1989's Zelda Cartoon's Writer Enlisted Family Member's Help When Writing Certain Episdoes
You're Excused Link
While most everyone is familiar with 1989’s The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, we tend to hear less about another similar show from the same time centering around The Legend Of Zelda. Recently thanks to a substancial interview done by Polygon, we got a pretty good look into how the Zelda show came to be.
Due to the newness of the Zelda franchise at the time, there wasn’t a whole lot for the writers to work with, other than the big elements featured in the first two games, mainly Link, Zelda, Gannon, and the Triforce. This led to writers reaching out to their family members for ideas, with one writer’s sister even writing a whole episode for the show.
My brother somehow ended up suggesting I try writing an episode, and I was able to turn out a couple of scripts that, with his editing, ended up getting used. I was about 16-17 at the time. The only direction I had was the show bible, which outlined the basic characters and sorts of stories they were looking for. 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. But the basic relationships were all established in the show bible; Ganon bad guy, Zelda tough girl, Link charming scamp, Triforce MacGuffin, etc. I did play Dungeons & Dragons though, at the time, and some of that feel made it into the show. [The seventh episode] “Doppelganger” was based on a cursed mirror in D&D. Well, 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.
Eve and I were just writing them on our own. We even had my mom pitch a story. She wrote something that we ended up having to do a lot of work on, but it wasn’t a bad initial concept. [Bob and Eve’s mom, Marsha Forward, had her script adapted as The Legend of Zelda’s 11th episode, “Fairies in the Spring.”]
Its quite interesting to see that writers were given so much freedom involving the plotlines in these episodes, but not too surprising given how new the Zelda franchise was at the time. It certainly was less in-depth than it is now, with its many branching timelines and different incarnations of the Hero of Time. The full article reveals many more details surrounding the show, and is worth a read for a look behind the curtain of how it came to be.