This story is six years in the making, and it involves Zelda, Star Fox, another fox, College Humor, Netflix, Nintendo and Adam Conover. Let’s get into it:
In February 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported Nintendo was putting together a live-action adaptation of the Legend of Zelda series for Netflix, described as “Game of Thrones for a family audience.” The information came from an anonymous source close to the project. Other outlets covered the report, too — but a Zelda Netflix show never materialized.
Over the years, video game fans chalked it up to a crack in the rumor mill and moved on.
On Februrary 1st, 2021, YouTube channel The Serf Times published an interview with Adam Conover of Adam Ruins Everything, wherein Conover drops some gossip from his time at College Humor in the 2010s. Twitter user @supererogatory first called out the juicy bits:
Apparently, College Humor was planning a claymation skit combining Star Fox and Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto even came to the office to talk through the details. According to Conover, the project was canceled about a month later, and he asked his boss what happened.
Conover recalled the boss saying, “Oh, someone at Netflix leaked the Legend of Zelda thing. They weren’t supposed to talk about it. Nintendo freaked out ... and they pulled the plug on everything. They pulled the plug on the entire program to adapt these things.”
So, the live-action Zelda Netflix series was actually real.
Nintendo is notoriously protective of its IP, and it doesn’t easily lend out its franchises to third parties, which is one reason the Zelda Netflix rumors were such a big deal. According to Conover, the Netflix leak pushed the company further into its shell.
There’s a hungry audience for video game-related content on Netflix, as demonstrated by the Castlevania, Resident Evil and Sonic animated shows, and The Witcher live-action and anime series. With the Zelda franchise hitting its 35th anniversary this year, it’d be fitting for Nintendo to give Netflix — or any other streaming service — another chance. We’ll believe it when we see it, though.