When someone mentions Princess Zelda, most people familiar with the series will conjure the image of a beautiful young woman decorated in regal clothing — a majestic, stoic figure of great power and compassion.
From time to time, however, the developers have toyed around with this convention. We saw Zelda depicted as a nieve young girl in Skyward Sword: just another denizen of Skyloft at the start. Breath of the Wild presented a much more battle-ready and emotional take on the classic hero.
But the first of these departures from the status quo began with Windwaker. The game was bold in more ways than one, many of which still divide the fan base today; yet the rebirth of an anxty pirate named Tetra into Princess Zelda was a shocking twist all remember.
In this article, I’ll be delving into what made this character so memorable, her significance within Wind Waker, and some interesting facts about her place within the timeline.
Mainly, I’ll add context to her story — which many may miss during their first play-through — and I’ll explain how she fits into the wider series lore.
Bottom Line Up Front
This article provides all you need to know about one of the series’ most fun and inventive characters: Tetra. If you’re in a rush, here’s a brief rundown of the most important parts.
- Tetra is a pirate captain who is unknowingly a reincarnation of Princess Zelda
- Link first meets her when she is captured by the Hemlock King, having gone on a mission to rescue her
- Towards the end of the game, Tetra is reborn as Princess Zelda and helps Link defeat Ganondorf
- Having defeated Ganondorf, she transforms to once again become Tetra, and she and Link venture forth in search of a new world
If you already know the character’s origins and just want to learn a few new tidbits, I encourage you to scroll down to both the Trivia and Facts and Frequently Asked Questions sections below.
Who is Tetra?
Tetra is not only a pirate but a leader of pirates. Excluding herself, she is in charge of six others: Mako, Gonzo, Nudge, Sanza, Niko, and Zuko.
Mako is the brains of the ship, Gonzo steers the ship and commands second rank, Nudge councils Tetra on decision-making and is physically the strongest; Sanza, master of persuasion, does all the talking, Zuko is the lookout, and Niko is the skivvy.
No matter their role or rank, all members are wholly devoted and respect Tetra’s authority: despite her young age, she has supplanted herself as a formidable but fair leader. During the initial events of the game, Tetra and her crew and in pursuit of an unprecedented treasure hidden beneath the great sea — an objective that soon takes a turn.
Regarding her appearance, she wears baggy white shorts, white wristbands, sandals, a blue vest, and a red neckerchief; she also carries a cutlass sword as her weapon of choice. While the art style has differed marginally in the games she’s featured in, her outfit has always remained the exact same.
Her personality is strict and assertive, though she is ultimately considered kind-hearted; she routinely tries to downplay helping Link or others as a selfish endeavor, when in reality, it was a selfless act.
It is revealed during the story that she is an orphan and that her mother was also a pirate, though it remains unclear what happened to her. While we don’t know much about Tetra’s mother, she is a crucial character in this character’s narrative arc.
Not only did Tetra inherit the ship and crew becoming the new pirate leader, but her mother also entrusted her with the Triforce of Wisdom, instructing her to guard it with her life. She keeps the treasure in a necklace, and the relevance of this artifact would not be revealed until the end of the game.
Ultimately, who we describe as Tetra could be considered two people — but that’s for discussion in the next few sections.
Involvement in Wind Waker: Summary
A lot happens during Wind Waker, and things can get a little blurry. Use this section to recap Tetra’s story once you’ve finished the game.
Tetra is the catalyst for the events of the first half of the game, and a major character going forward in the second half. Link first encounters her in the middle of her kidnapping at the hands of the Helmaroc King — a bird monster who is a servant of Ganondorpf.
He was sent out to search for and capture Princess Zelda with the instructions to deliver girls with blonde hair and pointed ears back to the Forsaken Fortress.
The events are spotted by Link and his sister, Aryll, as they gaze through a telescope atop a watch tower. The two siblings watch as Tetra’s crew engages with the beast, managing to score a lucky shot with a canon ball. Tetra falls into the Fairy Woods, and Link courageously ventures to find her.
Link manages to rescue her, but in the meantime, the Helmaroc has circled back and mistaken Aryll for Tetra, capturing her and taking her off to the fortress.
Feeling a sense of guilt, although reluctant to admit it, Tetra and her crew travel to save Link’s sister. He accompanies them, and despite their best efforts, Aryll remains out of grasp. The two-part ways after this, and it is some time before they meet again.
The Search for Nayru’s Pearl
They cross paths again during Link’s pursuit of Nayru’s Pearl — the last of the three Goddess Pearls he must obtain to access the Tower of the Gods. At this time, the pearl is in the possession of the water spirit Jabun, who has fled to a cave sealed by a stone blockade in an attempt to hide from Ganondorf.
Thanks to a tip-off from Quill, Link finds that the pirate crew is also trying to get their hands on Jabun’s treasure. Upon traveling to Windfall Island, he finds that Tetra and her crew have captured a local merchant and are stealing a stock load of bombs to break down the barricade to Jabun’s cave.
Link spies on the crew to learn the password for the cabin on the ship that contains the bombs, and even though Tetra spots him out of the corner of her eye, she merely winks at him and says nothing.
When Link does infiltrate the ship and steals the bombs, Tetra contacts him via the Pirate Charm, and despite her usual sarcastic tone, it’s clear she was expecting him to steal them. She gives him an ultimatum: if he can manage to get Nayru’s Pearl by the evening, he wins.
The next time we meet Tetra is when Link finally returns to the Forsaken Fortress to rescue his sister. Once he reaches the prison cell where Aryll is held captive, Tetra and two of her crewmates show up unexpectedly.
It transpires that it was they who drew the Helmaroc King away allowing him safe passage, and they unlock the cell gate allowing Aryll’s freedom. Amidst the conversations, Tetra notices with amazement that Link has the Master Sword in his possession, but she soon shrugs it off as impossible that he is the legendary hero. Little does she know, she too plays a large part in that story.
Tetra promises to return Aryll safely back to Outset Island while Link battles the Helmaroc King. Upon defeating it, Link is apprehended by Ganondorf himself and is soon joined by Tetra as she attempts to save him. Ganondorf captures Tetra in his grasp, and once he notices his Triforce power resonating with Tetra’s necklace, he realizes that she is, in fact, Princess Zelda.
Before this has time to sink in for either of them, the pair are swiftly rescued by members of the Rito Tribe and Valoo — the dragon Lord from Dragon Roost Island.
They are safely returned to the King of Red Lions, and he takes them to Hyrule Castle to explain Tetra’s true identity. Tetra denies this declaration at first, but once Red Lions transforms into Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule (the King of Hyrule) and connects the missing piece of Tetra’s necklace, she physically transforms into Princess Zelda. She loses her pirate clothes and instead now wears a purple dress and the royal crown. She is the true air to the throne and last in the bloodline.
She is instructed to wait within the sacrad chamber where it is safe while Link ventures out to restore the power to the Master Sword.
The Final Encounter
At the end of the game, Link faces off against Ganondorf atop Ganon’s tower. Despite best efforts to keep her hidden, Zelda has been captured by the dark lord and is found unconscious. He has stolen the pieces of the Triforce in Zelda’s possession and swiftly takes Link’s piece too.
Ganondorf summons the power of all three pieces creating the Triforce as a whole. Yet, the king miraculously appears and uses the power of the Triforce to sacrifice the old land of Hyrule to the sea so that Ganon cannot command it. A gigantic flood ensues that encapsulates the tower where the characters stand, and Zelda wakes up, Master Sword in hand to face Ganondorf.
The final fight between Link and Ganondorf ensues, with Zelda aiding in the background by temporarily stunning him so Link can take a free shot.
Following a grueling battle, the pair defeat him, impaling his skull with the Master Sword to kill him once and for all. He turns to stone and the pair stand together drenched, soon after being greeted once again by the King of Hyrule. He returns the pair to the surface, sacrificing himself to sink Hyrule and Ganondorf forever.
Once on the surface, Zelda has once more returned to her former self as Tetra. They are quickly spotted by the pirate ship and crew along with Aryll, Medli, and Makar, and as a group, they set sail for more future adventures as the leaders of the new world.
Where Does Tetra Fit Into The Zelda Timeline?
As we’ve discussed several times here on Legends of Z, each game in The Legend of Zelda series fits into an overarching timeline as outlined by an official hardback manuscript known as the Hyrule Historia (for more information on that topic, you can check out our other article Legends of Zelda Universe Guide and History).
With the timeline starting with Skyward Sword, Wind Waker represents one of the most unusual explorations of the timeline, making Tetra as a character one of the most interesting topics.
Tetra is a product of the Adult Era — a period encompassing a post-Ocarina of Time story that Link no longer exists in. In this scenario, Zelda sends Link back to his own time where he will be involved in the events of Majora’s Mask.
As such, the story of the Hero of Time becomes Legend: Ganon ultimately escapes from his imprisonment in this scenario, but when the people pray that the Hero of Time come and save them, he never appears because he doesn’t technically exist. This is the story explained during the introduction of Wind Waker.
The people appealed to the Gods as a last resort, and Ganon along with the entirety of Hyrule was sealed underwater, hence the appearance of the game world. Zelda ultimately escaped and retained a fragment of the Triforce as explained above.
Of course, this brings a lot into question. If Tetra is a descendant of Princess Zelda, this must also mean that her mother was. Nintendo has never officially addressed this point. There is no consensus on exactly how Tetra is a descendant of the Princess or why.
Of course, the events described in the prologue happened hundreds of years ago, and given that in this timeline Hyrule was lost to the sea; it makes sense that Tetra’s mother and her descendants would not have retained any resemblance to the royal family. Over the years, they took on a new life as pirates.
So, What Becomes of Tetra After Wind Waker?
Given that Tetra and Link venture off to create a new world as prophesied by the King’s final wish, the end of Wind Waker marks the New World Era — a continuation of the Adult Era as described in the Hyrule Historia. Link, Tetra, and the crew travel off to chart a new territory, and the new Kingdom of Hyrule is founded again in the new land above the sea.
These events cover Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks: both of which are Nintendo DS spinoff titles that serve as sequels to Wind Waker where these iterations of Link and Tetra feature. Link and Tetra engage in several adventures together in Phantom Hourglass as a continuation of their story together, though ultimately, the game doesn’t explore this era very deeply.
Trivia, Facts, and Other Appearances
Now that we know how Tetra came to be in her main story, as well as her relevance in the wider lore, let’s explore some interesting facts and her other appearances throughout other Nintendo IPs!
Tetra’s gun: Guns have characteristically never been a part of the series, but given Tetra’s status as a pirate, it makes sense that she might have one. While we never see her wield a ballistic weapon in Wind Waker, Tetra is a playable character in Hyrule Warriors and uses a flintlock pistol that shoots water bullets in conjunction with a cutlass.
Tetra’s appearance in Spirit Tracks: Tetra doesn’t appear in Spirit Tracks in the physical form, but we do see her depicted in the imagery. If you venture to Hyrule Castle, you’ll see her profile arranged into a stained glass window.
Super Smash Bros Brawl: In the Wii’s iteration of Smash, you can obtain a fully rotatable figurine of Tetra. The trophy comes with a brief description of what happens to her during the events of Wind Waker.
Tetra’s hairstyle: I always remember being a fan of the way fire and smoke spiraled into jagged polygonal swirls, and according to the Hyrule Historia, Tetra’s hair was modeled after these effects.
Tetra’s Mother: Tetra’s mother is only mentioned during the events of Wind Waker as she has already passed away by the time of the game. If the player ventures into the pirate ship’s main cabin, however, we can see a portrait of the late pirate captain hanging proudly on the wall.
The Pirate Crew: During Link’s time spent in the sunken version of Hyrule Castle, we can observe a large painting displayed prominently to the left of the emblazoned gold Triforce. The painting depicts Princess Zelda alongside six other individuals that bare an almost exact resemblance to Tetra’s pirate crew. It has been theorized that as well as Princess Zelda, the pirates also have their routes in royal ancestry, though in what capacity is unclear.
Question: Will we see Tetra as a main character in future titles?
Answer: Since Wind Waker, Tetra has made an appearance in other titles as we discussed. If she appears again in subsequent titles, likely, it’ll also be in this capacity: as a minor character in a spin-off title. Having already gone through her canonical ark as Princess Zelda, it would be unlikely we’ll see her appear as a main character in a mainline Zelda title.
It is entirely possible, and I’d venture likely, in fact, that we’ll see Tetra again at some point. As mentioned above, Nintendo has already explored the timeline involving the New World Era with Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, so I expect we won’t have seen the last of the character yet.
Nintendo is heavily focused and invested in the as-of-yet unclear timeline involving Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, but who knows — even though it’s unlikely, maybe the developers will seek to merch the timelines so that we see the new version of Hyrule expressed in a mainline title. If this happened, it would provide scope for Tetra’s return
Question: Why does Tetra’s personality change when she becomes Zelda?
Answer: Many people express this query, and I wondered why this was the case when I first played the game. When Tetra transforms into Princess Zelda, she does indeed become a more reserved, quieter character — a far cry from her usually more outspoken personality. Having replayed the game several times, though, I consider her changes to be due to shock.
The revelation that she is a royal descendant is a huge pill to swallow, and everything she knows about her life has now changed. I think the loss of her usual abrasiveness is down to the rapid maturation she had to go through with the change. Nevertheless, I’m in agreement with other fans that she lost a little too much of her original charm with the transformation.
Question: Why does Tetra’s skin change color when she transforms into Zelda?
Answer: A lot of fans have made the observation that Tetra’s skin changes from an olive complexion to one that is much paler or whiter in tone. I think there are a couple of likely reasons for this. Firstly, both Tetra and Zelda’s incarnations would have theoretically led very different lives.
Tetra is out on the seas in the sun all day, so it would make sense she’d have a sun tan; conversely, Zelda would spend more time out of the sun and in Hyrule Castle. Throughout history, it is also common to depict royalty with paler skin, and because Zelda is wearing makeup, this could also account for the change.
Tetra Zelda Guide: Conclusion
I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into Tetra. Why not check out our character articles such as Robbie BOTW Guide or Malon Zelda Guide, too? Again, don’t forget to check out our Legends of Zelda Universe Guide and History to gain a more foundational understanding of The Legend of Zelda universe. Have fun!