Perhaps one of the most argued topics in Zelda timeline debates today is the Seal War, also at times referred to as the Imprisoning War. Theorists often question if what was once the story of the Seal War has become something different or altered today. Players first learned of the Seal War in A Link to the Past, but since, Nintendo has made multiple efforts in altering or changing the story. However, no title thus far has taken place during the events of the Seal War, and those that were meant to no longer apply.
A Link to the Past and the Seal War
A Link to the Past was released in 1993 as the third game in the series. For many reasons, such as the back of the box, the backstory of Ganon, and the history of Hyrule’s creation, as well as the Triforce, ALttP was easily recognized as a distant prequel to the first two games. At this point, the timeline would have looked like this:
ALttP gave us a complex, yet understandable, story about the events of the Seal War. For a basic description, the Seal War was a battle amongst the different races of Hyrule who were all searching for the entrance to the Golden Land, or what is now known as the Sacred Realm. Within the Sacred Realm, legends told that if someone found the Triforce, it would grant a wish to the one who touched it. One man was successful in finding the entrance to the Sacred Realm and wishing upon the Triforce. This man’s name was Ganondorf. Because of Ganondorf’s wish, the entire Sacred Realm, every creature in it, and even Ganondorf himself were all transformed into creatures of evil. Ganondorf had been shifted into a half human, half pig hybrid, and was then known only as Ganon. Before he could find his way back to the Light World, the Sages sealed the entrance to the Sacred Realm, now known as the Dark World, because of the evil creatures that were coming through.
Inconsistencies with Ocarina of Time
In 1998, Ocarina of Time was released and said to take place during the events of the Seal War. OoT introduced Ganondorf as the only male member of the Gerudo tribe. Also the leader of the Gerudo, Ganondorf began his conquest by forming an alliance with the king of Hyrule. His plan was to find a way to obtain the Triforce, which he did by following Link to the Temple of Time, who upon pulling the Master Sword from its pedestal opened the pathway to the Sacred Realm. Ganondorf went in and was successful in obtaining the Triforce, however it split into three parts. Ganondorf only obtained the Triforce of Power, that of which he desired most. Ganondorf then made his way back to Hyrule and took it over. For seven years, Ganondorf searched for the remaining two pieces of the Triforce while Link waited to become an adult to wield the Master Sword. Once he did, Link defeated Ganondorf, but he was able to keep the Triforce of Power when he was sealed away by the Sages in what Ocarina of Time referred to as the “Evil Realm”.
Being that OoT was meant to be the events of the Seal War, theorists know that there are inconsistencies between the stories explained in ALttP and what is shown in OoT. The most important aspect of the Seal War was that Ganondorf did not leave the Dark World once it was sealed. In OoT, Ganondorf obtained the Triforce of Power and returned to Hyrule. Theorists assumed that the Seal War’s description was then changed to fit what is shown in OoT, since it was a newer game and could then rewrite the events. In other words, OoT allowed for Ganondorf to enter, obtain the Triforce of Power, return to Hyrule for seven years, and then be sealed after his defeat. Theorists assumed that this changed the intent of the Seal War, but later games would prove otherwise.
The Miyamoto Order
Sometime after Ocarina of Time’s release, Shigeru Miyamoto, the executive producer of the games and creator of the Zelda series, gave early theorists the infamous “Miyamoto Order” timeline. He said that Ocarina of Time was the oldest tale, followed ages later by the original Legend of Zelda, followed by its sequel, Adventure of Link, followed ages later by A Link to the Past, and finally, saying that Link’s Awakening could go just about anywhere in the timeline (even though LA was clearly a sequel to ALttP). Anyone who had played the games up until this point and had any interest in the Zelda timeline then became confused. A Link to the Past was meant to be a prequel to the first two games. Even the back of the box stated that the Link and Zelda in ALttP were “predecessors” to another Link and Zelda. At the time of ALttP’s release, there was only one other Link, and one other Zelda of his same generation, and those were in the original LoZ and its sequel, AoL. Basically, the Miyamoto Order mixed up one of the most obvious aspects about the timeline at that point.
There are more than just a couple of reasons why Miyamoto’s timeline could not work. First, Shigeru Miyamoto may be the man responsible for the creation of the series, and he may be the one in charge of overseeing the production of the games still today. However, he has not written a story for a Zelda game since the original Legend of Zelda. Since Adventure of Link, Miyamoto has had someone else to write those stories for him, and even stated once during a Japanese “History of Zelda” DVD that Link’s Awakening was his favorite game to play because he didn’t help make it, therefore he didn’t know what happened in it and enjoyed not knowing what was going to happen next. The same can be said for most other Zelda titles and their storylines. Since Miyamoto did not write them, he likely also does not know every aspect about them. That is one reason that Miyamoto, as great as he is, probably isn’t the person to ask about timeline advice, even if he did create the series. Also, because Miyamoto did not know much about Link’s Awakening, he said that it could go anywhere in the timeline. The manual for Link’s Awakening made it pretty clear that the game was meant to be a sequel to ALttP by saying that Link left Hyrule to prepare for the return of Ganon because the people of Hyrule were scared. If Miyamoto had any idea about the timeline at the point of his quote, he should have at least got LA’s placement correct.
Some theorists still today hold onto Miyamoto’s quote as a very valid and important piece of evidence in proving their idea of the timeline. However, there were inconsistencies even then that made it near impossible to consider OoT the Seal War, unless you considered it a retcon of ALttP’s description. Why? Because it simply goes against the entire point of the Seal War being ALttP’s backstory. The reason why ALttP even tells the events of the Seal War was to set up Ganon being sealed away in the Dark World attempting to escape. During ALttP, he comes very close by using the pawn, Agahnim, to take captive the six maidens, who were the descendants of the original Sages who sealed the Sacred Realm’s entrance during the Seal War. If Ganon were allowed to escape after entering the Sacred Realm during the Seal War, then it wouldn’t be much of a “seal” and Agahnim would have absolutely no reason to try to break a seal that was already penetrable.
The Wind Waker and the Split Timeline
With The Wind Waker’s release in 2003 came the Split Timeline. Eiji Aonuma had been the producer of the games since Majora’s Mask and had said he wanted to make some sense out of the Zelda timeline. By making The Wind Waker, theorists then knew that Ocarina of Time could definitely no longer be the events of the Seal War. The backstory to The Wind Waker was based off of the events of the “Adult” portion of Ocarina of Time. Once Ganon had been defeated, the Hero of Time disappeared. This was true, as Zelda had sent Link back to his childhood after he defeated Ganon. However, by Aonuma’s description, this created two separate universes to then make the games based off of. The Wind Waker was based off of the universe that Zelda was left in, where Ganon had been defeated and the Hero of Time no longer existed because he was sent back to his childhood. Because he left, Ganon returned later and was unable to be stopped, as there was no hero around to stop him. The people of Hyrule pleaded to the Goddesses, who intervened and flooded Hyrule in an attempt to stop Ganon. The people of Hyrule then moved to the mountaintops of the land, which had formed islands atop the Great Sea.
With the confirmation of the Split Timeline, theorists were now able to make some sense out of the continuation of the games thus far. The Split Timeline, then, looked like this:
The other games in the series were now not so easy to place. The Wind Waker allowed Ganondorf to escape his seal from OoT, which meant the ALttP’s description of the Seal War now made no sense. Theorists could only assume at this point that the original story of the Seal War was long gone, and would have to wait to try and place ALttP once more information came out related to it.
** It is also important to note that the Split Timeline was even further confirmed with the release of Twilight Princess. After TP’s release, Aonuma gave theorists an idea of where it goes on the timeline by saying that TP was a parallel to TWW. This meant that TP would have happened roughly the same time after OoT as TWW did, but on the other timeline. Here’s a visual:
Re-releases and Changes
A Link to the Past was re-released on the Gameboy Advance in 2003, five years after Ocarina of Time and the year of the Miyamoto Order. To the surprise of fans, the text in A Link to the Past had been slightly altered in areas and the manual had been significantly shortened. A lot of in-depth information that once described the Seal War and its events were now gone or changed in such a way that one could consider, without close examination, that the Seal War was altered to allow Ganon to leave the Dark World. However, by paying close attention to the GBA release, one will realize that even now, the intent has stayed the same. Ganon is still stated, through use of multiple in-game quotes, to stay inside the Dark World from the events of the Seal War to ALttP.
Here are a few quotes that help prove this point:
–Random Quote from ALttP–
“You’re new here, aren’t you? Did you come here looking for the Power of Gold? Well, you’re too late. It will obey only the first person who touches it. The man who last claimed the Power of Gold wished for this world. It reflects his heart. Yes, I came here out of greed for the Golden Power, and look what happened to me… To restore the Golden Land, a person worthy of the Golden Power must defeat the man who created this place… Until that time, I am stuck in this bizarre shape. But what a mischievous thing to leave lying around… The Power of Gold… Triforce…”
** According to GBA ALttP, we see that Ganondorf was the last person to claim the Triforce and wish upon it. We also see from this quote that the Dark World was still filled with evil. At this point, ALttP could not come on the Adult Timeline after The Wind Waker, which would even further alter the original intent of the War, because Hyrule was flooded and gone on the AT, and Ganondorf was killed at the end of The Wind Waker.
** This quote also lets theorists know that the Dark World was still in existence from the Seal War to ALttP. Any theorists still believing that LoZ could come before ALttP would now have a problem. After Ganon is defeated at the end of ALttP, the Dark World goes back to being the Sacred Realm. If Ganon somehow escaped the seal and the events of LoZ happened, then his defeat at the end of LoZ should have turned the Dark World back in to the Sacred Realm at that point. However, we know now that it didn’t, which even further proves that Ganon had not been defeated between the time of his wish, the seal, and ALttP.
–The Essence of the Triforce, speaking to Link at the end of the game–
“The Triforce will grant the wishes in the heart and mind of the person who touches it. If a person with a good heart touches it, it will make his good wishes come true… If an evil-hearted person touches it, it grants his evil wishes. The stronger the wish, the more powerful the Triforce’s expression of that wish. Ganon’s wish was to conquer the world. That wish changed the Golden Land into the Dark World. After building up his power, Ganon planned to go on to the Light World to fulfill his wish. But now that Ganon has been destroyed, his Dark World will surely vanish. The Triforce is waiting for a new master. Its Golden Power is in your hands… Now, touch it and think of the wish in your heart.”
** This entire quote pretty much tells the player what they already know, but the part to pay attention to the most here is when the Triforce says, “after building up his power, Ganon planned to go on to the Light World and fulfill his wish…” This clearly means that Ganon never left the Dark World after the Seal War, or after the entrance to the Dark World was sealed by the sages.
–Another Quote from GBA ALttP–
“So the king commanded seven sages to seal the gate to the land of the Golden Power. Many brave knights were lost in the battle to protect the sages from the tides of evil, but the seal was cast! Evil flowed no more! And the seal would remain for all time… Or so the people hoped… But when these events were obscured by the mists of time, and became legend…
A mysterious wizard known as Agahnim appeared as from nowhere… and with strange magic powers he eliminated the good king of Hyrule…
He cast spells on the soldiers and kidnapped young maidens descended from the sages in order to break the seal…
This destiny fast approaches for the final maiden… the princess, Zelda…”
** This right here proves that no matter what OoT did, no matter who wrote or what happened in any other game detailing the Seal War, that this game has the advantage over both because it was RE-RELEASED long after all of them, and the plot never changed. That intro literally says many things about the Seal War:
-The Sages were sealing a gate that had been opened to the SR, not a person within it. The Sages didn’t open the gate and put Ganon in there like they did in OoT, but they sealed a portal discovered by someone else. Ganon was already in the SR at the time of the Seal War.
-MANY knights lost their lives trying to fight back the evil monsters as the Sages sealed the way to the SR. It doesn’t specify one Hero fighting Ganon while the Sages made the seal like in OoT. And this does not speak of the beginning to the end of the Seal War. It speaks of the event of “while the Sages were sealing the portal to the SR”. As they were sealing it, many knights lost their lives because apparently evil beings were exiting the Dark World and/or, there were power crazy people wanting to leave the portal open. During OoT’s seal, no one died. No knights, no heroes, no one. Again, GBA ALttP overrules OoT because of its release date, so this alone disproves OoT as the Seal War, at least anymore.
-The seal, which was cast by the Sages, remained for all time until Agahnim showed up and captured the Maidens in order to break it. How can that seal remain for “all time” but somehow Ganon can escape and run around Hyrule during LoZ in the meantime? Once again, GBA ALttP overrules any prior story, and GBA ALttP has the same story as the original SNES release.
–Quotes from the Maidens in GBA ALttP–
“…The Triforce will grant the wishes of whoever touches it, as long as that person lives… That is why it was hidden in the Golden Land. Only a select few were told of its location, but at some point that knowledge was lost… The one who rediscovered the Golden Land was an evil thief named Ganondorf. Luckily, he couldn’t figure out how to return to the Light World…”
** This quote simply backs up my previous statement about Ganondorf not being able to find his way back out of the Dark World after it was sealed.
Virtual Console Releases
The original Legend of Zelda was released on the Wii Virtual Console on its debut. The description of the game, as stated by the Virtual Console, began with “Ganon has escaped from the Dark World”. This description, combined with the Miyamoto Order, gave theorists yet another reason to believe that ALttP came after the events of LoZ and AoL (wherever they would fall on the timeline at that point).
A Link to the Past was also released on the Virtual Console with a description of its own that stayed the same as the original story of the game. ALttP’s description stated that Agahnim was attempting to break the “Imprisoning Seal” on Ganon. In America, the Seal War described in ALttP was known as the “Imprisoning War”. Imprisoning seal, imprisoning war. Both go hand in hand. Just as theorists believed that LoZ’s description changed the intent of the Seal War and allowed for Ganon to stay in the Dark World, ALttP’s description backed up the original idea that Ganon was not able to leave after being sealed.
Conclusion and Theory
Based on all of the information provided in this article, theorists can safely assume that the original story of the Seal War is still intact. Ocarina of Time, though meant to display those events spoken of in ALttP, has now been disproved as the actual Seal War. We can also conclude that ALttP is a distant prequel to LoZ and AoL as it was originally intended. All of this information has led me to devise my own timeline theory about the Seal War and how it affected the order of the games. Keep in mind that most of the games in this timeline have not been discussed in this article, only the ones having to do with or affecting the Seal War, but they will be listed to show a full timeline of the games.