate herself to the goal of bringing eternal peace to Hyrule, and asks her new friends to stand with her. At which point, the credits roll.
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Julian's been writing about video games for more than a decade. In that time, he's always been drawn to the strange intersections between gaming and the real world, like when he interviewed a NASA scientist who had become a Space Pope in EVE Online, or when he traveled to Ukraine to interview game developers involved in the 2014 revolution, or that time he tore his trousers while playing Just Dance with a developer.