The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a polarizing entry in the franchise, but an area we can all agree on is Groose.
I’ve always believed Skyward Sword showed what the franchise could do in terms of storytelling. A large reason for the fantastic storytelling was Groose mainly because of how well he developed over the course of the game.
Additionally, Groose shines in his designated role, which is a young man who is exceptionally ordinary and, despite his aspirations, isn’t meant to be anyone world-changing. And still, Groose finds a way to lend his talents to those who are meant to change the world and ultimately helps them succeed through small means.
Sounds pretty relatable, right?
Groose deserves all the love we can give him. In fact, with the recent release of Skyward Sword HD, a whole new generation has come to love this character, one who I believe is the best in The Legend of Zelda franchise.
Warning: We will discuss Groose’s entire impact on The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. That means spoilers are ahead.
Synopsis: Understanding the History of Groose
Ahead of the wing ceremony, Link confronts Groose and his cronies Cawlin and Stritch for allegedly stealing his loftwing.
In this interaction, Groose shows he’s a bully toward Link. This comes from his jealousy toward Link for his close friendship with Zelda. His vanity and jealousy quickly make him unlikable as he’s already been a thorn in the side of Link.
Despite Groose’s best efforts, Link finds his loftwing and wins the wing ceremony. Zelda soon disappears to the surface world and Groose takes the loss really hard. He spends most of his time crying in his room at the Knight Academy.
Groose eventually follows Link to the surface and becomes terrified of the new world. Link calms him and, with his vanity still intact, decides the surface should be called “Grooseland” and he should be the one to find Zelda.
The Old Woman (later revealed as Impa) tells Groose he is not the one destined to save Zelda as that is Link’s fate. Groose, furious at this, storms out of the Sealed Temple.
After an encounter with The Imprisioned leaves Groose petrified with fear, he realizes that Impa is correct. Groose takes it a step further in saying he is useless despite Impa insisting that he does have a role to play.
At some point, Groose overcomes his depression and decides to help Link by building the Groosenator. This is a catapult on a minecart that follows a circular track around the Sealed Grounds. Groose mans this contraption as a way to slow The Imprisioned by launching bomb flowers at it, allowing Link to defeat it.
His inventions also helps Link enter a flooded Faron Wood as he launches Link into the forest.
Groose is next seen when Zelda wakes from her sleep that held back Demise. Groose is overjoyed to see her again and starts to cry. He then rushes to hug old Impa because of the perceived success.
Ghirahim then attacks the group, but Groose stands in his way at the Gate of Time though he is no match for the villain. Groose plays a small part in the game’s finale as he catches Zelda’s soulless body and provides Link encouragement to stop Demise.
After Link defeats Demise, Groose congratulates Link and Zelda, saying someday this story will be called “The Legend of Groose.” It is during this time that Groose finally appreciates his efforts in the events.
As Link, Zelda, and Groose return to the Sealed Temple, old Impa reveals her true identity and fades away into particles of light. Groose takes this the hardest as he drops to his knees on the verge of tears.
The last we see of Groose is him bidding farewell to Link and Zelda as he returns to the sky with Cawlin and Stritch.
Groose: A Relatable Hero
Groose is such an interesting character study. He enjoys, in my opinion, the greatest character arc in all of Zelda games. What’s makes it even more interesting his he’s not an integral character.
He doesn’t ever wield the Triforce and never reaches the involvement of Link or Zelda. He’s not an companion character like Fi or Impa and the players go long stretches without seeing Groose.
Honestly, he’s just high school student. So why is he so beloved and worthy of such a great character arc?
It is because he is the most relatable character in the game and maybe even the franchise.
Think about it. Most of us will never be the star of any given moment or profession. Many of will never be the Link or Zelda of anything. Heck, we’ll never be the Fi or Impa. If we ever choose to get involved in a cause, we’ll likely play the role of Groose.
Furthermore, Groose struggles with feelings of self-worth and depression, both insanely relatable challenges. If calamity ever happens near me, my response is to be Groose and ask myself, “What can I do?” or “Will it even matter?”
And yet, Groose still found a way to overcome that and help. In the grand scheme of things, the Groosenator pales in comparison to the Master Sword or the Triforce, but that’s ok because it didn’t need to be those things.
Groose’s small attempts at helping proved to be the difference-maker in multiple fights with The Imprisioned and helped Link on his journey. This is relatable because our efforts in any world-changing calamity would likely be that of Groose: insignificant until the right moment.
We spend so much time controlling Link in The Legend of Zelda that we sometimes forget that we likely wouldn’t have the courage to be Link in those situations. We’d more likely be Groose and that’s ok. Groose reminds us that great things happen by small and simple means.
What could be more relatable than that?
Be Like Groose: Stay True to Yourself
One aspect I’ve always loved about Groose is he never lost who was throughout the game.
We meet a pompous meathead at the beginning of the game that had a lot of vanity. At the end of the game, we get a much nicer meathead with a little bit less vanity.
Groose’s character development, to me, was all about discarding his worse tendencies and bolstering his strengths.
Groose was driven. In the early parts of the game, he used his drive to steal Link’s loftwing and even follow Link to the surface in the hope of finding Zelda. By the end of the game, he used his drive to build the Groosenator, which was not an easy task, and stay with old Impa to help her.
It’s the same character trait, but it was initially misplaced. Groose, whether knowingly or not, took that strength and applied it to a more worthy cause.
Another example of this is Groose’s heart. In my opinion, Groose only acted the way he did because he cared about certain people. He bullied Link because he had a misguided perception of care for Zelda.
He learned that he could still let his heart guide him, but only in appropriate ways. He came to care for Impa in a rather heartwarming way. He stayed by her side in the same way that a child cares for their aging parents. At the end of the game, it was Groose who took Impa’s death the hardest.
Groose cared a lot about people and, by the end of the game, he learned how properly apply that love to any given situation.
The Exceptionally Ordinary Groose
As mentioned earlier, Groose was relatable because he was ordinary. Being ordinary extends beyond making him relatable.
Groose provides the player a glimpse at what the grand adventure looks like from an ordinary person. Sure, Groose is more involved than the everyman, but his lack of any special abilities makes him a good pair of glasses to view Link’s journey.
Whenever I play Skyward Sword, I get swept up in the grand adventure. Whenever I interact with Groose, however, I find myself brought back to earth with glimpses of my quest through the eyes of someone who doesn’t have the abilities and burdens my character does in the game.
I say glimpses because this is a point that is never fully fleshed out, but the sprouts are there. The only other time I got a similar feeling is from the children in Twilight Princess after they’ve arrived in Kakariko Village.
There will always be an intrigue to view these stories through the eyes of the everyman. One of my favorite comic book stories is Marvels (1994). This four-issue miniseries offers a look at some of the biggest events in the Marvel Universe through the eyes of the everyman.
One particularly powerful panel shows how the citizens reacted when Galactus came to eat the world before the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer stopped him. While the superheroes did their thing, the citizens of New York were panicking with lines stretching far outside local churches as many went to confessionals or just to receive comfort.
While Groose doesn’t provide as powerful of a representation of the everyman, he does offer a foundation that maybe Zelda games could build on in the future.
The Future of Groose
Unfortunately, Groose doesn’t return after Skyward Sword. This means we can only speculate what happens to him.
Many think he went on to start the Gerudo and I could see that. Both have red hair and gold eyes though the eye color changes for the Gerudo by Breath of the Wild.
What we do know is Groose does return to the sky and the next game in the timeline is The Mnish Cap. In that game we see the Wind Tribe still living in the sky. This implies that settlement happened both in the sky and on the surface.
A shoutout to Chris and Pete at the Hello Hyrule podcast for pointing this next point out to me. In The Minish Cap, we come across an elderly member of the Wind Tribe named Gregal. He is sick in bed because a ghost cursed him. Link can defeat the ghost and Gregal makes a full recovery.
At one point, Gregal has some text that alludes to his personality. He says, “In my youth, I was called Gregal the Great! I was even a little famous…”
I bring this up because his personality seems similar enough to Groose, indicating there may be a relation. Furthermore, Gregal has a little tuft of red hair, potentially furthering the connection.
There is no concrete evidence, but it is fun to speculate.
One last potential relation could connect Groose with The Wind Waker. Tetra and her pirate crew play a big role in the game. Gonzo is Tetra’s first mate and he cares about Tetra and later Link.
I wouldn’t think twice about this except the pirate’s them music is really similar to Groose’s theme. There’s similar instrumentation and the melodies sound close so I naturally made a connection. Again, pure speculation as Groose and Gonzo only seem to share size as a similar characteristic.
That said, the two would be so far apart in the timeline that there could be less genetic connections at this point. If there is a relation, then that would make Alfonzo from Spirit Tracks part of the Groose family as well.
To make any of these connections, we would have to do some mental gymnastics since all these games came out before Skyward Sword. Still, I would love to hear what you think about Groose’s potential lineage.
The Groose is on the Loose
One of my favorite scenes with Groose is just after Ghirahim has kidnapped Zelda and plans to pass through the Gate of Time. As Ghirahim appears, Groose falls back terrified, reminiscent of his interaction with The Imprisioned.
Rather than allowing it to petrify him, he stands with his arms and legs outstretched as he shakily blocks Ghirahim’s way. The villain insults Groose and kicks him aside effortlessly.
This small moment captures just how far Groose has come in his journey. This man had no abilities and nothing that could remotely stand up to Ghirahim and yet he stood.
Why? Because he cared. He cared about Zelda, Impa, and Link. He cared enough to stand up when he knew he had no chance.
While not explicitly said, I believe this is pivotal because it put Groose on the other side of bullying. In this moment, Groose understood what it felt like to be bullied and to still stand up.
It was not that long ago that Link and Groose had that same interaction before the Wing Ceremony. Link, at the time, didn’t stand a chance against Groose and his cronies, and yet he still stood up to them.
This is the essence of Groose’s character development. Despite not discernable powers, he embodied what it meant to be a hero.
We can only speculate what happened to Groose as he returned home. What we do know is he returned a better person, having made an impact in the smallest of ways. And yet, we’re still talking about his impact years later.
Not bad for a vain meathead with an outrageous pompadour.
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