Long ago, in the halcyon days of pixels and wired controllers, an instruction manual was a treasure. Within its pages, you could discover tantalizing tidbits of backstory, admire beautiful character art, and pick up all kinds of useful gameplay tips.
But while perusing these manuals was often a joy, they occasionally revealed more of a character than anyone wanted to see.
In the instruction manual for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link wears a tunic, and nothing more. There are no flesh-colored leggings, no modesty-protecting shorts, and no attempts to keep undergarments covered. Whether he’s smashing a pot, swinging a sword, or simply sitting under a tree, he consistently throws caution to the wind.
An aversion to dungarees is a strange trait for an adventurer, but what really makes Link stand out is his exhibitionism. He never bothers to tug down his tunic or cross his legs before he sits. In some shots, it doesn’t even look like he’s wearing underwear.
While casting a flasher in the role of a hero would be a unique — if slightly unorthodox — story choice, it seems far more likely that Link’s pantlessness is the result of a coloring error. His outlandish poses make a lot more sense if you adjust his legs to match the tight-fitting trousers he wears in the Adventures of Link manual.
But if Link’s lack of pants was a mistake, nobody caught it. A Link to the Past‘s manual art was re-used time and time again, appearing in Nintendo Power, on an official map of Hyrule, and on various promotional materials. It even cropped up in the instructional manual for Link’s Awakening.Of course, it’s perfectly possible that Link’s lack of pants wasn’t an error at all. He appeared sans pants in the manuals for the original Zelda and Ocarina of Time, though he was considerably shorter in both cases. And even though Link typically wears pants in The Legend of Zelda cartoon, he’s been known to fight Moblins without putting them on.
Although we’ve seen many incarnations of Link over the years, his sartorial choices have largely remained the same. Whether he’s a shapeshifter, a time traveler, or a conductor of trains, he rarely strays away from his green tunic and elf-like hat. He’s only willing to step outside the box when pants are involved. The guy should probably buy some longer tunics — or invest in a pair of bicycle shorts — but considering his limited wardrobe, I’m willing to cut him some slack. Or slacks.