A most fitting topic to end a challenge on, eh?
Whatever the story, in any medium, there tend to be only a handful of possible endings. By that I mean, whatever the nuanced form they take, they tend to fall into certain overarching camps.
Most common: “And they all live happily ever after. The end.” The Zelda games do this as much as anyone else, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. 🙂
Another possible ending is, “And they all died horribly.” That’s a common ending among horror stories, and largely absent from the Zelda franchise, though one could make a certain argument concerning Link’s Awakening.
A third option is, “And then they set out on an even greater adventure.”
That’s the sort of ending I’ve chosen, not only because it’s distinct – I think there are only two times it appears in the franchise so far – but because of how well it was done.
Part of this, of course, goes into everything about the King of Red Lions’ fate, which I mentioned already, so I’ll pretty much skip that. Suffice to say, the circumstances surrounding the before, during, and after of the final battle with Ganondorf hit all the right buttons, including the shock of Ganondorf’s final demise, and culminates in the King’s sacrifice. He is left in the dark of the ocean’s depths, but he sends the next generation of his people up into the light. He takes his place in the past, having scattered the seeds of the future.
And scatter they do.
As the credits roll, Tetra, Link, and the pirates set sail. They leave their old home behind, perhaps forever, as they go in search of a new land, a new kingdom to build. It is the ultimate triumph, complete with great, triumphant, perhaps slightly mournful music. They aren’t going back to their old lives, they’re forging ahead to a new one. Off they go, across the blue, over the horizon, into the unknown.
It’s really very simple, potent imagery: now children are leaving the nest, off to make the world theirs. The torch has been passed. The enemy is defeated, the crisis has ended… now the adventure begins!