Artwork of Link fighting Shadow Link in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Nintendo Switch
|First appearance||Zelda II: The Adventure of Link|
|Latest appearance||The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Nintendo Switch)|
Shadow Link, alternatively known as Dark Link, is a shadowy, evil doppelganger of Link who shares his abilities and often mimics his actions. He first appears in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Shadow Link is usually a secret boss with a role unrelated to the main plot, though occasionally he has a larger role. He usually shares voice clips with Link but with pitch changes and distortions.
The Legend of Zelda series
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Shadow Link, originally known as Link's Shadow, appears as the surprise final boss. Throughout the game, Link's shadow would be prominently visible when each boss is defeated, and in the final room of the Great Palace, it comes to life to attack him. The reason for this is not stated in-game, and adaptations vary on it, with some treating it as a final test of character and others treating it as an evil spirit (even Ganon himself) attempting a last ditch effort to defeat him before he claims the Triforce of Courage. He moves and attacks very fast, making him quite dangerous. When defeated, he falls offscreen, and Link is given the Triforce of Courage.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Dark Link appears as the miniboss of the Water Temple. Midway through the dungeon, Link enters a mysterious room that seems to have endless mist instead of walls (with the doors appearing to have nothing behind them) and a small islet with a withered tree in the middle. Once Link walks across the island, Dark Link will slowly materialize. Once Link approaches him, the battle begins, and he will slowly become more solid-looking throughout. He can copy or counter most of Link's moves, and when Din's Fire is used, he moves out of the blast radius. However he has no defense against Link's stab attack. He has a tendency to leap onto Link's sword when he swings it, rendering Link helpless while he attacks. Sometimes when successfully attacked, he falls through the water on the floor and either rematerializes behind link or returns to the small island. Once he is defeated, the appearance of the room is revealed to be an illusion, and it becomes simple stonework.
In the original game, he is a solid black with red eyes. In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, he is shown with more details, inspired by some later appearances, and like Link, now sometimes idly twirls his sword when not attacking.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
In The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, Veran spawns four Dark Links to assist her when she turns into her Great Fairy-like form. They copy Link's movements in reverse, like Arm Mimics, though they have slightly more health.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Game Boy Advance)
In the Game Boy Advance version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, four sequential Dark Links appear as the last boss of the secret Palace of the Four Sword. They each have dark blue hair (contrasting Link's own pink hair) and wear clothes based on the player colors of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. Every time one is defeated, it does a spinning death animation like Link's, but with the deep reverberating "boss hit" noise. Each of the Dark Links has more health and moves than the previous one. After Link gathers the four parts of the Four Sword and reaches the center of the temple, the four swords levitate to each corner of the room, with one Dark Link spawning at a time. The first one, clad in green, charges around with the Pegasus Boots. Once he is defeated, another one, clad in orange (representing red) appears and attacks with the Hurricane Spin and occasional use of the Pegasus Boots. The third one, in blue, uses the Magic Cape to disappear whenever Link tries to attack him. Additionally, he can jump away like a Stalfos and jump and use a Downward Thrust into the ground, similar to the animation of using the Quake Medallion. The final, purple one can also leap away from Link, pound the ground, vanish, and do the Hurricane Spin, as well as shoot fireballs as though they were sword beams. Once they are defeated, the Four Sword is assembled and an alternate ending plays, showing various enemies' antics outside the Dark World dungeons, as well as the Dark World bosses.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Shadow Link is one of three primary antagonists alongside Vaati and Ganon, and the most prevalent of the three. He initially seems to be an individual, but it is soon revealed there is an increasing amount, with it eventually being revealed that Ganon is creating the Shadow Links using the Dark Mirror. The first one appears in the prologue, where it appears from the portal to the Four Sword's resting place and imprisoning Zelda and the Maidens in crystals. Link follows it back through and pulls the Four Sword to try and stop it, but is then blown away by Vaati.
In various levels, they can be found causing mayhem with different items, but can be defeated easily. However, when one pulls out a Big Bomb, the Links will need to hide underground immediately. Certain ones leap back and forth when approached and can only be harmed by getting into the Wide formation. Occasionally, when the Links get close enough to one, it will travel to the Dark World and escape by going off-screen. Sometimes, a stronger Shadow Link will be a miniboss, using its item to attack the Links and eventually impersonating one color. When this happens, only the Link of that color is capable of harming it. When it is defeated, all other Shadow Links in the area are also defeated. Occasionally, this one will go back and forth between the normal and Dark Worlds.
At the end of the Dark Cloud, the Links and Zelda find the Dark Mirror surrounded by respawning Shadow Links, which Zelda uses her sealing power on to prevent any more from spawning while the Links destroy the remaining Shadow Links. Once this is done, Zelda recovers the mirror, stemming the creation of Shadow Links for good.
Additionally, in the multiplayer mode "Shadow Battle," four Shadow Links looking like normal Links (but still using the distorted voice clips) act as the competitors.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Dark Link appears as the final opponent in the hardest difficulty of the Take 'em all on! challenge. He is capable of sword slashes, Spin Attacks, and rolls, and can also use bombs and arrows. Opposite of his appearance in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, he gets more transparent the more damage he takes. When defeated, he falls on his back and disappears in a puff of smoke.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Shadow Links are unique to the StreetPass battle mode. Players can equip various items to the Shadow Link that represents them for other players to battle.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
In The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, a trio of Shadow Links appear as the final opponent in the Den of Trials. Like many "dark" enemies there, they have the ability to give item-preventing curses to the Links; in their case, this is done through their swords. They are also very fast and persistent in their attacks.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Dark Link makes a cameo as a costume made by Kilton the monster enthusiast. After Link has saved all four Divine Beasts, Kilton will sell him the Dark Hood, Dark Tunic, and Dark Trousers for high prices. The effect is that people respond to Link's presence as though he were a monster (comparable to Wolf Link in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess), though this does not affect dialog nor does it fool any type of actual monster. Additionally, his movement speed at night goes up.
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Nintendo Switch)
Super Smash Bros. series
Super Smash Bros. Melee
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Link must fight Dark Link in the event match Lv. 18: Link's Adventure. Both of them have two stock. Dark Link acts the same as Link, and all of their differences are superficial. Dark Link uses Link's base model, except it is blacked out and has no texture. Dark Link is silent and does not use Link's voice clips. He is not available as an alternate costume for Link.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Dark Link is fought in two event matches, one of which is a co-op variation. In both of these appearances, Dark Link is straight black with red eyes. Starting with this game, both Link and Toon Link receive palette swaps resembling Dark Link. Link's is based on the interlopers from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess whereas Toon Link's is based on Shadow Link from The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures.
In Event Match 18: Dark Link Duel, like Super Smash Bros. Melee, Link is pitted in a fight against Dark Link, and it is the 18th event match. It takes place on the Bridge of Eldin, but it is a stamina battle rather than a stock one. The second, Co-Op Event 7: Battle of the Dark Sides, is the same as Dark Link Duel, but it has Dark Link paired with Dark Samus from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Link paired with regular Samus.
NES Remix 2
In NES Remix 2, one of the objectives is to defeat Shadow Link in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
In Hyrule Warriors, four Dark Links appear in Legend Mode at once, when Cia uses the darkness in Link's heart spawned by the overconfidence he feels from his use of the Master Sword. In addition to these, one of Cia's attacks involves spawning a Dark Link on each of her four sides to do a Spin Attack and disappear. "Dark" versions of Darknut and Aeralfos also appear as Captains in a Twilight Princess-themed scenario. Dark Link also appears as a DLC costume for Link, which is unlockable in later versions.
In Adventure Mode, "Dark" versions of various characters appear in a variety of situations, usually serving as a high-powered lesser Captain. In some cases, normal Captain types are shown with dark types too; this primarily occurs in the DLC maps.
In Hyrule Warriors Legends, Dark Cia additionally appears in Legend Mode, where she is spawned by Phantom Ganon to steal the remaining energy from Cia. A dark version of the Ocarina of Time King Dodongo is fought by Linkle in "The Other Hero," with it being invulnerable until her compass drives the darkness around it away.
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda
In Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda, Shadow Links appear as minibosses sometimes, starting with the crypt at Kakariko Village if the player chose to wake up Zelda first. They normally keep a shield up to prevent attacks from the front, and once they get close enough to the player will prepare a Spin Attack. By leaping away when they are about to perform the attack and returning immediately after to counterattack, the player can damage Shadow Links.
In the "All Characters" mode included in DLC for the digital release and in the base version of the physical release, Shadow Link is included as a playable character along with Shadow Zelda.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Player's Guide, recap section)
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda (enemy, pre-patch)
Names in other languages
Rinku no Kage
|Link's Shadow (Link no Bōken)|
Dark Link (Ocarina of Time and Hyrule Warriors)
Shadow Link (most games, including Famicom Remix 2)
Black Link (Spirit Tracks, Daisuke Shigoto manga adaptation of Link no Bōken)
- Unlike most enemies and despite being featured in an event match in two Super Smash Bros. titles, Dark Link does not appear as a trophy in any of the games nor as a spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
- M. Arakawa. NES Game Atlas. Page 74.
- Averill, Alan, Jessica Folsom, Erik Peterson, and Jacob Ward. The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition Player's Guide. Page 42.
- Hyrule Historia, page 109.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
|Playable characters and moves|
|Link||Bow • Boomerang • Spin Attack • Bomb|
|Zelda||Nayru's Love • Din's Fire • Farore's Wind • Transform|
|Sheik||Needle Storm • Chain • Vanish • Transform|
|Ganondorf||Warlock Punch • Gerudo Dragon • Dark Dive • Wizard's Foot|
|Young Link||Fire Bow • Boomerang • Spin Attack • Bomb|
|Non-playable characters||Dark Link • Four Giants • Like Like • Moon • Octorok • ReDead • Tingle • Turtle|
|Stages||Great Bay • Majora's Mask (Trophy Tussle 3) • Temple • Underground Maze|
|General items||Bunny Hood • Heart Container|
|Miscellaneous items||Deku Shield • Hookshot • Hylian Shield • Kokiri Sword • Lon Lon Milk • Master Sword • Triforce|
|Trophies||Goron • Marin • Majora's Mask • Ocarina of Time|
|Other||Gallery • Pre-release and unused content • Staff|