The Legend of Zelda
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Strong female heroine stands out in decent '80s cartoon.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.
Kids see Link and Zelda, who are hardly the best of friends, set aside their differences and unite for the sake of their kingdom. Although Link fancies himself Zelda's protector, she's no slouch in battle and proves she can hold her own alongside him, even saving his bacon a time or two. Good and evil face off time and again, but the lines of allegiance are clearly drawn, and there's no question as to whose motivations are honorable.
Positive Role Models
Zelda is resourceful, fearless, and civic-minded, always putting the safety of the kingdom and the Triforce ahead of concerns for her own safety. What's more, she's resolute against Link's persistent efforts to corner her for a kiss. For his part, Link always rises to the occasion where protecting Zelda and the Triforce is involved, but his sarcasm and hovering give him an irritating side.
Violence & Scariness
Some hand-to-hand fighting, but more use of weapons such as a bow and arrow, explosive boomerangs, and enchanted swords. Link's sword emits a ray that zaps his opponents, making them disappear, but there aren't any injuries to speak of.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A recurring plot point is Link's persistence in his attempts to steal a kiss from Zelda (which he feels he earns by saving her life), but she keeps him at bay.
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Ganon is known to call his minions names such as "idiot." "Shut up" is common as well.
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Products & Purchases
The series was inspired by an '80s video game.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Legend of Zelda is an '80s cartoon that centers on a likable female heroine who prefers to be in on the action rather than waiting in the wings for protection from her male counterpart. Indeed this is no damsel in distress, and she follows up by standing firm against his repeated efforts to claim a kiss he feels he earns by coming to her aid. Each episode follows a villain's new attempt at stealing a powerful magical object, which leads to fighting between the two sides, but there are no injuries or deaths to speak of. There is some name-calling ("idiot," for instance) and similar language ("shut up") that you may not want your kids repeating.
Where to Watch
Based on 2 parent reviews
Legend of the Holy Grail - PG13 - Review (Logan Lerman, Sean Bean, Natalie Portman)
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Good, But Only For Cheesy Zelda Fun
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What's the Story?
THE LEGEND OF ZELDA tells the story of the tug-of-war over the powerful Triforce of Wisdom entrusted to Princess Zelda (voiced by Cyndy Preston) and coveted by the evil sorcerer Ganon (Len Carlson), who already owns the Triforce of Power. Link (Jonathan Potts) is Zelda's resident hero who comes to her aid when Ganon and his minions attempt to steal the Triforce or kidnap her. Together with the fairy princess Spryte (Tabitha St. Germain), these saviors of Hyrule must fend off one attack after another to keep the kingdom's people safe from Ganon's nefarious plans.
Is It Any Good?
Based on an '80s video game, The Legend of Zelda is a mostly formulaic 13-part series with few surprises that's equally short on worrisome content for kids. The good-versus-evil plot yields many conflicts with some tepid violence, but, because injuries are rare and the characters simply disappear rather than dying in the traditional sense, it's not likely to upset even younger kids.
Probably the most notable aspect of the story is the testy relationship between Link and Zelda, which is so unusual for this genre that it's almost comical. Not only is Zelda strong and defiant in her own right, which challenges traditional gender roles, but viewed against Link's relative neediness -- and his inability to take "no" for an answer on the kissing issue -- she often comes across in a more favorable light. Especially given that this series is more than two decades old, it's a surprising win for female heroines.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about heroes and heroines. Who is the hero in this story? Does it change with different episodes? Could either Link or Zelda succeed against Ganon on his or her own? Why or why not?
Kids: Zelda and Link have an important responsibility to the people of their kingdom. What responsibilities do you have at home and at school? What are the repercussions of not fulfilling your duties? How does this affect people other than you?
How does the violence in this show compare to what you see in more modern shows? Have you ever watched a series or movie with violence that scared you? Could these kinds of exchanges happen in real life?
Why does Link continue to pester Zelda for a kiss after she's said no? What would you do if something like this was happening to you in real life? Is it OK for someone to continually ask you to kiss or hug them after you've said no?
- Premiere date: September 8, 1989
- Cast: Cyndy Preston, Jonathan Potts, Len Carlson
- Networks: NBC, Online
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 26, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Watch
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