One of the most well loved and enduring of Nintendo's video game franchises The Legend of Zelda last month celebrated its 30th Anniversary, marking the birthday of the Legend of Zelda which released February 21, 1986 for the NES.
And over the thirty years of history which encompasses the series there's been plenty of discussion around the particulars, and from said discussion springs forth the fan theories. One theory which has been around since way back in 1998 and The Ocarina of Time is that of the Tetraforce, and it posits that everything we've known and fought for all these years is a lie, a sham, naught but a falsehood.
The Tetraforce Theory
So this conspiracy-like theory posits that there are in fact four pieces of the Triforce in existence, not three. "Wait what?" I hear you cry. Yep, the Tetraforce theory claims that there is a fourth piece kicking around out in the world somewhere, it's just that no-one has found it yet.
It all sprung from the fact that the design of the Hylian shield in Ocarina of Time features not three but four golden triangles, one left apart from the others. According to the theory the missing piece fits into the centre of the Triforce, fully completing the triangle.
But... Triforce Means Three, Right?
Well, not according to this theory. Though it's generally accepted that the name Triforce refers to the fact that there are three pieces, the Tetraforce theory claims that the "tri" in "Triforce" in fact refers to the triangular shape of the pieces rather than the number of them.
This *could* be supported by the fact that way back in the first Legend of Zelda we only knew that two pieces of the Triforce existed, and yet they were still referred to as the Triforce pieces. The third piece wasn't introduced until the following year in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Hmm...
Three vs Four
It's no secret that the number three has a significance to the series, from the traditional three dungeons which make up the former part of the games to the three Pendants of Virtue, Spiritual Stones and Goddesses Pearls.
But the number four has a presence too, with the Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures, the four elements in The Minish Cap, the four giants and landscapes in Majora's Mask and of course, the four light spirits in Twilight Princess: Eldin, Lanayru, Faron and Ordona.
The light spirits are an interesting one, because they each seem to correspond to one of the goddesses (Eldin - Din; Lanayru - Nayru; Faron - Farore) except Ordona (although it has been argued that Ordona refers to the latter half of Farore rather than to a separate goddess entirely).
The Fourth Goddess
This leads us onto the meat of the theory. We all of course know that each piece of the Triforce was created by one of the Golden Goddess - Din, the Goddess of Power; Nayru, the Goddess of Wisdom; and Farore, the Goddess of Courage - after they created the Hyrule and departed for the Sacred Realm.
But what if there are four pieces? Well surely the existence of a fourth piece would point to the existence of a fourth goddess, the one which would also link up with Ordona?
In Majora's Mask a fourth goddess is referenced by Princess Zelda, who wishes for the Goddess of Time to watch over Link as he ventures forth from Hyrule, and again by Tatl when confronting Skull Kid. Exactly who and what the Goddess of Time refers to is never fully cleared up in the series, leading to speculation that this is the fourth Goddess.
However other proponents of the theory suggest that the fourth goddess could in fact be Zelda herself, which isn't too crazy an idea when you remember that Skyward Sword told us that she's a reincarnation of the goddess Hylia, and in Wind Waker Zelda goes by the name Tetra.
Whilst this all sounds pretty interesting, and would certainly be useable as a concept in coming games, both Nintendo and series creator Shigeru Miyamoto have denied the existence of the Tetraforce. The fourth triangle on the Hylian shield was also removed from the design for later games because apparently we can't be trusted not to run complex theories out of small design choices.
So, like the majority of fan theories, the Tetraforce is more of a fun little thing for fans to speculate about rather than the uncovering of a vast conspiracy. C'est la vie.
At least we have the upcoming The Legend of Zelda Wii U to entertain ourselves with instead, but if you want to learn more about the Tetraforce theory you can check out the full run down from the Zelda Wikipedia here.