Legend of Zelda cartoon writers reveal D&D influences

I may be biased, but I really feel that 1989 was a great year (I am biased because it was the year I was born). But, aside from my arrival in the world, it was also a great year because it was the year that the Legend of Zelda cartoon aired.

Now, I know what you are thinking: “Victoria, why would you care about this? You would have been a newborn when this cartoon was playing on TV and therefore have no idea what was happening. You were probably just learning what your hand was or experiencing mashed potatoes for the first time.”

This is very true. I was. But I’m also a huge Legend of Zelda fan, and that means as soon as I was aware of the existence of the Zelda cartoon, I tracked it down and watched it for myself. And then, when I had children of my own, I watched it again with them on YouTube. It was a family affair and, as it turns out, having this series become a bit of an ongoing family affair was also a theme during the cartoon’s conception. How’s that for a segue?

The next Zelda game, Tears of the Kingdom, is set to release this May.

Speaking to Polygon, writers and siblings Bob and Eve Forward shared some fun anecdotes about their time workong on the Zelda cartoon, including influences for various episodes.

Eve, who was “about 16-17 at the time” was roped into writing for the show by her brother. “I didn’t have a Nintendo, so I rented one, and the game, and tried to play it, but I didn’t get very far,” she reflected.

However, thanks to a “show bible” that provided an outline of who these characters were and their dynamic with each other (“Ganon bad guy, Zelda tough girl, Link charming scamp, Triforce MacGuffin, etc.”) Eve was able to take some of her own passions and use them as inspiration for the episodes she was now tasked with writing.

“[The seventh episode] ‘Doppelganger’ was based on a cursed mirror in D&D,” Eve revealed.

“The monsters in Zelda were all based on things from the Nintendo game; same with the weapons, like Link’s boomerang. But in D&D of course you’re always fighting monsters and imagining how cool your character looks doing it, so a lot of the various swashbuckling stuff I liked to put in was based on things that had happened in our D&D games.

“I always thought of Link as more of a rogue than a fighter,” she shared.


Princess Zelda in 1989’s cartoon series.

But it wasn’t just his sister that Bob went to for a source of writing inspiration. Even his mother, Marsha Forward, got involved.

“She wrote something that we ended up having to do a lot of work on, but it wasn’t a bad initial concept,” Bob revealed.

This concept from Bob and Eve’s mother eventually became the series’ eleventh episode ‘Fairies in the Spring, which was centred around a Hylian water park for the king (actually). You can see it, and Marsha’s credit, in the video below.

Fairies in the Spring (episode 11, via GamePlayersUniverse).

I now want to go and rewatch the cartoon again, with this new knowledge in mind. I kind of love that the Forward family bonded over its creation.

Meanwhile, 2023 is set to be a promising year for Legend of Zelda fans, thanks to the long-awaited arrival of Tears of the Kingdom.

The sequel to Breath of the Wild is due to release on 12th May for Nintendo Switch. If you want to read more about mine and Ed’s thoughts about the game’s latest trailer (which you can see in the video above), you can check out our very excited chat about it here.

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