A new installment in the Zelda franchise has finally arrived, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. As any true Nintendo fan knows, a new game means it’s time to delve into the ever-convoluted Zelda Timeline. However, I didn’t play the game yet, at the time of this recording, so some key facts about Tears of the Kingdom and how it may connect to the timeline won’t be covered in this video. Anyway, the Zelda timeline timeline is far from simple. Unlike other franchises that follow a basic straight line, the Zelda Timeline splits at one point, creating three separate yet equally important timelines.
To better understand the timeline, let’s start at the very beginning. According to legend, three goddesses – the Goddess of Power, the Goddess of Wisdom, and the Goddess of Courage – created the world and left behind the powerful Triforce. They entrusted it to Hylia, a young goddess. Then, a catastrophic event shook the earth. The Demon King Demise and his horde of demons, who sought the triforce, emerged from a fissure and attacked the people. In an effort to protect them, Hylia made a portion of the people ascend into the sky and stayed to fight. Although Hylia was able to defeat Demise, she was badly injured and passed on her Godly Powers to start a cycle where she would be reincarnated as the one destined to protect the Triforce from Evil for all time.
Fast forward to the first actual game in the timeline – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Link, the reincarnated version of Hylia’s chosen Champion, is tasked with saving Zelda, the reincarnation of Hylia from the demon lord Ghirahim. With the power of the Goddess Sword, Link is able to travel in time.
Ghirahim manages to tap into Zelda’s power, releasing Demise into the past, restoring him to his humanoid form. And so Link fights the Demon King, many millennia before the events of Skyward Sword, during a time when Skyloft had only recently been sent skyward by Hylia.
Link emerges victorious but at a heavy price. Demise, with his dying breath, curses the descendants of both Link and Zelda, swearing that his burning rage will be reborn time and again, relentlessly pursuing and annihilating any with the blood of the goddess and the spirit of the hero. Thus, the curse spawns an unending cycle, with both Zelda and Link forever bound to it. Meanwhile, Demise’s malevolence endures, never to be truly vanquished. Keep in mind that everything that comes next is a direct result of the Demon King’s Curse.
The second game within the timeline is The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. This game, taking place entirely within the borders of Hyrule, follows Link reincarnated and tasked with saving the world once more. This time, our hero gets his hands on the Light Force, a powerful artifact that’s a bit different from the Triforce to defeat the evil mage Vaati. He also dons a unique hat that doubles as a bird, making for a strange but interesting adventure. Following this was the direct sequel, The Four Swords, which didn’t add much to the overall timeline. What makes Four Swords Adventure different is the Four Sword itself, allowing Link to create three copies of himself. Also, Vaati appears once more and kidnaps Zelda.
Finally, we reach The Ocarina of Time, the game that many consider to be the most iconic in the entire franchise. Here, we see the classic story of a hero setting out to rescue a kidnapped princess from the clutches of evil. However, this time the journey takes us across not just the land of Hyrule, but also through time itself. As the game progresses, we see Link grow from a young boy to an adult, taking on Ganondorf and other tough enemies. What’s interesting about this game is that it’s the point where the timeline splits into three possible outcomes. The first timeline, known as the Fallen Hero timeline, is perhaps the darkest of them all.
Here, we see the classic story of a hero setting out to rescue a kidnapped princess from the bad guy. However, this time the journey takes us across not just the land of Hyrule, but also through time itself. As the game progresses, we see Link grow from a young boy to an adult, taking on Ganondorf and other tough enemies. What’s interesting about this game is that it’s the point where the timeline splits into three possible outcomes. The first timeline, known as the Fallen Hero timeline, is perhaps the darkest of them all.
In the “Fallen Hero” timeline, we see a bleak outcome where Link fails to defeat Ganon, which allows Ganon to claim all three pieces of the Triforce. Though Zelda and the sages manage to seal him away, darkness falls on Hyrule again, leading to the events of A Link to the Past. This game, in turn, had a direct sequel, Link’s Awakening, which took place on the mysterious Koholint Island. Here, Link was tasked with waking the Wind Fish, a being that had dreamed the island into existence. Waking him up, however, meant destroying the island and its inhabitants, making for a difficult choice.
Moving on, we have the Oracle of Ages and the Oracle of Seasons, two games that could be played interchangeably and linked together. Here, Link takes on Twinrova, Ganon’s surrogate mothers, who seek to reincarnate their dark lord through foul means. Following these games, the Triforce shatters into three once again.
The next game in the Fallen Hero timeline is A Link Between Worlds, Link discovers an alternate version of Hyrule after being tasked by Hilda, who is basically this version’s equivalent of Zelda, to find the sages and defeat Yuga, an evil wizard. However, it is later revealed that Hilda is actually the one who sends Yuga to Hyrule in the first place, all in an attempt to claim the Triforce, as her own triforce had been lost.
Following his adventures in Triforce Heroes, Link reincarnates again and returns to the roots of the franchise with the original Legend of Zelda, which, despite its massive influence on gaming as a whole, didn’t offer much in terms of plot. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link was a little different, featuring side-scrolling gameplay as opposed to the original’s top-down view.
With that, we move on to the child timeline, where Link was sent back in time to his child form. He takes the knowledge he learned to a young princess Zelda, allowing them to thwart Ganondorf’s plans early. The first game in this timeline was the iconic Majora’s Mask, in which Link finds himself trapped in a time loop, reliving the same three days over and over again while attempting to prevent the catastrophic collision of the moon with the land of Termina.
Many years after the events of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, we find ourselves in Twilight Princess. In this game, a resurrected Ganondorf finds himself banished to the Twilight Realm for his wrongdoings, only to then overthrow Midna, the Twilight Princess, and take control. Link, the Hero of Twilight, helps Midna defeat Ganondorf and regain control of the Twilight Realm. Along the way, Link encounters the Hero’s Spirit, a skeletal figure who imparts valuable skills and knowledge to the young hero. As it turns out, the Hero’s Spirit is actually the spirit of the Hero of Time himself, the very same Link of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
And now we come to the end of the Child timeline with Four Swords Adventures, a title that may not have contributed significantly to the franchise’s canon, but it did introduce some cool gameplay elements. Although its name implies a direct follow-up to Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures takes place much later in the timeline, specifically towards the conclusion of the Child timeline
Now we venture into the adult timeline, where the Hero of Time mysteriously vanishes after defeating Ganon. His disappearance leaves the world vulnerable, as Ganon eventually returns. Since our hero is nowhere to be found, the gods are forced to take drastic measures and flood the planet to seal Ganon.
This creates a world where only the highest peaks remain above water, setting the stage for The Wind Waker. In this game, Link and Tetra, who is actually the reincarnation of Zelda, team up to take on Ganon and save what’s left of the world. Following Wind Waker is the direct sequel, Phantom Hourglass, where Link and Tetra continue their quest, venturing across the vast Great Sea in search of a new land to call Hyrule. Eventually, they succeed in founding a new kingdom, and a century later, we find ourselves in Spirit Tracks, where Link and the spirit of Zelda travel through the land of New Hyrule to stop the Demon King Malladus. Yes, not Ganon. The identity of Demon King Malladus is a subject of much debate in the Zelda community.
And so, that’s the entire official Zelda timeline. You may have noticed that a few games are not featured in the official timeline. Of course, I could only be talking about the Zelda games of all time, the CDI games: Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon! All jokes aside, Spinoff titles are not considered canon, and have no place in the official timeline. That includes the Warriors Games and the beloved CDI games. This brings us to Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, two mainline Zelda games that remain unaccounted for. The one thing we know for sure is that the events of these games take place in the far future.
One of the most popular fan theories is that the three timelines converge at some point before the events of Breath of the Wild, known as the “Unified Timeline.” This idea gains support from the similarities that these games share with all three timelines, such as references to races unique to certain timelines. It’s an intriguing concept, and while there is no official confirmation from Nintendo, it’s a plausible explanation for the strange connections between the games. However, it’s still difficult to say for sure, as the timeline is already complex enough.
Anyway, that’s all for this guide. If you want to learn more about new games and deals, make sure to visit ElectronicFirst. You will have some great deals at an amazing price at the website. We at Electronic First, we give you info on the latest games releasing. I’ll be seeing you guys in the next guide!