The Triforce (トライフォース Toraifōsu ) is a fictional relic from Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series of video games. Referred to as "The Golden Power" in ancient Hylian literature, it is an omnipotent sacred relic, representing the essence of the Golden Goddesses who created the realm of Hyrule. It appeared where they departed the realm for the heavens. It is a main focus of the plot of many games in the series, including The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, and The Wind Waker.
The book The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy offers several interpretations about the significance and role of the Triforce.
Patrick Dugan suggests that three of the fundamental items in the series form a three-pronged relationship as tools of power (in the sense of the Triforce of Power). These are the sword, bombs, and arrows. Each has unique characteristics, and the three form the fundamental building blocks for all weapons in the series. Further weapons are formed as modifications of these basic ones.
In terms of the Triforce of Courage, Dugan draws a comparison between the three-pronged nature of the Triforce and other concepts. He notes that several religions, such as Hinduism, have three deities. He also compares the Triforce to the three branches of the United States government. He suggests that the Maidens, Wise Men, and Knights operate in a similar system of checks and balances. The author further suggests that the Triforce simplifies complex systems into a symbol that everyone can understand.
Dugan concludes that while the Triforce offers the illusion of choice, such a choice does not actually exist.
Charles Joshua Horn suggests that all pieces of the Triforce are intended to be used in moderation, and that each piece is morally neutral. He says that wisdom and courage are not inherently more valuable than power, and that all three can be abused when in certain hands. The author draws a connection with Aristotle, who painted courage as a virtue, a virtue being "when that disposition falls between two extremes of excess and deficiency." Link uses courage as a virtue, facing Ganon while taking reasonable precautions so as not to be reckless. Similarly, the author says, power must be used in moderation.
The author suggests that "maybe the Triforce is a symbol for what virtues the goddesses wanted to show were the most important in their absence." The author goes on to suggest that the Triforce "may not be a fictional entity at all, but instead, a bright guiding force in our sometimes dark world."
In the series
The Triforce consists of three distinct entities represented by the three smaller triangles, each of which is also referred to as a Triforce when considered individually. The triangles are referred to as the Triforce of Power, the Triforce of Wisdom, and the Triforce of Courage.
These can be further subdivided, as shown in The Legend of Zelda, where in the Triforce of Wisdom was split into eight pieces; and in The Wind Waker, wherein the Triforce of Courage was split into eight pieces and the Triforce of Wisdom into two.
In some games, each of the three Triforce parts manifests itself as a symbol on the hand of its bearer. When two or more Triforce bearers come into close proximity, the Triforce symbols on their hands will glow. When all three are together (as seen in both Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker), the entire Triforce can potentially be recombined.
Triforce of Power
This Triforce embodies the essence of Din, the Goddess of Power, who is the shaper of the realm in which Hyrule exists. Her divine essence grants the holder of the Triforce of Power an unlimited amount of mystical power. The Triforce of Power is usually associated specifically with Ganon, who uses its vast power to his own evil ends. The top triangle in the Triforce represents the Triforce of Power.
It appears in The Legend of Zelda, but the only back-story given was that Ganon gained it by thievery. Link acquires it after defeating Ganon inside Death Mountain.
In Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf (a Gerudo thief) heard of the legend of the Triforce and lusted after its power, primarily as a tool to subjugate the kingdom of Hyrule and expand his influence. Inadvertently aided by a young hero known as Link and the Hylian princess Zelda, Ganondorf eventually finds his way into the Sacred Realm. Ganondorf did not know that to claim the complete Triforce, one must have in his/her heart a balance of three virtues represented by each of the three pieces of the Triforce — power, wisdom, and courage. As his heart did not contain in it this balance, the Triforce splits into its three components, leaving Ganondorf with only the piece representing the characteristic he values most, the Triforce of Power. The remaining pieces are sealed in "those chosen by destiny": the Triforce of Courage in Link and the Triforce of Wisdom in Zelda. Each of the three received the mark of the Triforce on the back of one hand. Although Ganon suffers defeat at the hands of Link and is banished to the Sacred Realm by the power of the Seven Sages, he retains the Triforce of Power. Link and Zelda also retain their Triforce pieces.
In the back-story of Twilight Princess, the Triforce of Power, along with his own dark magic (which is rejuvenated by being close to the malice and hatred of the execution grounds), allowed Ganondorf to survive his execution at the hands of the Ancient Sages. At the end of the game, Link defeats him by using the Master Sword to impale him through the wound on his chest, and as Ganondorf grows weak, the Triforce crest fades from his hand.
Triforce of Wisdom
The Triforce of Wisdom holds the essence of Nayru, the Goddess of Wisdom, who is recognized for creating the physical laws of the realm of Hyrule. It is usually associated with Princess Zelda, and in most games, she possesses it. When activated, the lower left triangle in the Triforce mark on Zelda's hand glows, representing the Triforce of Wisdom. The bottom-left piece of the Triforce typically portrays the Triforce of Wisdom.
Though Zelda is known to possess innate mystical powers, the essence of Nayru, wielded by Zelda using the Triforce of Wisdom, enhances these abilities. In various incarnations, Zelda has demonstrated telepathy, precognition, and mystic energy projection, among other abilities.
Seemingly by means of the Triforce's power, Zelda demonstrated shapeshifting abilities in Ocarina of Time. To hide herself from Ganondorf, Zelda assumes the guise of a young Sheikah man who calls himself Sheik, the last remaining Sheikah other than Impa. In Twilight Princess, Zelda used the power of the Triforce of Wisdom to detect the dark magic trapping Link in his wolf form, and it may have granted her the power to remain in her true form in the Twilight. The Triforce of Wisdom may have been used to save Midna's life and transfer Zelda's light or soul into Midna to give her the ability to survive the light of Hyrule. Zelda, after being revived, states to Midna, "Our souls were one, however briefly." It is unknown whether or not Midna receives the Triforce for a short time, because after putting back Zelda's "soul", she survives in the light just fine.
In The Wind Waker, Tetra the pirate carries a necklace made from most of the Triforce of Wisdom; the King of Hyrule carries the other part of it. When the two pieces are reunited, Tetra's true identity is revealed to be Zelda.
Triforce of Courage
The Triforce of Courage contains the divine essence of Farore, the Goddess of Courage, (also known as Faron) who is renowned for creating all life that inhabits the Hyrulean realm. It is usually associated specifically with Link. The Triforce of Courage is typically portrayed as the bottom-right piece of the Triforce.
It is unclear what specific benefits the Triforce of Courage affords its user, but the holder of the Triforce of Courage is imbued with Farore's essence, and afforded attributes analogous to those of the Goddess of Courage herself. Link seems to have an affinity for Farore's color, green. In past Zelda games, Link has been called "The Green Fairy," which is a metaphor of Farore.
The Triforce of Courage also seems to afford its wielder an unknown degree of protection from certain forms of magic, and transformation. In Twilight Princess, when Link entered the Twilight-afflicted regions of Hyrule, the Triforce of Courage prevented him from becoming a lost soul like the other denizens of Hyrule, and instead transformed him into a divine wolf. Interestingly, although the Triforce is seen in Twilight Princess, it is never explicitly mentioned by name.
The Triforce of Courage first appeared in The Adventure of Link, sealed within the Great Palace, and is required in the game by Link to awaken the sleeping Zelda. In Ocarina of Time, Link unknowingly obtains the Triforce of Courage while trapped in the sacred realm, after Ganondorf fails to claim the complete Triforce, splitting it into its three components. In Twilight Princess, it is implicitly indicated that Link carried the Triforce of Courage throughout his entire life, as he bears the crest on his hand at all times. The Triforce of Courage can be seen on a small banner above the entrance of Link's home in Ordon Village.
In the cinematic introduction of The Wind Waker, it is stated that when the Hero left Hyrule the Triforce of Courage was broken into eight pieces and scattered across the land, to be recovered one day by another hero deserving of its power. After restoring the power of the Master Sword in The Wind Waker, Link locates and hauls up all eight shards of the Triforce of Courage from the sea. After he acquires all eight pieces and prepares to face Ganon, the reassembled Triforce of Courage absorbs into his hand. He is then declared the Hero of Winds.
When assembled, the Triforce allows the owner to make and be granted as many wishes as they want, which usually last until they die or the wish is fulfilled. It will remain with the user until they send it away or have it taken from them, as explained in A Link to the Past. As shown in A Link to the Past, there are certain items, such as the Moon Pearl, which can resist the effects of the Triforce; in that game, the Moon Pearl prevents Link from being transformed into a rabbit while in the Sacred Realm. In A Link to the Past, Ganon has obtained the completed Triforce, and has wished upon it to rule Hyrule. However, his imbalanced heart changes the wish, and instead of Hyrule he rules a Sacred Realm which has become a dark version of Hyrule, where, among other things, all inhabitants are beasts. At the end of the game, Link defeats Ganon and takes the Triforce from its resting place. The spirit of the Triforce explains its powers, and Link then wishes for the acts of Ganon to be reversed (such as the corruption of the Sacred Realm and the death of Link's uncle).
In Ocarina of Time, set before A Link to the Past, the attainment of the complete Triforce is Ganondorf's primary goal, to attain control of Hyrule. Though he reaches the Triforce in the Sacred Realm, his heart is imbalanced and the Triforce splits, leaving him with the Triforce of Power and forcing him to gather the other two carriers whom are "chosen by destiny", Link and Princess Zelda, and take the other pieces from them. Though he succeeds in bringing them to him, they are able to fight him off and, along with the Sages, seal him within the Sacred Realm.
In The Wind Waker, set after Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf manages to escape from the Sacred Realm, and his search for the new Princess Zelda and her Triforce of Wisdom sets in motion the plot events. At the end of the game, he succeeds in bringing Princess Zelda and the new Link to his castle, and unites the pieces into the completed Triforce; however, before he can touch it and make his wish to rule Hyrule, King Daphnes of Hyrule touches it and wishes for Hyrule to be completely destroyed, and for Zelda and Link to be given a prosperous future.
In the television cartoon adaptation of The Legend of Zelda, only the Triforce of Wisdom and the Triforce of Power are featured. As in The Legend of Zelda, the Triforce of Courage is neither mentioned nor seen. In these appearances, the Triforces were not golden triangles, but made instead of shimmering colored jewels. The Triforce of Wisdom was emerald green, and the Triforce of Power was ruby red. Both Triforces floated upside-down over a pedestal, and both were capable of sentient thought and speech. The Triforce of Wisdom spoke frequently, always with a feminine voice and in rhyme. The Triforce of Power chose to speak only once, and when it did it was in the vernacular with a masculine voice. Although both Triforces possessed considerable magical ability, the Triforce of Power contains infinitely more than the Triforce of Wisdom. Its power was only showcased once in the entire series (when it exhibited the ability to destroy an otherwise indestructible magic bubble), where as the power of the Triforce of Wisdom was depicted in several episodes. Interestingly, the Force Gems featured in Four Swords Adventures and multiplayer mode of "Phantom Hourglass" bear a striking resemblance to the Triforce as depicted here.
In the cartoon television series Captain N, characters from The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link appeared four times, but the Triforce appeared only in one episode. The Triforce of Power and the Triforce of Courage were stolen at the beginning of the show but were returned by the end of the episode. The Triforce of Wisdom remained with Zelda and occasionally gave advice by talking through Zelda. The Triforces were made of some sort of Jewel with gold on the interior and each piece was engraved with the first letter of its name.
Appearances in other Nintendo games
The Triforce is Link's symbol in Super Smash Bros. It returns as his symbol in both Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and is also used as the symbol for Zelda, Sheik, Young Link, Toon Link, and Ganondorf. There are three structures in Zelda/Sheik's Target Test that look like the Triforce. The Triforce is also the goal in the second side-scrolling level in Adventure mode, the Underground Maze. In the third game in the series, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the "Triforce Slash" appears as Link's "Final Smash" attack, as he traps the enemy between two Triforce symbols and relentlessly slashes at them. The Triforce crest also appears on Link's hand during the opening prologue. Another character in Brawl, Toon Link (modeled after Link in The Wind Waker and Phantom Hourglass and also in Spirit Tracks) also uses the Triforce as his symbol and Final Smash, albeit in a cartoony, cel-shaded style.
In Animal Crossing: Wild World, the Triforce is a furniture item. When used, it separates and assembles in mimicry of the opening to A Link to the Past. In both the original Animal Crossing and Wild World, Katrina, the fortune teller, has the Triforce symbol emblazoned in the far back of her tent. However, it is barely visible in Wild World with her recently discarded crystal ball in front of it.
In Kirby Super Star, The Great Cave Offensive required Kirby to collect treasures while escaping from a vast cave. The final treasure is the distinctively Zelda-like Triforce. In the more recent Kirby: Canvas Curse, a minigame involving joining dots to form images features a Triforce-shaped image.
In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the Triforce is an unlockable bumper sticker image. It shows on the top of your ship if your Wii console has The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess save data. This must be purchased using friend vouchers sent by registered Wii friends.
Usage outside of video games
The Triforce symbol has a long history outside The Legend of Zelda series. The Austrian ski maker Fischer Sports and the Japanese Energy company Mitsuuroko (三つ鱗, three scales) uses the logo, as did the Late Hōjō clan for its crest. Kotaku believes that the Triforce symbol was a natural fit for a common symbol, similar to how Western games used crossed swords as symbols.
Isaiah Triforce Johnson waited in line for the release of several Nintendo video game consoles and legally changed his name to include the word "Triforce."
- Cuddy, Luke. The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy : I Link Therefore I Am. New York: Open Court, 2008. Ebook Library. Web. 29 Jul. 2013.
- Christensen, Matt (July 2008). "What's In Your Travel Bag?". WWE Magazine. p. 49.
- Smash Bros. DOJO!!
- YouTube - Super Smash Bros Brawl