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The timeline is real, but do we really need it?

Joined
Jun 7, 2023
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This has been on my mind for quite a long time. I used to be one of those hardcore fans who could recite the entirety of the Zelda lore and timeline from the top of my head. I cared about each game's placement immensely and would spend hours trying to puzzle it all together. It was a lot of fun to be honest! A few months ago though, I revisited my childhood darling A link to the past. I really wanted to get back into the spirit of things (imo, the key to really enjoying its story is to not only talk to NPCs but also to read the manual first). As we all know though, the NoA translation wasn't exactly perfect, so I read a fan-translated version instead.

That's when it really hit me: the story and mythology for Alttp is a lot more interesting when you don't know about SS or Oot. It also makes much more sense and feels more cohesive. In many ways, it feels like Oot simply mirrors this event in an alternate reality (yes yes, Downfall timeline. Please don't get me started on that). I really prefer the idea of Ganondorf just being this greedy mysterious man of talent, who got so swayed by greed that he stumbled into the power of the gods. A mere thief who achieved demonic powers and immortality. Oot is a great story, but it abolishes the whole idea of Ganondorf betraying his own followers and managing to break into the sacred realm on his own. How the imprisoning war went down. How that Link isn't the one hero, just one of many that could've arisen from the bloodline of the Hylian knights. Which Alttp talks about. SS is a great story, but it turns this interesting chance event into destiny and making Ganondorf the embodiment of the literal devil in the Zelda universe. It also reinvents the Master Sword and its origin story which is cool in the context of Botw and Totk, but not as interesting for other titles.

I think the lore retains far more cohesion, and intrigue, if we simply pair Zelda games where it makes sense to do so. For example:

(SS, Botw, Totk)
(Oot child, MM, TP)
(Oot adult, TWW, PH, ST)
(Alttp, Oox, LA, Tloz, Taol)
(Albw, TFH) <- I have reasons for separating these
(TMC, FS, FSA)

There'd be "mirror events" across all universes. Basically events that will always occur in some shape or form. For example, I could argue that the imprisoning war is consistently mirrored (as seen in Alttp, Oot, Totk, FSA and Albw respectively).

I think embracing a proper multiverse of this nature would improve the series overall, instead of trying to cram it all into 2 or 3 timelines. I'd argue that plenty of things in the series already support the idea. World of the ocean king, Lorule and Termina are all parallel universes, not to mention the classic Oot split. What's your opinion on this?
 
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Stray the Witch

ZD Champion
Joined
Oct 9, 2023
I think I might actually go through every single Zelda game and piece together my own timeline for the series. This is interesting to think about, to say the least.
 
Joined
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Well, I already believe Nintendo got some fanfic writers to release an “official” timeline to try and squeeze some money out of particular fans, banking in on something they’ve had some amount of trouble with for years in not realizing western fans cared way more about this stuff than the devs tend to. Now they’re moving away from that with the last two games, simply including vague references to let those fans speculate. I get the feeling that moving on, none of the past games will have near as much of a bearing on future stuff, whether they even bother going off of what BotW/TotK built up or starting fresh again.

Personally have my own single timeline that fits well in my own headcanon, concede there’s a precedent for the split timeline, but the whole downfall bs is when I realized it was mostly made up based on fan theories already spread around the internet.

Skyward Sword
Minish Cap
Ocarina of Time
Majora’s Mask
Twilight Princess
Wind Waker
Phantom Hourglass
Spirit Tracks
Four Swords
Four Swords Adventures
A Link to the Past
Link’s Awakening
Oracle of Ages/Seasons
A Link Between Worlds
Legend of Zelda
Adventure of Link
Breath of the Wild
Tears of the Kingdom

I could go into much more detail, and I don’t think any overall timeline for this series will ever be cohesive or without holes in it regardless, nor conjecture to try and fill in blanks. I think the real major monkey wrench was ever trying to fit OoT as the Imprisoning War when tons of details in the end product just didn’t match up and they started making different sequels to it. Far better to just take the real obvious ones in their own neat segments and ignore the other stuff because it’s not like there’s much of a point to an overarching narrative here anyway; it’s far closer to a series like Final Fantasy than, say, Halo or Metal Gear Solid or whatever other more story driven series.
 

mαrkαsscoρ

Mr. SidleInYourDMs
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Why do people have such a problem with the timeline?

It's very clear that most of the games are connected to each other in someway.
certain games yes but pockets of the timeline just don't sit right w/ people
why is there a 3rd split? why is FSA split off from FS and thrown after TP? why did they change the placements of the oracles games?
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
Gender
man
Skyward Sword
Minish Cap
Ocarina of Time
Majora’s Mask
Twilight Princess
Wind Waker
Phantom Hourglass
Spirit Tracks
Four Swords
Four Swords Adventures
A Link to the Past
Link’s Awakening
Oracle of Ages/Seasons
A Link Between Worlds
Legend of Zelda
Adventure of Link
Breath of the Wild
Tears of the Kingdom
Oh my god, a linear timeline, wow. This looks great, I'm wondering about MC being separated from ST, and also having TP before WW. I've been struggling with figuring out how TP works considering the new TotK Ganondorf backstory.

(SS, Botw, Totk)
(Oot child, MM, TP)
(Oot adult, TWW, PH, ST)
(Alttp, Oox, LA, Tloz, Taol)
(Albw, TFH) <- I have reasons for separating these
(TMC, FS, FSA)

There'd be "mirror events" across all universes. Basically events that will always occur in some shape or form. For example, I could argue that the imprisoning war is consistently mirrored (as seen in Alttp, Oot, Totk, FSA and Albw respectively).

I think embracing a proper multiverse of this nature would improve the series overall, instead of trying to cram it all into 2 or 3 timelines. I'd argue that plenty of things in the series already support the idea. World of the ocean king, Lorule and Termina are all parallel universes, not to mention the classic Oot split. What's your opinion on this?
This is totally right. If we are going to have a "split" timeline, we should really be using a Marvel comics multiverse model, rather than a timeline model. There's a thread I'll link here
that also has a multiverse model of the timeline.

@TheHeroofHyrule2018 had 4:
Original Continuity: ALttP--LA--OoS--OoA--ALBW--TFH--Z1--Z2
Adult Continuity: SS--OoT--WW--PH--ST
Child Continuity: SS--OoT--MM--TP
Four Swords Continuity: MC--FS--FSA
Rebirth Continuity: BotW--TotK

I'm wondering what your reason for separating ALBW is? And also why is SS not connected to OoT? Other than that, this model looks pretty good.
 
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Oh my god, a linear timeline, wow. This looks great, I'm wondering about MC being separated from ST, and also having TP before WW. I've been struggling with figuring out how TP works considering the new TotK Ganondorf backstory.

I’m a bit confused what you mean by Minish Cap removed from Spirit Tracks? Unless you meant Four Swords. In that case, there’s not a very strong reason as to why I place Minish Cap so early aside from it seeming to be the earliest any monsters have invaded Hyrule as a kingdom. As for FS being much later, I feel it and FSA are far more conducive to setting up events for ALttP’s backstory, and there seem to be some differences to Vaati’s backstory to where it’s a bit unclear whether they are literally different entities, or enough time has passed for there to be murky legends about him.

The thing with OoT, TP, and WW for me is probably the weakest of my theory, but I believe the future events of OoT were erased when Link returned to his own time, and effectively were replaced by the events of TP, only far later on, which accounts for why the people expected the hero to appear many many years later in WW’e backstory. WW makes many references to Ganon being sealed away, made sense well enough to be his seal at the end of OoT, however the legend depicts Ganon pulling himself from underground and I feel it may just as well be possible he revived himself instead, having been killed in TP. Effectively the same outcome but I understand if it’s hard for others to agree with this.

TotK’s backstory imo only goes as far back as before BotW. For whatever reason whatever happens after Zelda 2, I feel Hyrule must have faced some devastation for the Zonai to come and take the land as their own and claim it, or at the very least Rauru. A bit mysterious. Anyway, that is to say I think that the Ganondorf here is a third incarnation, the first being left in WW and the second born before FSA and killed for good in the Iracle games.
 

OGSniper

Sharpshooter for Hire
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Skyward Sword
Minish Cap
Ocarina of Time
Majora’s Mask
Twilight Princess
Wind Waker
Phantom Hourglass
Spirit Tracks
Four Swords
Four Swords Adventures
A Link to the Past
Link’s Awakening
Oracle of Ages/Seasons
A Link Between Worlds
Legend of Zelda
Adventure of Link
Breath of the Wild
Tears of the Kingdom
Is there any reason why you put the Oracle games before LA? Just curious...
 

Lambsquirt

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Well, I already believe Nintendo got some fanfic writers to release an “official” timeline to try and squeeze some money out of particular fans, banking in on something they’ve had some amount of trouble with for years in not realizing western fans cared way more about this stuff than the devs tend to. Now they’re moving away from that with the last two games, simply including vague references to let those fans speculate. I get the feeling that moving on, none of the past games will have near as much of a bearing on future stuff, whether they even bother going off of what BotW/TotK built up or starting fresh again.

Personally have my own single timeline that fits well in my own headcanon, concede there’s a precedent for the split timeline, but the whole downfall bs is when I realized it was mostly made up based on fan theories already spread around the internet.

Skyward Sword
Minish Cap
Ocarina of Time
Majora’s Mask
Twilight Princess
Wind Waker
Phantom Hourglass
Spirit Tracks
Four Swords
Four Swords Adventures
A Link to the Past
Link’s Awakening
Oracle of Ages/Seasons
A Link Between Worlds
Legend of Zelda
Adventure of Link
Breath of the Wild
Tears of the Kingdom

I could go into much more detail, and I don’t think any overall timeline for this series will ever be cohesive or without holes in it regardless, nor conjecture to try and fill in blanks. I think the real major monkey wrench was ever trying to fit OoT as the Imprisoning War when tons of details in the end product just didn’t match up and they started making different sequels to it. Far better to just take the real obvious ones in their own neat segments and ignore the other stuff because it’s not like there’s much of a point to an overarching narrative here anyway; it’s far closer to a series like Final Fantasy than, say, Halo or Metal Gear Solid or whatever other more story driven series.
I dont believe this is very accurate but its good to see the inside of peoples minds ticking away, good effort in piecing together what feels right Kun, Theres a few points that Ryu Kage Desu brought up, that might help clarify for people invested in a genuine timeline idea, Using Logic evidence and the chronology of how kingdoms "rise and fall" i think until Ryus post is taken Seriously we will all be arguing over "Head Canon".
The following is a Link to Ryus Post.

These points if taken seriously will help re-write your bias, as the points are in "Game Lore" and aligns new "Canon Lore" with a
"More Than Plausibile", Pre "Skyward Sword" Hyrule Kingdom.

I.E : The Ancient Hero Aspect.

I have my own theory about the connection to the # of timelines and the # of master swords present,
To discern where the games or discussed lore timeframes are placed in the Timelines.

This helps to create Datums for "Cohesive" Theory Development.
Here's a taste...

 
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Is there any reason why you put the Oracle games before LA? Just curious...

Assuming you meant the other way around, my main reasoning is that when playing a linked Iracle game, Zelda seems to be meeting Link for her first time, whereas Link in LA is the same as the one from ALttP…or at least it’s been generally thought of that way. The end of the linked Oracle games shows Link getting on a raft very similar to the one in LA, and so I won’t deny it was likely meant to hint towards that, but I feel Zelda and Link having an initial meeting in them takes priority over it. I guess it’s always possible ALttP Link is actually neither of them, and rather it’s the same Link in all the Gameboy Color titles instead.
 

OGSniper

Sharpshooter for Hire
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Yeah sorry about that.

I personally have the Oracle games before, though I haven't sat down and made my version of the timeline.

I will make thread on the idea that I have about on why I think ALTTP, The Oracle games, and LA should be in this order.
 
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man
I’m a bit confused what you mean by Minish Cap removed from Spirit Tracks? Unless you meant Four Swords. In that case, there’s not a very strong reason as to why I place Minish Cap so early aside from it seeming to be the earliest any monsters have invaded Hyrule as a kingdom. As for FS being much later, I feel it and FSA are far more conducive to setting up events for ALttP’s backstory, and there seem to be some differences to Vaati’s backstory to where it’s a bit unclear whether they are literally different entities, or enough time has passed for there to be murky legends about him.
I meant FS, yes, lmao. I agree that FS and FSA set up ALttP better than OoT in many ways (map, Triforce history, Four Sword in Ganon's Pyramid, etc.), but I would just put MC as part of that era. But I like the "earliest monsters" idea as well.

The thing with OoT, TP, and WW for me is probably the weakest of my theory, but I believe the future events of OoT were erased when Link returned to his own time, and effectively were replaced by the events of TP, only far later on, which accounts for why the people expected the hero to appear many many years later in WW’e backstory. WW makes many references to Ganon being sealed away, made sense well enough to be his seal at the end of OoT, however the legend depicts Ganon pulling himself from underground and I feel it may just as well be possible he revived himself instead, having been killed in TP. Effectively the same outcome but I understand if it’s hard for others to agree with this.
See, I think that Link and Zelda fail to warn the king in the alternate OoT ending, leading to OoT happening anyway and following the Adult timeline. But I can definitely see why you think it would go with a TP then WW order.

TotK’s backstory imo only goes as far back as before BotW. For whatever reason whatever happens after Zelda 2, I feel Hyrule must have faced some devastation for the Zonai to come and take the land as their own and claim it, or at the very least Rauru. A bit mysterious. Anyway, that is to say I think that the Ganondorf here is a third incarnation, the first being left in WW and the second born before FSA and killed for good in the Iracle games.
I like this, but I use TotK's past as an explanation for Hyrule's refounding post-flood. But I think it's likely that this is the answer that the developers would give if they were asked about where TotK's past should be placed, so makes sense you would have it that way.

I also agree with @OGSniper that the Oracle games go before LA just because of all the recurring Nightmares in LA that Link would not have experienced previously if he hadn't experienced the Oracle games. But, again, the devs would say what you are saying, so that's always stronger.

Love this timeline, it's great work.
 

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