troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesWMG

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
The Legend Of Zelda Timeline
Ah Yes...The Legend of Zelda timeline. The greatest source of Fan Wank in the entire Video Game industry.
  • Rules
    • Sign all timeline theories.
    • You can say Me Too, but do not disagree on other theories as the Continuity Snarl means that there is no true answer.
    • Only timeline banned is the Hero's Journey interpretation which shall remain on the main Wild Mass Guessing page.
    • No CD-i games.
[Abbreviations]
     Official Timeline from Hyrule Historia (As of 2011) 
Timeline given from 2011 Japanese art book Hyrule Historia
  • Pre-Split: SS - MC - FS - OoT
  • Continuing from OoT:
    • Timeline where Link is defeated by Ganon: LttP - OoS - OoA - LA - LoZ - AoL (LBWnote )
    • Timeline where Link defeats Ganon: WW - PH - ST
    • Timeline where Link returns to his childhood: MM - TP - FSA

     Guesses from 2011 or earlier (pre-HH) 
Crunchman's theory
Some games' plots are too different from each other to fit into the same timeline. For example, MC's "Light Force" vs most other games' "Triforce." So my theory is that rather than all games fitting into one timeline that splits early on, there are several different timelines:

Original Timeline: ALttP - LA - LoZ - AoL (Possibly OoX)

I call this the "Original Timeline" because it encompasses the first four Zelda games ever released, apparently before Nintendo started thinking it was funny to watch us argue about the timeline amongst ourselves. ALttP I believe was explicitly stated to be a prequel to LoZ, so it goes first. LA goes next. There isn't much in-game to support this, but I noticed something with this Link's official artwork; he looks identical to ALttP's Link, even the design on the shield. Considering that this game came out only a year later, those two being the same seems totally feasible to me. LoZ/AoL come last, as AoL is a direct sequel to LoZ, which ALttP is a prequel to. The oracle games don't seem to fit in really anywhere particular, so if I had to put them in any timeline but their own, I'd slap them on the end of this one. Ganon is dead and is to be resurrected, so they must take place after LoZ, where he was killed. Din, Nayru, and Farore are present in these games, but not as goddesses, so it's not likely to be the Main Timeline, and there's no mention of Vaati or the Four Sword, so it's not likely to be the Four Sword Timeline either.

Four Sword Timeline: MC - FS - FSA

Fairly simple, MC explains the origins of the Four Sword, FS is the main game featuring the Four Sword, and FSA is the sequel. Vaati's presence in all three seems to further confirm this, if the Four Sword itself wasn't enough. Sure, Ganon, whom Zelda states to have once been a Gerudo named Ganondorf, hijacks the plot at the end, but if this timeline has a separate Link and a separate Zelda, then why not a separate Ganondorf with a similar backstory too? (Also, the Original Timeline's Ganon was said to be a King of Thieves named Ganondorf.) Also, because it wasn't in the original release AND it has nothing to do with the story itself, the Four Swords Dungeon in ALttP should not be taken as canon. And while I cited visual similarities as proof for LA!Link and ALttP!Link being one and the same, MC!Link is not WW!Link. The MC setting is too drastically different, the biggest kicker being the absence of the Triforce in MC and the absence of the Light Force any other game.

.................................................................................. MM - WW - PH - ST

The Main/Ocarina Timeline: SS - OoT - SPLIT<

.................................................................................. TP

SS goes first. I really have no in-game evidence to support this because the game has not come out at the time of me writing this, but Word of God says that it comes before OoT and explains the origins of the Master Sword. Ocarina of Time goes next. Between Word of God saying that it was the first in the series until SS was announced and all future games in this timeline referring to its events in past tense, it seems the most obvious place to put it.

Okay, so the next bit always bugged me. I never understood the Adult/Child split, in neither the naming convention nor the actual concept, but I digress. People always tell me that MM goes on the same side of the split as TP, but why? What evidence is there to that? The way I figure:
  • At the end of Ocarina of Time, Link is sent back to his childhood where he does one of two things.
    • A) Link tells everyone that Ganondorf is bad news. Presenting evidence of the evil he's already done (Killed the Deku Tree, starved the Gorons, and filled the Zoras' deity with monsters) and having the Zoras and Gorons testify, Ganondorf is put on trial.
      • He is found guilty.
      • His execution fails, he kills one of the sages, and is thrown into the Twilight Realm.
      • The events of Twilight Princess happen.
    • B) Link fails to realize that stopping Ganondorf in the future doesn't mean he isn't still at large in the past.
      • Link immediately leaves to find Navi.
      • The events of Majora's Mask happen.
      • Meanwhile, while Link is in Termina, Ganondorf rises to power.
      • With no hero to stop him, the goddesses flood Hyrule.
      • The events of Wind Waker happen.

Link has left Hyrule and he's not around, not even in the same dimension. That's why Hyrule was flooded. Why would they need to flood the world if Link was still there? I assume that in the TP side of the split, Link probably settled down somewhere. Malon is usually a popular ship, what with Link working at a ranch by TP (I have problems shipping Link with Zelda. They're often stated to be descendants of their predecessors, and a coupling at any point would effectively make the two cousins. Distant cousins, but cousins still). There's also the idea that the Hero's Shade is OoT!Link, which implies that he became a knight or royal guard after the game.

The rest of the timeline is fairly straightforward. PH comes after WW, it once again takes place in a flooded world and features Tetra. Spirit Tracks is generations later and features Link and Zelda's successors in New Hyrule, the new mainland that Link and Tetra were looking for.

There. That's my two cents. Feel free to point out flaws. The Zelda Timeline is something I love to waste hours of my life contemplating, I'll try to adjust my theory to patch any holes pointed out.
Rhyme Beat's theory
  • Child——-MM--TP--FSA/FS--LoZ/Aol--ALttP/OoX/LA
  • SS-MC-OoT^Adult—WW/PH—ST
  • SS, OoT, WW, MM, PH, TP, and ST are canon. MC being pre-OoT is due to the presence of Skyloft in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword sounding like MC's Wind Tribe. FSA/FS brings Ganon back to the Child Timeline after his death in TP, as does the ritual method mentioned in AoL (the game is Nintendo Hard, so it's not too far a stretch to assume that Twinrova were able to get Link's blood somewhere), ALttP seals the main Ganon plotline, and OoX is connected by the beginning (the complete Triforce calling Link) and ending (Link leaving on a boat).

Mine incorporates a few of my own theories, but isn't that the fun?

Let's see. MC predates OoT. Why? Hat? The fact that you only interact with a few friendly Gorons and the Minish (whom, I bet, evolve into the Kokiri) may be slightly indicative of the Hyrulean Civil War. (SS could take place before or after. The game isn't released yet!) FS also predates the war. The Split Timeline theory is canon, so OoT leading into MM/TP and WW/PH/ST still holds. Next is Oracle of Seasons, which takes place after MM and shows OoT/MM "kid" Link taking on a new adventure and takes place shortly before Ganon's attempt at power. Twinrova appears at the end hoping to help Ganon by getting rid of Hyrule's army his greatest foe. Doesn't work. However, she does succeed in lighting the Flame of Despair, and the Flame of Destruction is also lit in the process. This'll be important later.

Next is timeline fixing. MM-TP and WW-PH-ST take place as usual. But during the Adult timeline, the Ocean King got the worlds wrong and sent Link and Tetra and the ship to Child Timeline's Termina. Over the intervening 200 years or so, the goddesses decided to have some more rule over this area and set up the Lokomos; four of the Lokomos are the old giants, and three more were created. Their tech has advanced enough to include trains. So the timelines are somewhat fixed without any knowledge of it! However, 100 years after TP and shortly after ST, the Hyrules become aware of each other, the two Triforces merge into a single whole, and so do the two worlds. In the process, the train system is removed. With the trains gone, ST Zelda assumes a different name and becomes an adventurer. (I can see it happening!) As a final consequence, there is now only one Link.

This timeline leads to many geographies blending together. Sounds like the weird geography in FSA. The Goddesses also took advantage to fuse the Four Sword and the Master Sword together to be useful regardless of which foe it faces, which explains how the Four Sword can take on Ganon. It also doubles as the Imprisoning War. Yep. ALttP takes place 30-40 years after. After that comes LA. Now remember that the two summoning flames are lit? A certain sorceress finds that little tidbit and uses it to her advantage in Labrynna. If you've been keeping track of time, OoA's "past" takes place 400 years ago — the same time as Oracle of Seasons. And this fangirl loves the thought of having the Hero of Time meeting the Hero of Hyrule (Her nickname for ALttP Link). Both are Links that survived a somewhat depressing adventure along with a classic adventure. But enough fangirling. Ganon is resurrected this time around. Link defeats him, but... not really. Hence the original game and AoL.
Lady Norbert's theory

I postulate that the two original games should not be included in the timeline theory at all. They exist in an alternate version of Hyrule and do not take place in the same reality as the other games. Here are my reasons:
  • Geographical differences
    • While it must be acknowledged that every game shows Hyrule looking somewhat different (and this is at least partly due to advancements in game technology), the two original games have the only existing continuity. The Overworld from LoZ can be found in the map of AoL, which can't be said of the other games.
    • Additionally, AoL has North Castle — not Hyrule Castle — as well as the six palaces of the crystals, two deserts instead of one, and of course the Great Palace.
    • Yes, most of its towns share names with the sages from OoT, but that's just further confusion, because why don't those towns exist in other games too? Only Kakariko Village and Hyrule Castle Town are consistent, and neither of those appear in the NES games.
    • Also, the Hyrule of the NES games seems to border an ocean — all other games indicate that Hyrule is landlocked.
  • Religious differences
    • It has been stated by Word of God (as I myself noted on the Creepy Cool Crosses page) that the reason Hyrule in the NES games has a recurring cross motif is because they had intended for Christianity to be the dominant religion in Hyrule. From ALttP onward, the crosses have been quietly removed and we've been treated to the legends of the goddesses. But meanwhile, they're still sitting there in the NES games — on Link's shields, on every tombstone in the cemetery, on the spellbook in LoZ, and in AoL as an actual cross. Since no remakes have been produced, nor are there any known plans to produce them, one must presume that technically, Christianity still exists in the Hyrule of the NES.
  • Link's background
    • The manual for LoZ suggests that Link is not from Hyrule. This is further confirmed by the authorized comic books, which say that he comes from a neighboring country called Calatia. (While the canonical veracity of supplemental material is questioned by some, Nintendo has stated that the The Legend of Zelda manga are to be taken as canonical. There is therefore no logical reason why this should not also apply to the comics, which came first, especially since there is no manga of the NES games.)
    • Link not being native of Hyrule in the NES games makes sense, since the manual further implies that he doesn't know anything about Princess Zelda or the existence of the Triforce until Impa explains things to him. But the Links in all other games are explicitly Hyrule-born — in ALttP he's descended from the knights of the realm, in TP he's a lifelong resident of Ordon Village, etc.
  • The Master Sword — or lack thereof
    • The Master Sword, fabled weapon which is solely capable of defeating Ganon/dorf, does not appear in the NES games. Instead, LoZ gives us three swords — the Wooden Sword, which does appear in other games, and the White Sword and Magical Sword, which do not. And AoL never upgrades Link's sword at all; he's still using the Magical Sword from the end of LoZ, suggesting that there is no better weapon to be had.
    • It's been suggested that the Magical Sword and the Master Sword are the same, and there is nothing to either confirm or deny this, but it doesn't really make sense. The Master Sword, as seen in pretty much every game where it appears, has a blue hilt with wings. The Magical Sword, going by its appearance in the promotional and box art for the NES games, has a gold hilt encrusted with jewels. It's hard to imagine they are the same object.
    • Another suggestion has been that, since ALttP ends with the assertion that "the Master Sword sleeps forever," the NES games came later and the Magical Sword is indeed a different weapon. That mostly makes sense... except that if the Blade of Evil's Bane is the only weapon (alongside Light/Silver Arrows) capable of killing Ganon/dorf, then how did the Magical Sword come into existence and how is it able to do the same thing? It obviously does the job, which means that either the Master Sword is not the only blade that can defeat him (and all the games that claim it is are therefore lying), or it's not sleeping forever as ALttP states and was somehow turned into the Magical Sword. The only viable third option is this theory.
  • Other items
    • In both NES games, Link is able to acquire a magical key which will unlock any door in any dungeon/palace. In all later games, keys are only useable in the dungeon where they are found, and the more recent games add the bonus matter of the boss key. Magical keys do not exist in the Hyrule(s) of the games from ALttP onward.
    • They are the only games in which a raft is required to access certain dungeons/palaces.
    • Link learns spells in AoL, something he does not do in any other game. He does use magic in other games, but not in the same way.
    • Link collects Heart Containers instead of pieces of heart.
  • The Triforce! The motherloving Triforce is different!
    • In all other games where it is mentioned, the Triforce of Courage selects Link as its bearer, just as the Triforce of Wisdom selects Zelda. But in the NES games, the King of Hyrule (father of the Sleeping Beauty Zelda in AoL) held all three parts, and made the personal decision to split them up; there is no Sacred Realm.
    • Furthermore, the backstory of LoZ explicitly states that Ganon stole the Triforce of Power from Zelda, which meshes with the backstory of AoL and its implication that the Triforce parts are treasures of the royal house. Link recovers it for her, then acquires the Triforce of Courage in the next game, so that all three are physically present and in his/Zelda's possession. In all other games, Ganon is more or less the chosen bearer of the Triforce of Power.

For these reasons, and probably for others that I'm not presently thinking of, I think the NES games are in an alternate universe of their own and should be removed from the timeline theories altogether. They are a continuity unto themselves.
  • And three years after I posted this theory, Hyrule Historia shows that I was almost right. If I'd included the Oracle games and LTTP, I would have correctly figured out the third branch of the timeline!

Something that I'm surprised I'm the first to guess: Only the games that are developed in-house at Nintendo are canon. So, the Capcom games (FS, FSA, OoS/OoA, and MC) are not. Suddenly, everything's a whole lot easier, isn't it?

After that, the timeline is as follows:

SS -> OoT (timeline splits here):

WW -> PH -> ST

MM -> TP -> ALttP -> LA -> LoZ -> AoL

Now, doesn't that make perfect sense?

Malph's Theory
  • 1st part= {SS}->MC->FS->OoT (Timeline split)
    • Child Timeline= {OoT:C->MM->TP}->{ALttP->LA}->{LoZ->AoL}->OoX
    • Adult Timeline= {OoT:A->WW->PH->ST}
  • Explaination of "1st Part"- Skyward Sword is canonically before Minish Cap and Ocarina of Time.
  • Timeline Split: When Link is sent back to his own time at the end of Ocarina, it creates 2 timelines.
  • Timeline differences-
    • Child- Link is sent back to the time when he first took the Master Sword. Navi leaves. Link tries to find Navi, is assaulted by the Skull Kid, and ends up in Termina (whether or not he ever returned is a different discussion).
    • Adult- Link is sent back to the time when he first took the Master Sword (The Child Timeline). Link can only exist in one timeline, so the one where Ganon is sealed away is left without a hero when Ganon returns. Hyrule is flooded to stop Ganon from rising to power again.
  • Oracle Games- After beating one of the Oracle games, linking to the other, and beating that one, you learn that this was an attempt by Twinrova to bring Ganon back to life. The reason it's put specifically after LoZ and Zelda II is because Zelda II confirms that Ganon is officially dead. Ganon's minions failed to revive him in Zelda II, so the Oracle games are the last attempt to bring him back. It makes a bit more sense to me than Ganon being revived before Zelda 1.
  • Link's Awakening- Word of God says ALttP Link is the same as LA Link. I'll just assume this is true.
  • Concerning the Hero Fails timeline: What the hell does this even mean? Until I get a good explanation, I'm sticking with my timeline.

Megabyter5's theory
Minish Cap is the first in the timeline. Next is Ocarina of Time, which of course splits the timeline into the Good Future and the Bad Future. As always, the Good Future leads to Majora's Mask and Twilight Princess, and the Bad Future goes to Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks. The difference, however, is that before the apocalyptic events preceding Wind Waker, Oracle of Seasons happens. In Oracle of Ages, the past takes place before the split, and the present is either just before or just after Majora's Mask, while Link is traveling the world and visiting places like Termina. Ages creates a third timeline, where For Want of a Nail, Minish Cap never happened.

Because Future!Link prevented his first adventure, Present!Link is a stranger to Hyrule, allowing LoZ and Zelda II to take place. Also, because they were sick of this whole cosmic Kudzu Plot, the Goddesses cursed all three Links to have Nintendo Hard stealth levels in a desperate attempt to keep him from completing his various adventures.

Vodkainferno666 theory
MC - FSA - SS- OoT - [Timeline Split]

Minish Cap is the first game; it never references the Triforce, for the people of Hyrule do not know of its power. Then Four Swords Adventure is Ganon's Start of Darkness. Ocarina of Time is where the timeline split. Now, at the timeline split, we have two possible choices — Link doesn't go to the future and Ganon does take over the world, and then we have the "Good" future where Link does go into the future and stops Ganon.

Ganon stays supreme: LoZ - AoL - OoX - LA - WW - PH - ST

Legend of Zelda is where Hyrule's population first drops. Due partly to hardware limitations, we only see a small fraction of the population; this is justified if we assume that most of the people have been killed because of widespread monsters. Ganon is banished, and Adventures of Link and the Oracle games is Link thwarting Ganon from being resurrected during a population boom. Between the next generation of Links, Ganon is brought back, and starts the initial great flood. Link's Awakening takes place during this time frame, and Link, unaware of the destiny he was supposed to have, ultimately dies out at sea, which leads to the Wind Waker Saga.

Ganon is defeated : MM - TP - ALttP

This timeline is shorter because Ganon is not around as much to cause as much trouble. Being sufficiently weakened, Twilight Princess is his next appearance after being freed; while he is killed, he ultimately corrupts the Twilight Realm. Thus, after a long Time Skip, while Hyrule is prosperous, but the Twilight people have gone extinct in their homeland, which is now what we call the Dark World.

Sk8torchic's Theory
SS->OoT->SPLIT
Adult:WW->PH->ST->MC->FS->FSA->LoZ->AoL
Child:MM->TP->LttP->OoX->LA

SS, OoT-ST, and OoT-TP are all confirmed canon. FSA has Ganon revived for LoZ. MC after ST? Because the Triforce has been forgotten in WW, and the "Light Force" in Zelda is likely the Triforce of Wisdom. Knowledge of the Triforce is revived by Ganon himself between FSA and LoZ, and the Great War in LttP takes place between OoT and TP. Am I missing anything?

Captain Bob's Theory
MC->SS->OoT->(split)

Child: MM->TP->OoX] Adult: WW->PH->ST->[=ALttP->LA->FS->FSA->LoZ->AoL

The Minish Cap comes first, as the Wind Tribe still lives in the sky at that point. They may descend to Hyrule and abandon the skies in Skyward Sword, which is why you only see Oocca there in Twilight Princess.

Everything between Skyward Sword and Spirit Tracks is canon.

After A Link to the Past, in which Ganon is Killed Off for Real, Link gives the Triforce to the Royal Family of Hyrule, and the King hides the Triforce of Courage in the Great Temple while he and Zelda keep Power and Wisdom respectively. Link's journey to look for other threats to Hyrule brings him to the islands of Old Hyrule where he learns of Vaati and the Four Sword. This information is imparrted to the Royal Family afterward. After waiting until the gateway to the Elemental Sanctuary opens again, Zelda brings Link to check on the seal (as only children can see the entrance to the sanctuary) and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords happens.

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures features a reincarnation of Ganondorf who receives the previous Ganon's abilities upon gaining the latter's Trident, which functioned as a Soul Jar. This Ganon is sealed into the Four Sword, which he breaks out of in LoZ.

The Oracle games could happen at the end of either timeline, as Ganon is dead and the Triforces reunited in AoL. In Twilight Princess, Ganon is also dead and his Triforce has abandoned him, while Link and Zelda have the other two, so it's logical to think the pieces were brought back together. I place them at the end of the Child Timeline because the Master Sword makes an appearance. In the Adult Timeline, this would conflict with A Link to the Past's line about the Master Sword sleeping forever. Plus, it is possible that the original Twinrova could still be alive as of the end of Twilight Princess.

An alternate placement of The Minish Cap could be between Spirit Tracks and A Link to the Past, in the event that Skyward Sword takes a different direction than predicted or one takes the "Triumph Forks" title in the library to actually be significant. Regardless, the Light Force cannot be the Triforce of Wisdom in either case, since Zelda does not have it prior to Ocarina of Time or between the end of The Wind Waker and the end of A Link to the Past.

Ganon becoming a giant pig monster has little bearing to the timeline, as he can easily switch between being a Gerudo and a giant pig monster in both Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.

Enistoja's theory

Not including the first two Zelda games, and the Four Swords alternate world, all of the series is a single timeline
We start like this:
A) Ocarina of Time. Then Link is returned to his child form and he goes to Termina, thus starting
B) Majora's Mask, and afterwards Link rides Epona into a forest where he finds a temple with the Triforce, teleporting him to
C/D) Oracle of Ages/Seasons, which, after the end, see Link sailing away in a boat, which is struck by lightning in the end, leading to
E) Link's Awakening. He was saved by the Wind Fish and returned to land for him to procreate and have children and tell all the legends.
F) A Link to the Past. Link's reincarnation/descendant has an adventure many years/centuries apart.
G) Twilight Princess. Link defeats Ganondorf, but he isn't dead (How many people die and stay standing anyway?). He returns later, after Link has died of old age, leading the Goddesses to flood the land, which leads to
H) Wind Waker. This leads to
I) Phantom Hourglass. And this FURTHER leads to
J) Spirit Tracks

Deuxhero's theory
  • (Minish Cap?), Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, and Majora's Mask happen, with possible other games in-between.
  • The split into flooded and not flooded timelines (Majora's Mask may only happen in one of the two timelines, I forget how that worked)
  • Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, and Spirit Tracks happen in the flooded timeline
  • Twilight Princess happens in the not flooded timeline.

Beyond that, there is no time line beyond "Adventure of Link is after the original game", "Link's Awakening is after Link to the Past" (and possibly something with the Oracle games and their relation to each other as well, haven't played them), and Nintendo's claims otherwise are just to mess with you.

Vic George 2010's timeline

From the games I have played in the series:

1) Ocarina of Time

2) Child Timeline: where Link returns from the future to stop Ganondorf in the present time of Ocarina of Time.

  • Majora's Mask
  • Twilight Princess
  • A Link To The Past
  • Link's Awakening
  • The Legend Of Zelda
  • The Adventures Of Link

3) Adult Timeline: where Link disappears from the future after Ganondorf is sealed and never returns, allowing Ganondorf to break free of his imprisonment and requiring Hyrule to be flooded.

  • The Wind Waker
  • Phantom Hourglass
  • Spirit Tracks

dancingbear's Theory

We already know that Split Timeline Theory is canon, so I propose we first determine which timeline the other games take place in. Everyone knows where MM, TP, WW, PH, and ST go; their placements are all canon and are easily verifiable.

OoT (adult) -> WW/PH -> ST

OoT (child)/MM -> TP

Starting with the original LoZ, we literally get nothing to go on. Ganon has the Triforce of Power (just like in almost every other game), Zelda has the Triforce of Wisdom (just like in almost every other game). We don't even see any notable landmarks of later games other than Death Mountain. No Hyrule Castle or anything.

Thankfully, AoL is canonically the direct sequel to LoZ, and gives us plenty of context. The Triforce of Courage is scattered — but the most important hint here is the names of the towns. Specifically, they are mostly named after the sages of OoT (in-universe, anyway). In the "child" timeline, Saria, Darunia, Ruto, etc. never became the sages, as seen in TP, and thus there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to name any towns after them. I believe this is sufficient evidence to pin both LoZ and AoL to the "adult" timeline. For the moment, I will abstain from committing them to a placement within that timeline, but note that at the end of AoL, Ganon is dead and the Triforce is assembled at Hyrule Castle.

Next: ALttP. There are a lot of solid hints in this one both ways. However, the state (or rather existence, as I'll explain) of the Dark World leads me to believe that this game, too, resides in the "adult" timeline. In the "child" timeline, Ganon never entered the Sacred Realm, did not spend seven years warping and corrupting it, and thus did not create the Dark World, as he did in the "adult" timeline. One could argue that the placement of the Master Sword in TP is a clear call-back to ALttP, and admittedly WW left the Master Sword stuck in Ganondorf's head at the bottom of the ocean. But stone is slowly eroded by water, the Sword can be swept up in the currents, and who knows where it could have ended up? The Dark World evidence is plain and simple.

LA has been stated to be a direct sequel to ALttP, and I see no reason to dispute said statement. Furthermore, the game's placement in the "adult" timeline allows the sea that swallows Link's ship to be the Great Sea, and even allows for the theory that the Ocean King (from PH) is actually the Wind Fish. Neither theory is necessary for this timeline, but both theories support it.

Next, we'll tackle the Four Swords Trilogy, considered by many to be the toughest games to place. I think MC fits nicely at the beginning of the timeline — before OoT — for several reasons, most (if not all) of which have been stated multiple times already. I'll just say Word of God and Link's hat, and we'll move on.

Let's take a moment to consider the timelines as I've constructed them thus far:

MC -> OoT (adult) -> WW/PH -> ST -> (LoZ, AoL, ALttP)

MC -> OoT (child)/MM -> TP

Four Swords is pretty ambiguous about its placement; really, it could go practically anywhere. No reference to the Triforce or Ganon, and no net result (Vaati begins and ends the game imprisoned in the Four Sword). However, as most people think of FSA as a direct sequel, we'll just look at that.

This one's a doozy. Eiji Aonuma claimed that FS was the oldest tale in the chronology in 2004, before the release of MC but after the release of OoT. Since FSA is a direct sequel to FS, that means Ganon rose to power before OoT. But at the end of FSA, he is sealed inside the Four Sword, while at the beginning of OoT, he has apparently roamed freely for some time as a man, and doesn't have his trademark trident, which he then reacquires later in the series. I am forced to come to the conclusion that every once in a while, the developers just don't think their comments through. I don't believe they have a master timeline, and I don't believe they care. They just want to make fun games without worrying about how they all tie in to some grand overarching plot, and I don't blame them. Disregarding Aonuma's comment, this one is left open to interpretation: either FS does take place before OoT, but FSA is not a direct sequel to it, or both games take place after OoT, and FSA is a direct sequel.

The end result is the same because, as I said before, FS is completely irrelevant to the plot. For the purpose of neatness, I'm going to tack FS onto the beginning of FSA. So which timeline do they fit into? Not as hard a question as you might think; just look at the overworld map. Anyone who has ever played ALttP should recognize it instantly, as the overworlds are practically identical. One notable difference is that now we can see that Hyrule is surrounded on all sides by water. The Great Sea, perhaps? As if that's not enough, this game explains the origins of Ganon's trident — which he wields in ALttP. It has a connection to the Dark World (or, at the very least, a dark world). It ends with Ganon being locked inside the Four Sword, and lo and behold, in the GBA re-release of ALttP, Link can travel through the Palace of the Four Sword, battle four shadow Links, and take up said sword to smite Ganon. How about that final scene of FSA, showing the Four Sword surrounded by a kind of prism of light? It looks awfully familiar, maybe because the old ALttP artwork included a picture of the great beast trapped within a pyramid of light, surrounded by dead knights. There is one potential problem here: Ganon is alive at the beginning of FSA, but dead at the end of all other games in this timeline. However, death has never stopped him before. He manages to come back from the dead in LoZ, the bad end of AoL, and partly in OoX. In short, even though Link is usually able to thwart his (or his minions') efforts to resurrect himself, he is clearly capable of doing so. Zelda even calls him the "ancient demon reborn", possibly implying that he is, in fact, the original Ganon resurrected. This might just be from the English translation, but anyway it's the least of my evidence.

I don't think I have to argue my point any further, though I could. FSA is clearly a precursor to ALttP, and once you accept that, everything else just falls right into place.

MC -> OoT (adult) -> WW/PH -> ST -> FS/FSA -> ALttP/LA -> LoZ/AoL

MC -> OoT (child)/MM -> TP

Once could argue that LoZ and AoL could come between ST and FS, but I would point to the Triforce as proof otherwise. After WW, it should have gone back to the Sacred Realm (/Dark World). Ganon and Zelda would have no business possessing their pieces in LoZ, and how exactly did the Triforce of Courage wind up scattered across the land? No, I think it simply makes more sense for LoZ to come after ALttP. Since he was in the Dark World with it at that point, Ganon probably tried to seize the Triforce again, but for the second time, it rejected him and split into three pieces. Ganon died, but the Triforce was not united. He could be revived and reobtain the Triforce of Power, Zelda can keep the Triforce of Wisdom, handing it down until it gets to LoZ Zelda, and there's even room for the AoL backstory to take place somewhere between ALttP and LoZ.

Wary Zelda fans will note that the only games missing from the timeline now are the Oracle games. Honestly, there are a few places they can fit into, but I have a preference. First, why not after TP? It makes sense. Kotake and Koume (Twinrova) would still be alive, and there's no reason it couldn't. But I'll be honest: I prefer placing it at the end of the "adult" timeline, for one reason: the Triforce. At the beginning of OoX, Link is sent on his quest by the Triforce itself, hovering before him in Hyrule Castle. Only — only — at the end of AoL is the Triforce fully assembled in Hyrule Castle. The rest of the plot works out very cleanly. The way I see it, Ganon's minions failed to kill AoL Link and use his blood to revive Ganon. Years later, said Link presumably having died of natural causes, they have to resort to this crazy scheme of lighting the flames of Destruction, Sorrow, and Despair to bring back their king. Ganon even has his Trident, which he obtained in FSA, used again in ALttP, and was mysteriously missing in LoZ (though some ALttP artwork depicting the LoZ Ganon with his Trident may have been an early attempt at a retcon, Or So I Heard). As icing on the cake, you have the Maku Trees, which smack of WW's Great Deku Tree's aspirations of planting trees all around the Great Sea, in an attempt to increase the landmass... Look closely at a couple of maps of Labrynna (from Ages), one of the "past" overworld, the other of the "present" overworld. The past has noticably more water! The size of Tokay Island is smaller, the size of the island in the middle of the Sea of Storms is smaller, a small island suddenly appears in the "present" in the southwest corner — but you really only have to look at eastern Labrynna to see a clear difference. This obvious increase in landmass happens while the Maku Tree grows from a sprout to a huge talking tree. Sure, it could be a coincidence, especially since the Oracle games were made before WW. It probably is a coincidence! But it's an awesome coincidence that just works.

The only problem I can think of with my placement of OoX is Twinrova, who dies in the "adult" timeline of OoT. And that's not even really a problem, depending on how much you trust Zant. In TP, Zant claims that his death means little, as Ganondorf is powerful enough to revive him rather easily. If this is true, I see no reason for Ganon not to revive his surrogate mothers, and he would have had ample opportunities to do so, whether just before the Great Flood, or during WW, or during FSA, or during ALttP, or during LoZ...

And so, I present to you my final draft of the timeline, with a closing statement: Zelda sent Link back to his childhood in OoT, knowing full well that such an action would create a separate reality from her own, one in which none of the evils which had befallen her kingdom in the prior seven years would take place, in which her father would live, the villain would be punished, and the hero rewarded. It was her hope that her actions would create a future for Hyrule that would be free of the destruction, suffering, and despair which plagued her own reality, and, if my theory is correct, by and large she succeeded. At least, until Nintendo decides they want to exploit that timeline for games, too.

MC -> OoT (adult) -> WW/PH -> ST -> FS/FSA -> ALttP/LA -> LoZ/AoL -> OoX

MC -> OoT (child)/MM -> TP

TL;DR Vaati is still alive in the "child" timeline, hurry up Nintendo and put him in a 3D game!

*cough* thank you for reading.

The Timeline will be publicly revealed as a "present" for the 25th (US) aniversy or bonus in the 3DS OoT
.
  • Who posted this? Anyway, confirmed for the former. Response posted by bwburke94 immediately after the reveal.
    • I did.

Stong Radd's theories
  • There isn't really a timeline. It's just a 1-player Super Mario Bros. with a medieval motif.
  • They really do take place in chronological order. None of the Zeldas or Links or any other recurring character are the same respective person.


Rambling Ally's theories

We are all taking a similar route. Maybe it's possible that there are three or more timelines? It's never exactly stated whether or not the timeline spilts at a certain point.

It's possible that during/after Wind Waker, the timeline split again, going on to either Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks or the first two Zelda games. In Spirit Tracks, we are told that WW Link and Tetra had found the large amount of land called New Hyrule. Now imagine if they hadn't found it... Look at the map for the original Zelda game. It's spurned with bodies of water and barely any civilization other than some very old temples and a graveyard. Maybe the land found in the first Zelda games was Hyrule that rose again? OR possibly both Hyrules are living within the same timeline. It's possible that in a different timeline, New Hyrule was found and colonized, leading to the Oracle games, albeit with different names for the mass of land.

Now, many say that there can only be one Link per game arc, but I find that strange. It's never stated that there isn't another Link. A Link is often someone chosen by sheer luck, but a few Links, such as Wind Waker Link (who was outright told that he wasn't the next incarnation), still decide to fight evil and win because they earn their title as a Link. Maybe Link's Awakening took place at the same time as Phantom Hourglass and Wind Waker.

We are to believe that Minish Cap takes place before Ocarina of Time, but very small detail is given whether or not this is true, other than the traditional green hat origin.

Now, all might say that Child Link in Ocarina of Time leads to Twilight Princess. I see that Majora's Mask has connections to the Twili in Twilight Princess, but I feel that it doesn't add up. Maybe the timeline splits again?

Here are two possiblities regarding Majora's Mask:
1-Link left Termina and went back to Hyrule, thus creating Twilight Princess
OR
2-Link stayed, giving a connection to Wind Waker even in the Child timeline.

It's actually possible that Wind Waker could come from Majora's Mask. If Termina didn't exist in the Adult timeline, Wind Waker Hyrule would have been flooded for very little reason other than an ineffective lock on Ganondorf. If my "Stayed in Termina" theory is correct, the influence with the Moon in Majora's Mask might have caused great calamity in Hyrule, such as earthquakes, a messed up calendar, or even massive floods as seen in Wind Waker.

Also, seeing how all Arcs have a Ganondorf, an unexplained Eldritch Abomination, or a Wizard bent on bringing Ganon back, the timelines are often scattered because of the villains. Ganondorf was possibly split into two beings after Ocarina of Time, each given a different lock. In such a scenario, it is most likely that Ganondorf (the humanish form) was imprisoned by the Master Sword while Ganon (the beast form) was imprisoned by a different relic. Twilight Princess holds the idea that both forms escaped at the same time, while Wind Waker only has the Humanish Ganondorf. Maybe in Spirit Tracks, 'Malladus' is possibly a form of Ganon imprisoned by the tracks.

Many other villains can be connected to Majora or the Three Goddesses themselves. Seriously, the oh-so-subtle hints in Majora Mask and Ocarina of Time hint that many of the stranger anatagonists are connected to the Eldritch Abominations. In my theory, Majora and others are possibly Chessmasters in the world of Legend of Zelda (think Higurashi or Umineko, messing with lives for sport).

Maybe all of the games are connected in different universes? Maybe every game splits into different outcomes, connecting to all of the other corresponding games? Don't worry about Timeline Order and try looking at connections no matter what order a game might be in; there are many connections to ALL of the games that are ignored or blown out or proportion.

Sorry for my rambling.

Sick Brit Kid's Theory
As we all very well know, the split timeline is canon. Using the game's I've played and beaten (so both Oracles, Minish Cap, Spirit Tracks, and Skyward Sword aren't gonna be on this list), I'll construct my own version of events and provide explanation.

First off, the divergence dates all the way back to Ocarina of Time itself, which is my starting point.

The first in the timeline is Ocarina, as both the official Nintendo guide (which is an IC guide for the game) and hints provided by other games in the series seem to indicate that OoT chronicled the "Imprisoning War" that Ganon lost. It's also the part wherein he is shown to first gain the Triforce of Power, which he's had throughout the series.

Ocarina of Time -> Timeline Split between the Adult timeline, which Link disappeared from, and the Child Timeline, where he returned.

Adult Timeline then follows as such: Wind Waker (note this is the second awakening of the Master Sword in this Timeline) -> A Link to the Past (this game acknowledges the Imprisoning War, which didn't happen in the Child Timeline. Also, the Master Sword is said to "sleep forever" once Link returns it to the pedestal) -> Link's Awakening (This was the same Link who defeated Ganon in ALttP. IIRC, the instruction manual notes that this Link was "troubled by visions of other Evil after defeating Ganon." This Link later either dies at sea, which would be quite fitting knowing the fate of the Hero of Time, or he hitches a ride with the Wind Fish and returns home to Zelda.) -> The Legend of Zelda (Ganon is in his "pig-sorcerer form", which was a mainstay of the series until the Timeline divergence concept was introduced) -> The Adventure of Link (Ganon in this timeline was probably defeated once and for all, as we see Link reclaiming the Triforce of Power from Ganon's corpse, which was his source of resurrection).

The Child Timeline (which I believe is the current timeline, if Nintendo decided to follow-up Twilight Princess) follows like this: Majora's Mask (Link is explicitly stated to be the Hero of Time. The Hero of Time then probably gets lost in the Lost Woods on his way back from Hyrule, as he has no guiding fairy, and transforms into the Hero's Spirit, which looks exactly like a Stalfos. Either that, or he somehow returned to Hyrule and fathered children with either Malon or Zelda, as the Hero of Twilight IS implied to be descended from the Hero of Time. He then went back to the Lost Woods, I guess, and got lost. OR, for a third option, the Post-Traumatic Stress of the Imprisoning War left him so shellshocked that he never found peace and thus his Spirit remained restless to pass on his techniques to his descendant.) -> Twilight Princess (As stated earlier, the Hero's Spirit, implied to be that of the Hero of Time, refers to Link as "my son", implying that Link is descended from the Hero of Time. And the Hero of Time vanished entirely from the Adult timeline.)

Deuxhero's theroy
While I primarily am of the "There is no real timeline" (see up) mindset, here's my basic frame.

  • The Adventure of Link backstory (Princesses are named Zelda)
  • Minish Cap (Skyward Sword likely comes before or after here, but I'm not making any firm statements until release)
  • OoT
    • Child Timeline
      • Majora's Mask (Direct sequel)
      • Twilight Princess (Ganon(dorf) is exectutedish for his attempted betrayal in OoT)
      • Imprisoning War and A Link to the Past (They can only happen in the Child timeline, as Ganon(dorf) hasn't gotten to the Sacred Realm prior in ALttP's backstory; alternately, ALttP and linked stories takes place before OoT and Link's wish that Ganon(dorf)'s actions be undone is a Reset Button)
      • Link's Awaking (Direct sequel, natch) and The Ancient Stone Tablets (if canon, also direct sequel)
      • Original Legend of Zelda and Adventure of Link (Word of God places them after LttP), there is also too much land for them to be in the once flooded adult timeline
    • Adult Timeline
      • Wind Waker, Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks (natch)

Phil Srobeighn's theory
  • MC -> FS -> FSA

These come first, as the Triforce was worshiped before the Master Sword was forged. The Hero of the Four Swords, after the adventure, travels as an ambassador to another kingdom, where he is observed by that kingdom's hero while sleeping in an inn. He learns of that hero's heritage in yet another world, one dominated by a peculiar religion. Tales of this religion are kept in a separate room of the Hyrule Castle, with portraits of figures from that kingdom, to be revisited later...

  • SS

Then comes the Master Sword.

Next we see the rise of the Hero of Time. He appears in:

  • OoT -> MM -> The CDi games.

As much as I would like to adhere to the No CDi rule, it has to be here. More on that later...

There are two times in which the Hero of Time is returned to where he started after his adventures, and both of these times creates a new timeline, for a total of three timelines corresponding to the three goddesses.

Timeline of Din
  • OoT -> OoS -> WW -> PH -> ST

The Hero of Time travels forward in time seven years. Over seven years, the evil of Ganon so infests the world that, some fifty to seventy years later, when another hero named Link is summoned by the timeline's patron goddess, the forest he is summoned to is still dark with evil. The destruction lights a mythical Flame of Destruction which resonates across all timelines, culminating in a world so dark it must be flooded. Enter Wind Waker, in which the Triforce is set in balance and Ganon is destroyed. The last wish on the Triforce sends the new Link and Tetra on a new journey, and a hundred years later, another Link and Zelda have another adventure.

Timeline of Nayru
  • OoT (averted) -> MM -> OoA -> TP -> ALttP -> LA

The Hero of Time warns of a possible future of destruction, and Ganondorf is imprisoned in the Twilight Realm, which he slowly begins corrupting into the Dark World. The Hero then goes to meet a friend, but disappears and never returns. Some fifty to seventy years later, another hero named Link is summoned by the timeline's patron goddess to a still-light forest. The loss of the Hero of Time at a young age still resonates with such sorrow that the adventure lights a mythical Flame of Sorrow which resonates across all timelines. Again, the hero named Link disappears, and Ganon attempts to free himself using a magic mirror to send the humanoid Ganondorf version of himself from the Twilight Realm he exists in to the Light World, but is defeated. He waits until the bloodline of the Hero of Time is nearly dead, and tries once again, this time masking his humanoid form as a wizard. The last descendant of the Hero of Time arises, and, as per the Triforce, this Hero of the Cataclysm completely destroys Ganon so that the Master Sword may rest forever in the same pedestal-in-what-was-a-temple that was in the same forest-which-once-bordered-the-capital-city that the previous hero retrieved it from. The Hero of the Cataclysm then experiences a shipwreck in which he dreams of a flying whale and having a sword even more powerful than the golden sword which was even more powerful than the Master Sword.

Timeline of Farore

  • OoT -> MM (both averted) -> CDi -> LoZ -> AoL -> OoX combined ending

The Hero of Time earns his title, causing two alternate timelines by trying to return to his life before two major adventures to set right what went wrong. Under his guard, Hyrule Castle and its monarchy remains and Ganon is never banished to an alternate dimension where he can gather godly power. Meanwhile, using skills learned from embedding spirits within masks, the Triforce is deconstructed into powerful artifacts. Ganon eventually escapes into the mortal realm, but stays clear of Hyrule and the Hero of Time, causing a peace which all true warriors strive for. Eventually, he attacks and is trapped into a mythic book. When he escapes, the King of Hyrule decides to fight him head-on using the physical manifestation of the power of the goddesses, the Triforce of Courage. When the Triforce of Courage does not protect him, the resulting agnosticism results in an outbreak of Christianity as long passed in the archives of Hyrule Castle, so that, years later, when the slowly-turning-into-a-pig-creature Ganon is again released, crosses appear as common symbols. Like his earlier confrontation with the Hero of Time, Ganon causes the current Princess Zelda to enter a deep sleep, but she breaks the now-very-tangible Triforce into eight pieces. A series of two adventures restores the Triforce and sees the new Link kill Ganon. Some fifty to seventy years after the life of the Hero of Time, a Princess Zelda is captured by a trans-dimensional witch in a plot that spans three timelines, causing the lighting of the Flame of Despair (Despair being present in the lack of courage, which the patron goddess of this timeline exemplifies). Through another trans-dimensional being, the Heroes named Link of at least two of the timelines are sent through a portal to fight Ganon, who is being resurrected in this timeline (as he is not dead but merely trapped in the other timelines.)

Landis' Theory
Leaving aside ALttP and FS due to lack of familiarity, it is probable that the remaining games are:

SS->MC->...LA->...->OoT->
  • Split:Child:WW->PH->ST->OoS/OoA->Rewrite with kidnap of Zelda and resurrection of Ganon.->...->LoZ->AoL-> "future" games
  • Adult:MM->TP->... OoA/OoS
    • As a Youtube theorist pointed out, neither LoZ nor AoL make any mention of any triforce piece other than Wisdom, which Zelda scattered when Ganon broke out of his seal (for the umpteenth time), nor does the Master Sword make an appearance. We can therefore assume that those particular legends have been lost to the ages. In this way, it makes sense that the first Zelda story arc released is the farthest in the future compared to the others.

josephripken's Theory
Leaving out word of god stuff, in my mind I've always tried to make as many of the games as possible have the same Link. I'm not going to go into the cosmology of the whole universe, just the 6 I've managed to justify to myself as being the same guy. If anyone can justify throwing more of them in, be sure to comment.

1. OoT: it shows him as a kid. If it's not the first in his lifetime, then he was fighting Ganon as a fetus!
2. MM: direct sequel.
3. OOx: features recurring characters and themes from the first two. Link is still travelling outside of Hyrule as he was in MM. Ganon was executed, so it makes sense for there to be a plan to revive him.
4. LoZ: 7 years after OoT. Link, still on his travels, comes upon Impa. Ganon has somehow been revived and has led an army to attack Hyrule! Only Link can gather the Triforce of Wisdom and stop him. (This has a nice effect of having the crapsack world Ganon made in the adult timeline that was erased come full circle.)
5. AoL: Direct sequel. (If you're wondering why the Triforce of Courage isn't on him, I surmised that since after time travel Ganon never got his hands on the Triforce, the first time he does is in LoZ, when Link was traveling.)
6. LA: the manual places it after Ganon's death and it is a dream with symbolism relating to Link's youth. (Such as the talking Owl.)

Kanon's Theory

First off, this theory relies on one specific and very Wild Mass Guess. There are Two Ganons: a blue pigman with a Trident, and the Triforce of Power-owning Wizard Ganondorf. They shall henceforth be referred to as Ganon (Trident) and Ganon (Wizard).

Pre-Timeline Split:

Skyward Sword is first up, Word of God.

Next is Minish Cap, this is practically universal.

Next up is Four Swords (Or not at all, if you don't consider it canon).

Third is Four Swords Adventures; it is here that Ganon (Trident) makes his appearance, stealing the Trident and becoming the Manbearpig. Vatti dies and Ganon (Trident) is sealed in the Four Sword in his place.

OOT comes next, we all know how this goes down, Ganon (Wizard) makes his appearance.

Child Timeline: Majora's Mask, non-debatable.

Twilight Princess, also fairly unanimous. Ganon (Wizard) Dies.

Next is A Link to the Past, the Master Sword being located in the woods and not, you know, Ganon's (Wizard) skull chest is proof enough. Ganon (Trident) Dies.

Link's Awakening, pretty sure this is stated to be ALttP Link.

Oracle game: honestly, these two are troublesome. However, I believe both take place in this timeline, one after the other. They MAY use ALttP Link. My main reason for putting them in this timeline is Twinrova, they would be dead in Adult. Ganon (Trident) is revived and killed once more.

Adult Timeline: Wind Waker. Ganon (Wizard) Dies. Master Sword is lost to the Sea.

Phantom Hourglass. New Hyrule is founded some time after.

Spirit Tracks. These three are non-debatable.

Zelda 1. Ganon (Trident) Dies.

Zelda 2.

Pre-Split: MC > FS > FSA > OoT.

Child Timeline: MM > TP > ALTTP > LA > Oracle.

Adult Timeline: WW > PH > ST > Zelda 1 > Zelda 2 [strikeout]>CDi Games[/strikeout]

There are flaws, however: :There is no explanation for Ganon (Trident) escaping his seal in the Four Sword in either timeline, or how he got to the Dark Realm in ALttP. :Zelda II Zelda being in New Hyrule. I'd like to chalk that one up to 'A Godess did it'.

Finally, Skyward Sword — I'm withdrawing from placing that anywhere until futher information is obtained, but a wild guess puts it inbetween FSA and OoT.

sim83's Theory
First Part: SS <-> MC - (FS/FSA) - OoT

Skyward Sword and Minish Cap could be one way around or the other, I'm pending Skyward Sword to confirm whether or not Hyrule has existed as a kingdom prior. Four Swords and Four Swords Adventure could take place in the meantime, as I consider this Ganon to be different to the one in the other games; either way, after MC or FSA, Ocarina of Time happens and splits the timeline apart.

Adult Timeline: WW - PH - ST - LoZ - AoL - OoX

Wind Waker takes place a long time after Ocarina of Time, and in that time, the Master Sword has been moved specifically to serve as Hyrule's seal, and there is a statue honouring the Hero of Time; yet, even pre-flood, his age was forgotten. Six of the sages are also honoured in the castle, as is the Triforce. Finally, there are two portraits — one of Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, the last King, and one of the last Princess Zelda, his daughter, and her courtiers, who are ancestors to Tetra's crew. The Triforce of Courage split into fragments when its bearer disappeared from the world, and remained hidden. After the flood, the Zora evolve into the Rito, possibly via the interference of Jabun or Valoo, and the Kokiri become the Koroks when they leave the forest. In Phantom Hourglass, the World of the Ocean King is a section of the Great Sea, but was formerly an Ocean even before the Great Flood; the Gorons on the sea are a tribe which moved there across the sea long before the flood. At the end, Link, Tetra, Linebeck, and the Ghost Ship are sent back in time to 10 minutes after Link boarded the ship by Ciela's power. Spirit Tracks follows this with a new land that has been discovered, 100 years later. Alfonzo is Gonzo's descendant, and Niko is possibly the only survivor of the crew, given he has at least two of Link's possessions. The guard uniform is in honour of the Hero of Winds, while Tetra became the first reigning Princess of the new Kingdom. Spirit Track's Link is of no relation to the Hero of Winds, who may have married Tetra. By the time of Legend of Zelda, the door to the sacred realm has been remade, and the Triforce claimed by the king mentioned in Adventure of Link's backstory. Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages' Twinrova are followers of Ganon who escape and plan to revive him.

Child Timeline: MM - TP - (FS-FSA) - ALttP - LA/KnS - OoX

Majora's Mask features the Hero of Time, searching for Navi; in the end, he returns home to Hyrule, and ultimately settles down and has children, but never teaches anyone his skills until he dies. When he came back from the past, he still has the Triforce of Courage; this causes the rest of the Triforce to split, Wisdom becoming Zelda's, and Ganondorf receiving Power. Ganondorf, however, either does not realise he has, or decides not to use, the Triforce of Power until his execution. His seeming disinterest in obtaining the remainder of the Triforce is because he considers himself blessed by the gods to have received any of it at all, in comparison to his Wind Waker self, who could have had it all, only for it to slip through his fingers. The Hero's Shade is the Hero of Time, and the ancestor of Twilight Princess's Link. Ordon Province, though not part of Hyrule proper, is in the former south of Hyrule Field and on close terms with Hyrule. Hyrule Castle is moved up north as well, though the Temple of Time is left in ruins and eventually becomes the new Lost Woods. Four Sword and Four Sword Adventure could also take place here given the geography of Four Swords Adventure compared to A Link to the Past. A Link to the Past either involves a revived Twilight Princess Ganon, or Four Sword Adventures Ganon who escaped his seal in the Four Sword, only to be trapped in the Sacred Realm, but able to claim the Triforce. The Imprisoning War is a combination of Four Sword Adventures, tales told about the Hero of Time which have naturally been interpreted as having taken place in that timeline, and possibly some other events if ALttP Ganon is TP Ganon. ALttP is then followed by Link's Awakening for Link himself, and Kodai no Sekiban/Ancient Stone Tablets in Hyrule with a different Hero. This timeline finishes off with Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons in the opposite order to how they happen in the Adult Timeline, though here Twinrova is possibly the one from Ocarina of Time. Still Pending on where to place Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, possibly pre-Minish Cap.
Elven Queen's theory
The very first thing that happens in the chronology is that the goddesses create Hyrule and all of the races in it, then leave behind the Triforce; the resting place of the Triforce is the Sacred Realm. The Oocca are attacked by the Twili, who are banished into the Twilight Realm by the goddesses; the Oocca find the City in the Sky, some Hylians find Skyloft, and the Sages build the Temple of Time. The first game in the timeline is SS; the Skyward Sword becomes the Master Sword and is placed in the Temple of Time. Several centuries pass, and a civil war breaks out in Hyrule over the Triforce; the events of OoT take place. When Zelda sends Link back to his childhood, the timeline is split into two.

On the adult timeline side of OoT, Ganon(dorf) is sealed in the Sacred Realm, which becomes the Evil Realm/Dark World. Centuries later, Ganon uses Agahnim as a puppet in an attempt to break out of the Dark World, the events of ALttP take place, and Link kills Ganon and takes the Triforce to Hyrule Castle. Koume and Kotake (who revived themselves after their battle with Link in OoT) plot to resurrect Ganon, and the events of OoS and OoA take place, ending with Ganon being defeated. Centuries pass, Ganondorf returns, and since there's no Link to stop him, the goddesses flood Hyrule to prevent Ganondorf from taking over. Time passes (decades?), the events of WW occur, and Ganondorf is defeated for good. PH is the direct sequel to WW, Link gets caught in a storm, the events of LA occur, a hundred years pass, and ST is the last game in the adult timeline.

On the child timeline side of OoT, Ganondorf is put on trial, but instead of being executed (which doesn't work thanks to the Triforce of Power), he's banished into the Twilight Realm. A year later, Link leaves Hyrule, is attacked by Skull Kid, and the events of MM take place. Link manages to return to Hyrule, at least a couple of centuries pass, and the events of TP occur. Many, many centuries pass (during which the back stories of both AoL and MC occur), and the events of MC take place; the events of FS occur a few years later, with FSA being a direct sequel. Ganondorf is sealed into the Four Sword, and after a few centuries or so, he breaks out, steals the Triforce of Power, kidnaps Zelda, and the events of LoZ take place, with the events of AoL occuring two years later.

In summary:
  • Before the Split: SS — OoT
  • Adult Timeline: ALttP, OoS, OoA — WW, PH, LA — ST
  • Child Timeline: MM — TP — MC, FS, FSA — LoZ, AoL

Astfgl407's Theory
  • Pre-split: SS — MC, FS, FSA — OoT
  • Child Timeline: MM — TP — ALttP, LA — OoX
  • Adult Timeline: WW, PH — ST — LoZ, AoL

Ok. First, the placement of Skyward Sword is something of a guess as it hasn't come out yet, and it could well go between Minish Cap and Four Swords (although no later). Second, any mistakes are likely due to the fact I've only played Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. The rest of my information is largely from Zeldapedia.

I've built up this timeline based on three constants in the Zelda games: Ganon and Ganondorf; the Master Sword; the Triforce.

We start with Ganon/Ganondorf. Ganondorf first becomes Ganon prior to the events of FSA, when he enters the sacred Pyramid and transformed into Ganon. At the end of the game, he is defeated by the four Links and sealed in the Four Sword. Sometime after this, he escapes the seal of the Four Sword (possibly with help from Koume and Kotake) as Ganondorf, and he becomes leader of the Gerudo again. He explains his acts as the result of possession, and by aiding the King of Hyrule during the civil war, he is able to gain his trust.

This leads into the events of OoT, wherin Ganondorf has established himself as a trusted ally of Hyrule. During the game, he betrays the King and, with Link’s unwitting help, breaks into the Sacred Realm. This leads to the split in the timeline.

After gaining the Triforce of Power, Ganondorf successfully takes over Hyrule before being defeated by Link and sealed again, this time in the Sacred Realm. Link is sent back in time and is removed from the adult timeline, but his heroic spirit remains. Over time, Ganondorf manages to escape the Sacred Realm, leading to the flooding of Hyrule and the creation of the Great Sea. Eventually, Link is born on Outset Island and the events of WW occur. Ganondorf is unsealed, and then he is killed by Link. Ganondorf is now dead in the adult timeline. However, Ganon is still alive.

Link and Tetra found New Hyrule, and Ganon finds his way there during the centuries following WW. Eventually, when New Hyrule has fallen into ruin, Ganon begins to gain power and followers. However, a new Link is born and the events of LoZ occur. Ganon is finally killed by the silver arrows, and now both Ganon and Ganondorf are dead.

In the child timeline, Ganondorf is captured before he can access the Sacred Realm. The sages attempt to execute him, but he escapes into the Twilight Realm. Here, he poses as a god and manipulates Zant in order to invade Hyrule. He fights Link as both himself and Ganon, but he is killed on Hyrule Field. Ganon, however, lives on, and is sealed in the Sacred Realm.

Ganon warps the Sacred Realm into his own image, and projects himself into Hyrule as the wizard Agahnim. The events of ALttP end as Ganon is confronted and killed by Link. However, his surrogate mothers, Koume and Kotake, are still alive in the child timeline, and during the events of OoT they attempt to revive him. Ganon is briefly revived as a mindless beast before being killed for the last time.

So from this, we are given the order:
  • FSA – OoT (child) – TP – LttP – OoX
  • .........OoT (adult) – WW – LoZ

Now, the Master Sword. The Master Sword is created sometime during SS, although it is not yet known what happened to it following this. It is later found by Link during the events of FS, where it can be obtained in the Realm of Memories. Following the events of this game, the Master Sword is housed in the Temple of Time until it is needed again.

During the events of OoT, Link unlocks the Door of Time and pulls out the Master Sword from its pedestal. He uses the Master Sword to defeat Ganon in the adult timeline before he is sent back in time. At this point, the Master Sword remains in the adult timeline, although changes to the child timeline when Link returns to the past mean it also exists there. Adult Zelda takes the Master Sword and stores it underneath Hyrule Castle.

During WW, Link explores Hyrule Castle and discovers the Master Sword. He takes it and uses it to kill Ganondorf, at which point he leaves it in Ganondorf’s head. The Master Sword is therefore lost under the sea and is never used again in the adult timeline.

At the end of OoT, the Master Sword still exists in the child timeline and is left in the Temple of Time. However, between OoT and TP, the Master Sword moves to the Sacred Grove in the Lost Woods through the intervention of the goddesses. It is found here during TP, and is then replaced following Ganondorf’s defeat.

During ALttP, another Link finds the Master Sword in the Lost Woods and uses it to defeat Ganon. He too replaces it in the pedestal, and (according to the text) it is never used again. However, a second Master Sword is forged during the events of OoX, which Link can use in his adventure.

So from this, we are given the order:
  • SS – FS – OoT (child) – TP – LttP – OoX
  • ..............OoT (adult) – WW

Finally, the Triforce. The Triforce first appears during SS. During the game Link finds and assembles the Triforce in the Silent Realm (which I think is the Sacred Realm). It then reappears in OoT, where it is intact and hidden in the Sacred Realm. During Ganondorf’s attack on Hyrule, the Triforce is broken into three pieces (Wisdom, Courage, and Power) and goes to Zelda, Link, and Ganondorf, respectively. After Ganondorf’s defeat in the adult timeline, he and Zelda both retain their pieces, but the Triforce of Courage is broken after Link vanishes, and is scattered across Hyrule.

During WW, Link finds the pieces of the Triforce of Courage and brings them to Ganon’s Tower. Tetra, descended from OoT's Zelda, already holds the Triforce of Wisdom, and Ganondorf still retains the Triforce of Power from Oo T. When the three come together, the Triforce is reunited and used to flood the remains of Hyrule. The Triforce once again splits into three, and each bearer is reunited with their respective piece.

Long after the events of WW, Ganon finds his way to New Hyrule (now known simply as Hyrule). He retains the Triforce from the events of WW, and the Zelda of this game holds the Triforce of Wisdom, which has been passed down from her ancestor, Tetra. The Triforce of Courage has been passed to Royal Family for safekeeping, and is stored in the Great Palace. Prior to LoZ, Zelda breaks the Triforce of Wisdom into eight shards and hides them from Ganon. Link then gathers them during the game, and he takes the Triforce of Power from Ganon after defeating him. In AoL, he also obtains the Triforce of Courage from the Great Palace, thus reuniting the Triforce once more.

In the child timeline, the Triforce remains intact in the Sacred Realm until the events of ALttP, wherein it is transferred to Hyrule Castle and remains there. Link visits Hyrule Castle during OoX, where he finds the intact Triforce.

So from this, we are given the order:
  • OoT (child) – ALttP – OoX
  • OoT (adult) – WW – LoZ, AoL

If we take these three timelines, we can merge the information we are given to get:

  • (FSA) – SS – (FSA) – FS – (FSA) – OoT (child) – TP – ALttP – OoX
  • ..................................................OoT (adult) – WW – LoZ, AoL

We are missing LA, MC, MM, PH, and ST, and FSA is not clearly placed. However, this is easily cleared up.

Vaati appears in three games – FS, FSA, and MC. MC chronicles his first appearance, and he transforms from his Minish form into the giant eyeball he is in FS and FSA. Thus, MC precedes both these games. Vaati begins both FS and FSA sealed in the Four Sword, but FS ends with him sealed again, while FSA ends with his death. Thus, the order is MC, FS, FSA.

PH is a direct sequel to WW, featuring the same Link and Tetra from the previous game, and thus goes immediately after WW. ST also incorporates WW and PH into its backstory and contains many references which place it after these two games, thus giving the order WW, PH – ST.

LA’s final boss, Nightmare, morphs into the forms of Moldorm, Agahnim, and Ganon, amongst others. While Moldorm and Ganon are both recurring bosses, only the Link from ALttP ever fought Agahnim. Therefore, this puts LA as a direct sequel to ALttP on the timeline.

MM directly references OoT and is a clear sequel to the game, so is thus placed directly after the child timeline of OoT.

Some argue that OoX should happen prior to LA, since OoX ends with Link sailing away and LA begins with him shipwrecked. However, OoX’s Link meets Zelda for the first time in these games, and I have already placed LA as being a sequel to ALttP.

Thus, we are left with the timeline:

  • SS – MC – FS – FSA – OoT (child), MM – TP – ALttP, LA – OoX
  • .................................OoT (adult) – WW, PH – ST – LoZ, AoL

Raptyr's Timeline Theory

  • This theory is one of the split timeline theories, and I have tried to ensure its cohesion.

With the release of several of the recent games, most of the timeline has already been put together, and requires no debate.

Adult Timeline
SS -> OoT -> WW -> PH -> ST
Child Timeline
SS -> OoT -> MM -> TP

All of this data has been confirmed. Thus, the games in need of review are MC, FSAnote , OoS/OoA, ALttP, LA, LoZ, and AoL.

FSA follows behind MC, LA follows ALttP, and AoL follows LoZ, thus putting three pieces of the puzzle mostly together. Next, it's a case of looking at plot points in the earlier games to see which ones match up.

With the events of ST, and New Hyrule only having been settled for 100 years, this is the right avenue of time for the events of MC. Because the Picori are only visible to children, and the door only opening once in a hundred years, it is entirely possible that Toon Link and Tetra noticed the Lokomos, but missed the opportunity to consult with the Picori, something that can plausibly take place soon after the events of ST. This, of course, leads to MC, probably 200 or so years after ST. Thus, the timeline becomes as follows:

Adult Timeline: SS -> OoT -> WW -> PH -> ST -> MC -> FSA

Support for this is evidenced by the fact that neither MC or FSA have the Master Sword or the Triforce, which were sealed away in Old Hyrule. They do, however, have force gems.

Next, we return to the Child timeline. With Ganondorf's death in TP, and the continued existence of the Triforce and Master Sword, Ganon's loss of the Triforce of Power, and the continued exixtence of Twinrova, the stage is set for the next game immediately to be OoS/OoA. Since Ganon has been resurrected as a mindless beast in a semicorporeal form, he must be sealed, not killed. These events set the stage for ALttP, which FS/FSA was a remake of. Seeing as we've already placed FSA in the adult timeline, ALttP cannot take place there. Without the Triforce, Ganon raids the Sacred Realm to attain it, transforming it into a wasteland, which, thanks to the split timeline, had not occurred in the child timeline. Naturally, LA follows this, being most probably the child version of PH.

The last and, probably the hardest piece to fit in, are the original games. They have very few things in common with the later canon, and a lack of elements such as the Master Sword means that it could fit into either timeline. In the end, despite all of the differences with the original elements, due to the presence of Ganon and the Triforce, LoZ and AoL fit most smoothly at the very end of the Child timeline. In the end, there is a very easy way to rectify most of these problems, without altering anything said in any of the games. As noted by Fi in SS, oral tradition is a horrible way to keep track of history. And with all of the destruction that befalls Hyrule, written word probably isn't too accurate either.

Thus, the timelines come out as follows: SS -> OoT -> WW -> PH -> ST -> MC -> FSA SS -> OoT -> MM -> TP -> OoS/OoA -> ALttP -> LA -> LoZ -> AoL

The only snag in this is the presence of Ganon at the end of FSA. But, for this, we probably can probably blame Vaati and his power-hunger.

Steve T, Masamune, and Luigi of the Pipes's Triforce of Time theory
It all started when the Hero of Time, Link, was born. This event marked the first convergence of two sides of the Triforce of Time.

Link's mother, Princess Zelda, held ancient future knowledge regarding the whereabouts of the Triforce of Courage, and her jealous brother demanded it from her. Meanwhile, war broke out in Hyrule. In the strife that followed, Zelda deposited her son with the Great Deku Tree, who raised him as a Kokiri. Zelda herself, as told in the Adventure of Link back-story, was put to sleep by a wizard in her brother's employ. Although the wizard certainly had not planned it this way, Zelda slept backwards through time, rejuvenating as she did so (this will make sense later).

Eventually, Ganon came to Hyrule. Link then became involved in the familiar plot of Ocarina of Time. With Ganon sealed in a prison that transcended time, Link was free to relive those seven years in the comfort of the Kokiri Woods. In fact, he resided there much longer than seven years, and prolonged exposure to Deku Tree magic combined with Princess Zelda's (not the same as the sleeping Zelda, obviously) rejuvenating spell permanently slowed Link's rate of aging, even after he left the Kokiri forest. (Ocarina of Time)

Link then was lured into Termina by the Skull Kid. There, he saved Termina, and in a feat of dramatic irony completely failed to realize that just as Termina was locked in a time loop to prevent its own destruction, Hyrule was in a much larger time triangle to prevent its salvation. This irony was not lost on Tingle, as shall be shown. (Majora's Mask)

Due to the unpredictable nature of inter-dimensional travel, when Link left Termina, he found that Hyrule had long ago been destroyed and was now a system of islands. (Not that he remembered Hyrule. Link was a chronic amnesiac — the rejuvenating spells affected his mind as well as his body.) He was adopted by a kindly old woman, who took mercy on this homeless piece of driftwood. He lovingly referred to her as “grandmother” and partook of her excellent soup. Soon enough, Link found himself on a pirate ship on a quest to save his “sister”. Soon enough after that, he was on a quest to stop Ganon from stealing the Triforce.

The King of Red Lions and Jabun explicitly stated that this Link was not the Hero of Time. Shows what they know.

Anyways, Link defeated Ganon, but not entirely. Ganon, the Villain of Time, had the favor of the goddesses. It was their wish for Hyrule to be lost beneath the sea. Here, the timeline would have straightened. However, King Hyrule's final wish was to bring hope to Hyrule. That hope could only be achieved in one way: by repairing the past. (The Wind Waker)

While the Triforce was thinking about a plan, Link sailed off with Tetra's crew, got caught in a storm, and probably had a lucid dream (or maybe not!). I don't really know what was going on there. (Phantom Hourglass)

Later on, the Triforce yanked Link from the new land he would have settled, and dropped him at the doorstep of a friendly knight of Hyrule centuries earlier. The knight took in the boy with no memory, and Link became fond of him, and called him his uncle.

Unbeknownst to Link, he had arrived in Hyrule just before Ganon had freed himself to wreak the havoc that resulted in the flooding of Hyrule. As chronicled in Link to the Past, Link averted this disaster by preventing Ganon from ever escaping the Dark World. This completed the right-hand corner of the triangle. (A Link to the Past)

Link's uncle became a blacksmith, and on the day he sprouted his first grey hair, Link began to call him “grandpa.” Having already forgotten the events of ALttP, Link embraced the power of the Four Sword to defeat the upstart wizard Vaati, with the aid of his new ally, Ezlo. (The Minish Cap)

Thereafter, Link began to wonder why he did not age like the other people of Hyrule. As if to prevent him from realizing who he was, the Triforce intervened and sent him on a quest in the distant lands of Holodrum and Labrynna. Distant in the future, that is. (Oracles)

The Oracle games constitute another corner of the Triforce of Time. Had Link not prevented the resurrection of Ganon, Ganon would have again succeeded in straightening the timeline, and many a good thing would have failed to happen.

After bending time once more, and forgetting who he was once more, Link used the Four Sword to defeat Vaati again. Twice. The second time, he encountered Ganondorf for the first time. That is to say, Ganon was born on this side of the triangle. (Four Swords, Four Swords Adventure)

After this, Link engaged in his ancient hobby of sailing. He was summarily shipwrecked. The goddesses had sent a vicious storm in their anger over their timeline being turned into a triangle. Their plan failed, however, and Link found himself in the mind of the Wind Fish, where he defeated the Nightmare. The Wind Fish, however, had slumbered for centuries from the point of view of Hyrule, and by the time he awoke, and consequently by the time Link returned to reality, centuries had passed. (Link's Awakening).

Hyrule had changed so much that Link could hardly consider himself a citizen of it, assuming he even knew who or where he was. His first action was to save an old woman named Impa from a group of Moblins. She begged him to collect pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom and defeat Ganon, which he gladly did, since he didn't really have much going on at the moment. (The Legend of Zelda)

He then went on to awaken the sleeping Princess Zelda, who after her slumber back through time, was a young woman again. (The Adventure of Link)

Link married Zelda and helped rebuild Hyrule. Nine months later, the timetrangle converged, and Link was born.

RYNO's Theory
  • SS - OoT (timeline splits)
  • MM - TP - ALttP - LA - LoZ - AoL - OoS
  • WW - PH - ST - MC - FS - FSA - OoA

Bentheechidna's Theory
Ever since Skyward Sword came out, I've been compiling what I believe is the most solid form of the Zelda timeline with current evidence.

  • |Key|
    • [Undisputable]
    • {#} = Footnote
    • ++ = Related Somehow
    • -> = Leads to
    • +> = Possibly Leads to
    • -x = cannot lead to

  • [Skyward Sword -> Ocarina of Time]
  • OoT(Adult1){3} -> [ALttP -> LA] -> [LoZ -> AoL]{4} +> OoA & OoS{2}{11}
  • OoT(Adult2){3} -> [WW -> PH -> ST] -x OoA & OoS{6}
  • OoT(Adult2){3} -> [WW -> PH -> ST] -x MC{9}
  • FSA -x WW{9}
  • [OoT(Child) -> MM] -> TP{1} +> OoA & OoS{2}{5}
  • TP +> [MC -> FS -> FSA]{7}
  • FS ++ ALttP
  • ALttP +> MC +> LoZ{8}{10}

  • Footnotes
    • 1. Eiji Aonuma stated that after Link is sent back to his childhood in Ocarina of Time, he talks to Princess Zelda again, Ganondorf is arrested, sentenced to execution, but after the execution fails, he is banished to the Twilight Realm.
    • 2. Oracle of Ages/Seasons can be placed within any timeline in which Ganon(dorf) died, after he died, because the plot of the game revolves around reviving Ganon.
    • 3. I split Ocarina of Time's Adult timeline into two split timelines because Ganon dies at the end of A Link to the Past, and both a Link to the Past and Wind Waker contain Ganon having started in the Evil Realm, which he was sealed in at the end of Ocarina of Time's Adult timeline. In Wind Waker, Ganon escapes the Evil Realm. During the course of A Link to the Past, Agahnim seeks to revive Ganon, and ultimately Link confronts Ganon within the Evil Realm, and kills him.
    • 4. In the instruction manual for A Link to the Past, it is stated that the Link of a Link to the Past is the ancestor of the first game's Link.
    • 5. Placing Oracle of Ages/Seasons is highly debatable here because Ganondorf's final fate in Twilight Princess isn't confirmed. But this could be highly possible since in this Timeline, Twinrova had never died, and therefore would be able to be in this game without resurrecting themselves.
    • 6. The Zora appear in Oracle of Ages/Seasons, and in Wind Waker, the Zora no longer exist as they have evolved into the Rito.
    • 7. Ganondorf's fate is unconfirmed in Twilight Princess, so if he survived, he could have gone on to be in Four Swords Adventures.
    • 8. This is possible should Ganondorf have been revived between A Link to the Past and Four Swords Adventures, but would also require that he escapes the Four Sword between Four Sword Adventures and the original Zelda.
    • 9. There are Zora in Four Swords Adventures, but, again, the Zora have evolved into the Rito in Wind Waker. Another problem this presents is that Wind Waker leads directly off of Ocarina, with Ganondorf being trapped in the Evil Realm and escaping, and due to Link not showing up to stop him in time, the world is flooded. Link is present in Four Swords continuity and actually seals Ganon, which means it cannot come before Wind Waker either.
    • 10. It is possible that in the Evil Realm, Ganon stored a piece of himself in his trident and sent it to the Light World, and then possessed someone who wanted power when they took his trident. Ganon(dorf) has the ability to possess people, as shown in Twilight Princess and with Agahnim from A Link to the Past.
    • 11. Placing the Oracle games in this timeline would make a lot of sense, as they would be reviving Ganon, rather than Ganondorf, because Ganondorf's original body had been killed in A Link to the Past, and if it follows after Zelda II, it would make sense since Zelda II's villain motivation was to revive Ganon.

Oracle Seven's Theory

My timeline adheres to the split, since it's canon and makes sense if you think about it anyway. I also like to add in events that are referenced in the games — actual game names will be in bold to make them visible.

TIMELINE START:

Goddesses create Hyrule/Triforce | | Dark Interloper War | | Skyward Sword | | Hyrulian Civil War | Ocarina of Time (TIMELINE SPLIT)

Hyrule starts off with Hylians living in it; they find the Triforce and start up a civilization that's responsible for ALL the Schizo Tech in the later games. Eventually, there are repeated wars over the Triforce. One of these wars was the Dark Interloper War, when the ancestors of the Twili are banished to the Twilight Realm. Some of the Hylians retreat to flying islands to escape all the fighting, leading to SS. After SS, they return to living on the ground (leaving places like City in the Sky behind), the Triforce is rediscovered, and the Hyrulian Royal Family (descendants of Zelda and Link from SS) fights a war to maintain control over the region. During that war, a Hylian woman with the infant that will be the Hero of Time flees into the Kokiri Forest — thus setting up OoT. Then the timeline splits thanks to all that time travel mucking things up.

OoT (Child) -> Ganondorf's coup prevented, Ganondorf sent to Twilight Realm -> Majora's Mask —-> Twilight Princess —-> A Link to the Past —-> Oracle of Ages/Seasons

The Hero of Time uses his future-knowledge to prevent Ganondorf from killing the king and gets him imprisoned by the Sages. That Link then goes in search of Navi, confident in a job well-done, unaware that the Sages were only able to fling Ganondorf into the Twilight Realm and not actually end him (though he DOES gets turned into a spirit in the Twilight, which slows him down for a while). Then Majora's Mask happens, wherein Link gets to play with time even more (probably making multiple timelines for Termina in the process, not that it matters because Termina is destroyed in pretty much all of them). That Link ends up becoming the Hero's Shade after getting trapped in Lost Woods on the way back.

After a while, Ganondorf uses his new spirit-ness to his advantage, makes a new body for himself, escapes the Twilight Realm in TP, and gets stabbed with the Master Sword. The body dies, but Ganon's spirit survives and he eventually possesses a wizard that makes him yet another new body to inhabit in ALttP. The Dark World is in fact the same ruined Sacred Realm from the Adult Timeline: since the Hero of Time passed through it so often, it can be accessed by people in both timelines. Unfortunately for Ganon, TP Link's descendants remained good friends and loyal servants of TP Zelda's descendants (though the 'Divine Beast' has been downgraded from a wolf to a bunny) and Ganon gets himself Killed Off for Real. Later on, Twinrova attempts to revive him (since she dies in the Adult Timeline, that sets the Oracle games in the Child one), but OoX Link puts a stop to it.

OoT (Adult) —> Flooding of Hyrule —> Wind Waker -> Phantom Hourglass -> Hero of Winds or his son helps forge the Picori Sword to replace the Master Sword during the founding of New Hyrule —> Spirit Tracks ——> Minish Cap -> Four Swords -> Four Swords Adventures ——> a Zelda is put into an enchanted sleep, Christianity imported to New Hyrule from neighbors ——> Legend of Zelda -> Adventure of Link -> Link's Awakening

OoT through ST is canon. Everything in ST and beyond takes place in New Hyrule, which allows for extremely different geography, neighbors importing strange religions, and the naming of towns after Oo T sages. The 'hero in green' from the Picori legend is in fact either WW Link making a replacement for the Master Sword stuck in Ganondorf's head under the sea, or his kid having an adventure in green on his birthday like his dad did.

ST Link and ST Zelda's families remain EXTREMELY close after the game, which is why Link and Zelda are already friends in MC. FS and FSA are set a few years later. Sometime later, New Hyrule's neighbor Catalina imports Christianity, and since this Hyrule isn't actually IN the 'Land of the Gods', it gains a following relatively quickly. During the long gap between ST and LoZ, the train system breaks down, as the Demon King is gone and the tracks were his 'chains'. The Ganon in LoZ is the Ganon from FSA doing the spiritual reincarnation thing, but the Silver Arrows make him also Killed Of For Real. His minions try to revive him using Link's blood but that fails due to Link beating them all up.

Afterward, that Link tries sailing out to the Great Sea for more adventure, only to find Windfish Island. The Windfish is in fact Jabun from WW aka Lord Jabu-Jabu from OoT.

There are in fact only TWO Ganondorfs in all of the games with this timeline. For comparison, there's nine Links and ten Zeldas. The Master Sword first appears in the Zelda universe in SS, gets stuck in Ganon's head in WW/sealed forever in ALttP, and never appears again — the 'Master Sword' you can get in the Oracle games is a really nice sword you can get made for you, but it's not THE Master Sword. The Triforce likes to bounce between timelines — TP Ganon has his Triforce while OoT-WW Ganon is sealed, then loses it right when the seal breaks (which is conveniently moments after TP Ganon gets impaled by the Master Sword).

Mr Zimpy's Timeline
From first game in timeline to recent game in timeline.

  • Skyward Sword (First Link, has child with Zelda, names son Link. Demise is reborn as Ganon.)

  • Minish Cap (Not Son of Link, a regular kid who idolized Link and takes his name. Vaati is the vessel for Demise to become Ganon.)

  • Four Sword/ Four Sword Adventure (Are the same story, the Link here is the same Link and Zelda from Minish Cap, they are mistaken as the heroes in later games. Skyward Sword Link is forgotten in time. Vaati now became Ganon.)

  • Ocarina of Time (Son of Link from SS, orphaned in Forest. Ganondorf is possessed with spirit of Ganon, Ganondorf has nothing to do with Demise, he got his name from the ancient Gerudo God, Ganondromus, King God of Sand and Thievery.)

  • Majora's Mask (Two years after Ocarina, same Link from Ocarina, who was sent back in time as a child. He is actually 17 years old in the body of a child to "relieve his childhood".)

  • Wind Waker (Grandson of Hero of Time, despite what the rumors say, he is brought into Legend like his grandfather.)

  • Phantom Hourglass (Same Link from WW, the new world is still being created.)

  • Spirit Tracks (Same Link from WW and PH, new world is now coming together.)

  • Twilight Princess (Son of Link from WW, he now resides in new world. Ganondorf has been reborn from Black Magic from the Gerudo followers who reincarnated him as his young body from Ocarina, he was quickly imprisoned and executed.)

  • Link to the Past (Great Grandson of Link from TP, Ganon has taken physical form from the Triforce, creating the Dark World. Ganon is destroyed but he lived on because Link was supposed to shoot an arrow in both of his eyes. He only shot one eye and killed him temporarily.)

  • Link's Awakening (Same Link as LttP)

  • Oracle of Ages/Seasons (Twin sons of Link from Awakening, happens at the same time. Whoever you play as after linking games and fighting Ganon is the one who fights Ganon and died. (For example, if you played Ages first, Seasons Link died after the battle, succumbed to wounds, and became a vessel for Ganon to become reborn again.) Link (one who never fights Ganon) goes on to have a child who becomes protagonist in...)

  • The Legend of Zelda (Son of Link from oracle game you play first, Linked together!Ganon is reborn and is officially killed off when Link shoots arrows into both eyes.)

  • Adventure of Link (Same Link from TLOZ, finishes off Ganon forever, this is the current Zelda game in timeline.)

Zelda changes in each game too. Zelda from Skyward Sword is mother of Link from Ocarina of Time, that Zelda from Ocarina is named after the Zelda from Skyward Sword and has no relation to Link or Zelda from Skyward Sword. Link from Ocarina ages and is now 18 years old five years after Majora's Mask. When he reached that age, he married Malon from Ocarina and they have children. Malon is Link's grandmother from WW. Zelda in WW is from the royal bloodline, her mother they refer to in the game is the Zelda from Ocarina who turned her daughter into a child again, Tetra is actually 57 but looks like a 15 year old, which is how old Link was from that game. The Zelda from TLOZ is the daughter of TP Zelda, who was never a princess but was a decoy for the real princess, who died many years ago by the hand of Ganondorf. AoL Zelda was the real Zelda who was killed in the events of TP, not put to sleep, and was brought back to life from that Link. Ganondorf officially died after TP, and Ganon is a demon from Demise who is now given physical form after wishing himself a body and possessing Link from Oracle who fought him.

Neptune CA's Single Timeline Theory
(Note: I don't take into account any Word of God stuff, mainly because that's only good until they change their minds. If it can't be found in the games or the manuals, it doesn't count.)

Timeline: SS - Oo T - MM - TP - WW - PH - ST - MC - FS - FSA - Ltt P - LA - LBW - Lo Z - Ao L - Oo X

Methods: First, I broke the games down into ones that are clearly connected, which looks like this - Ao L, Ltt P/LA, Ltt P/LBW, Oo T/MM, Oo T/TP, Oo T/WW, WW/PH/ST, MC/FS/FSA, and Oo A.

From there, I started arranging them into a timeline, starting with the ones of least debate and going from there. So Ltt P is a prequel to Lo Z and LBW is a sequel to Ltt P, but with a different Link. Oo T is also a prequel to Ltt P, and SS is currently the official first game (it does depict the founding of Hyrule, after all). So that already does a lot of work, giving us SS - Oo T - MM - Ltt P - LA - LBW - Lo Z - Ao L.

Here's where it starts to need more explanation. TP happens at least a century after Oo T and the events of that game are referenced directly, so it goes after MM. WW also directly references the Hero of Time and happens several centuries after Oo T; this is the last we see of the original Hyrule. WW is followed by PH (with the same Link) and then by ST (with a different one). It's in this new Hyrule that MC happens, followed by FS and FSA. In FSA, Ganondorf gains the Trident of Power and turns into his blue pig form, in which he stays for the rest of the timeline. After an untold amount of time, Ltt P and the rest of the timeline happen, ending with the Oracle games. They're placed last because the main plot of the linked game involves resurrecting Ganon, which continues Ao L's plot of trying to resurrect Ganon. It also gives a possible explanation of why the Master Sword is nowhere to be found in the first two games: it's in either Holodrum or Labrynna at the time.

     Guesses from 2012 or later (post-HH) 

There is no timeline.
All major Nintendo franchises reuse the same ideas over and over. Character design is rarely altered unless graphical upgrades call for it, Peach gets kidnapped, Pokemon trainers combat Team Something, Samus loses her weapons, Link battles an evil wizard. Nintendo just doesn't place any emphasis on story because it doesn't matter. It all comes down to gameplay.

Four Swords Adventures isn't really last (bwburke94)
Given that it's an apparent sequel to FS, why should it go four games and many different Links later? Nintendo is screwing with us here.

Nintendo is trolling/trying to distract us
According to this new official timeline, LoZ, AoL, ALttP, and LA are all part of a what-if storyline, as in "What if Link lost to Ganon at the end of Ocarina of Time?" I call bullshit. You're going to say that the very first game that caused your success canonically never happened?

Also, the Four Swords series's placement is very icky. There is no evidence that Minish Cap ever came before Ocarina of Time, especially since there is a lot of evidence stating that all 3 Four Swords games lead directly into eachother, and Ganon is in Four Swords Adventures. There's also the debate that Ganondorf died at the end of Twilight Princess (with evidence that Zant committed suicide to finish Ganondorf off, and Link being able to retrieve his sword from Ganondorf's body), which would mean he could not be in Four Swords Adventures.

Oh and the worst is the Four Swords series's geography. The geography across all 3 games is inconsistent, but 2 of them happen in between Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time, yet Skyward Sword's map with a few tweaks matches Ocarina of Time's map perfectly? I call bullshit once again.
  • I don't think "fanboy rage" counts as proper evidence. Sorry, it's canon. Deal with it.
  • It's also worth noting that this series is called The Legend of Zelda for a reason. A legend can easily suffer changes with time (like geography), even if the real event it was based on happened at all, in-universe speaking. If you think it that way, it makes perfect sense that some of these legends never happened, regardless of the importance of the games themselves.
  • Personally (and don't hit me for this), I agree with the Trolling Creator theory. This whole "official" timeline thing might just be Nintendo's way of saying, "Screw you!" to the fans who treat the Zelda timeline as Serious Business. I mean, they've said for years that they generally care more about gameplay than how all the games fit together, and that there is no definite timeline, then suddenly release a timeline that, quite frankly, raises more questions than it answers and ends up ticking off at least half the fanbase? Yeah, I'm calling troll on this.
    • They've said that there is an official timeline on several occasions, while also claiming that game design is more important than a cohesive story. The logical conclusion would be that the various dev teams have collected an 'official' timeline, but since each game is designed without concerns for a definitive canon, it isn't really better than any fan theory.
      • Well, I wouldn't say the Creator is Trolling, but Eiji Anonuma is about as obsessed with trying to make a Timeline as the fans. Especially since he IS a former Zelda Fanboy anyway. The main problem is that only the games he makes are linked to each other in an obvious way, but the Capcom games and the original Shigeru games aren't exactly as...well, concrete. The end result is a Cosmic Retcon in a vain attempt to fit everything together, but not all games are efficiently linked. The Four Swords oddness and the bizarre new "GANON WINS" Timeline is basically proof of the Continuity Snarl it created.

Ganondorf is Lavos in an alternate timeline.
Okay, so the official timeline is out, and from a cursory glance, it's apparent that in all three of the splits, Ganondorf manages to epically trash Hyrule in some way. If the Hero of Time is defeated, he corrupts the entire Sacred Realm and leads the course for Link to the Past to happen. If Link beats him, then the child timeline leads to Ganondorf taking over Hyrule via the Twilight Realm, and the adult timeline leads to Hyrule being flooded. Whatever happens, something horrible happens to everyone involved, and no matter what timeline you're in, you are not safe, and you will never be safe.

...Sounds a bit like Lavos, doesn't it? If I understand Chrono Cross correctly, then apparently Lavos exists in an infinite number of alternate timelines and whatnot, and I assume that this means that he's trashing all of them. Now, given the nature of reincarnation, after Demise was killed, he could have either reincarnated as Ganondorf, or as Lavos. Either way, they both set out to do the same thing, which is to screw over as many alternate timelines as they possibly can.

The timeline is cyclical.
This explains the Anachronism Stew. Especially since robots existed in the distant past before Skyward Sword... But since the Wind Waker trilogy moves the games away from Hyrule, the cycle is broken in the adult timeline.

The Entire Zelda Franchise takes place in the distant future
Related to the above entry, the robots of Lanayru Desert In SS brought upon their own destruction by abusing the land they mined, leading to their mass die-out, making this an After the End scenario. Lanayru Region being home to Lake Hylia and part of Hyrule Field in OoT and TP, the reason is obvious: the Hylians, being at medieval level, had no polluting technology, thus allowing Lanayru to rejuvenate. As to why the robots didn't move to the Faron Province, this might suggest that Faron experienced a similar death and rebirth cycle.

The Song of Storms 'paradox' in OoT is actually a small, but stable time loop, and the person who taught Guru-Guru the Song of Storms in the first place was, in fact, Link, but it was OoT!Link from a failed timeline. The Link we played as was only involved with the sucessful timelines, and his perceptions are why we view the Song of Storms as a paradox.
As backdrop for those who don't want to go play OoT again, the Song of Storms paradox in OoT involves the fact that Adult!Link goes to talk to Guru-Guru inside the Windmill, who encountered a young boy in green who played the Song of Storms on an ocarina seven years before Adult!Link talks to him (sounds like a familiar person, huh? *coughcoughLinkcough*). The problem is that when you first come across this part of the story, Link didn't know the Song of Storms yet, nor had he ever learned it as Young!Link at that point. The question, of course, is how Guru-Guru even learned the Song of Storms in the first place. Of course, Link does learn the song from Guru-Guru, and goes to the past and uses it in the windmill back in the past anyway, though the question of where Guru-guru learned the Song of Storms is still on the table. The whole thing is a paradox unless there's some sort of time loop involved.

Thus, it could be proposed that the Link from the failed timeline was the one who taught Guru-Guru the Song of Storms in the first place. Seeing that we played as the sucessful Link in OoT, it would make sense that we don't really see the escapades of the Link that failed, as it wouldn't make sense for Nintendo to let us play a Link that failed, nor would it make sense to have the Link we can play perceive alternate versions of himself within time and space freely wander about Hyrule like it ain't no thang.

How Guru-Guru could perceive the alternate Link is a bit shakier, but it could add up to one of three things. 1) Guru-Guru is flat out crazy, negating this guess due to composing the song himself. 2) He's a reality warper, and he's able to see into other timelines, thereby seeing the failed Link. 3) When the Link that failed... failed, the section of the timeline before OoT up to the point of him teaching Guru-Guru the song of Storms could have been duplicated, and then that duplicated timeline merged with the timeline of the Link that suceeded. Of course, the copy of the timeline where Link failed would still be intact, and overall, lead to the events of the classic Zelda games in the original timeline, as opposed to the duplicate. Also, the Link that failed either learned the Song of Storms from someone else, or actually made it up himself, and just happened to cause problems.

TL:DR: The timeline splitting up in OoT works like various other WMGs involving MM. All abandoned and failed attempts on Link's part exist, but are duplicated, and somehow compiled and merged with the timeline where he suceeds. Oh, but those multiple Hyrules where OoT Link flat out failed (and their timelines) still exist where no one has seen them yet. This said, we don't get to see all of those timeline duplicates in the official timeline, due to the official timeline being reduced to the lowest common denominator. This renders OoT!Link as the least sucessful Link, as he only wins through severe time-travel abuse, to the point where timelines like the one with all of the classic Zelda games in it exist in abundance. Way to go, Link. Way to go. MM would make this even worse, with how often Link screws with time in that game.

I believe I am fan-wanked out, and I'm not sure if it makes any sense, in hindsight. OH WELL.
  • This troper always believed Link technically learned Song of Storms in Majora'sMask, then played it in the windmill after returning to Hyrule, setting Adult Link up to learn it years later. Going back in Ocarina of Time only caused it to be played for the first time a year or two earlier.

Jesus Christ, son of a restored Hylia, died to end The Imprisioning War.
Given only the first Zelda was a reincarnation of Hylia, her soul would have returned to Godhood after her death, even if her power did linger in her descendants. A Link to the Past, Adventures Of Link, and the original Legend of Zelda all have Christian imagery in them, so the Hyrule Jesus likely died to win Hyrule The Imprisioning War.

The Failed Link occurs during Ocarina of Time proper
Specificaly, when Link goes back in time to get the Silver Gauntlets and Lens of Truth. Once you go back, you can't go forwards to the timeline you left from, only forwards to the new timeline you've created (in this case, a new timeline where Link had obtained the Lens and Gauntlets before the seven-year-sleep). Thus, the Failed Link timeline is the one where Link got stuck on the Spirit and Shadow temples, went to the Temple of Time to put the sword back in the pedestal and change history a little... and his mind, as far as that timeline knew, never returned, since it went instead to the new timeline he created. After all, if being sent back in time mentally in the ending split the timeline into "timeline he arrived in and its future" and "timeline he left from and its future", why shouldn't being sent back during the game itself have the same splitting effect? We should have seen that there were three timelines all along!
  • Except that the timeline doesn't say that the hero "vanished", it explicitly says he was defeated. Going back in time is part of how you win in Ocarina of Time, so at no point does going back in time mean defeat.
    • Unless he never went to sleep when he put the sword back in, just sent memories to the past to change that past and generate a better timeline... in which case the Link that put the sword in would have taken it out again, shrugged, and gone on to try and fail to defeat Gannondorf without the aid of all of the sages.

Something in Majora's Mask and Oracle of Ages was preventing new timeline formation in each case
  • In the case of Majora's Mask, it must be that the rules governing time travel are simply different in that reality than in the one Link is from; after all, they're different enough for travel in absence of the Pedestal and Master Sword.
  • In the case of Oracle of Ages, time travel was drawing directly on the power of the Goddess Nayru via Her Oracle; presumably, this is more inherently reliable and stable a method than the Sage-made Ocarina, as She can intervene to nip budding timelines as they form, whereas in the latter it is more automated and prone to bugs.

Link does not die for the failure timeline to happen.
It only says "he was defeated", which could be interpreted in a veriaty of ways. Saying he outright died might not be the best way to look at it.

The timeline only splits when the Triforce is divided.
Look at all the games where time travel occurs.

OoA - the Triforce is intact, and sends you on the mission in the first place.

MM - takes place in the timeline where you prevented Ganondorf from gaining the Triforce of Power, no timeline split is involved.

SS - The Triforce is intact at the end of it anyway.

OoT - The Triforce is split into its three parts. This is the game where the timeline splits.

  • Problem with this theory. Due to how the Triforce split in OoT, it's split from that point on in ALL timelines because the Triforce exists outside of time and space. That's why Ganondorf has the Triforce of Power in Twilight Princess even though he never entered the Sacred Realm in that timeline.

The "Link Failed" timeline comes into existence because Bongo-Bongo killed Link in Kakariko Village.
We see in the game when Bongo-Bongo escapes from the Well and proceeds to soundly thrash Sheik across the village, it then sets its sights on Link as he draws his sword and shield... and then the scene fades to black with only the sounds of battle audible. In this reality, the demon made sure Link was dead instead of leaving the job half-finished before scurrying off to the Shadow Temple.

At some point in the child or adult timelines, someone or something went back in time to Ocarina of Time and helped Ganon defeat Link.
Maybe Ganon's trident has similar time-traveling powers as the Master Sword, and as he died in Four Swords Adventures, he used the last of his power to send the trident back in time to his previous self, giving him enough power to beat Link. This would make FSA into the backstory to A Link to the Past like it was supposed to be originally, even though they now take place in separate timelines.

The Link Loses timeline is the original timeline, and the events of Ocarina of Time as a whole are the result of alteration
In the initial timeline, the Triforce did not split into three when a pure heart touched it, leading to Ganondorf getting the whole thing, leading to the Link to the Past timeline. Then, during the Triforce Using Monarchy era labeled on the timeline, one of the kings, wanting to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, decided to make a wish to retroactively add the "splits into three pieces" security measure in an attempt to change history and make the Hero of Time win, thus creating the two other timelines and the events of Ocarina of Time proper.
  • It also seems possible that the "split into 3 pieces" clause also happened in that same timeline, which is why the pieces are split in the first two games. Perhaps the king who made that wish was the one from the backstory of Adventure of Link, who did so on account of seeing his son's unbalanced heart.
  • Alternatively: In the original (failure) timeline, failure!Link faces Ganondorf while he is still a child, and thus is overpowered and killed. After this, Zelda uses her "send someone's memories/soul back in time"-powers on Rauru, so he can make sure that Link does not face Ganondorf until he is old enough, and the Adult timeline is created. Ganondorf then kills Zelda and completes his triforce, which leads up to the events of ALttP. This fits better with canon than many other theories because of all the time-travel that happens in the series; OoT!Zelda is the only one that has been confirmed to split timelines, and Link facing Ganondorf too early being the reason he fails fits well with OoT. (painocus)

You created the Failed Link timeline the first time you played Ocarina of Time.
Unless you played it all the way through without dying even once, which is practically impossible for a first-time playthrough. Link probably died from something embarassingly weak in said timeline.

The Failed Link actually means "Link never beat Ganondorf"; however, the reason is...
He stopped adventuring after getting the Kokiri Emerald. After that, he settled down and lived a normal life, while Ganon had to go and formulate a new plan. You Can't Thwart Stage One my ass.

The timeline split a fourth time (or rather, the first time, since it's the first game chronologically) in Skyward Sword, and in one of the timelines, Hyrule becomes the Sacred Realm mentioned in the rest of the games. (Abodos)
In the timeline in which most of the game takes place, Demise is completely eradicated by the Triforce, and Link, Zelda, and all the humans and other races watch over the Triforce in peace (Timeline 1, or T-1). In the timeline accessed through the Gate of Time, Link faces Ghirahim and the fully resurrected Demise, and Demise curses Hyrule to face an incarnation of his hatred, who would come to be known as Ganon (Timeline 2, or T-2).

So in T-1, let's assume that Demise was never fully resurrected and never made his curse, and that the Triforce never has to be sealed away because evil has been pretty much eradicated. It follows that this Hyrule becomes a golden land blessed by the presence of the whole Triforce completely controlled by the forces of good. This blessed Hyrule becomes the Sacred Realm.

But in T-2, with Demise having been sealed in the Master Sword but not fully destroyed, and with Demise's curse, evil still lurks across the land, leading to the wars for the Triforce first mentioned in A Link to the Past. But while the backstory states elsewhere that the Triforce in T-2 was sealed away, what might have actually happened is that the Seven Sages actually wished for the Triforce to be beyond the reach of evil, which was fulfilled by having the T-2 Triforce eradicated. Thus, by the time of Ocarina of Time, there is only a single Triforce across all timelines that exist by then.

Thus, the Temple of Time seen in Ocarina of Time does not actually access an entirely different dimension, but simply lets anyone using the Gate of Time access T-2. So when Ganondorf goes through to the Sacred Realm when Hero of Time Link gets the Master Sword, he is going to the Hyrule that was free from evil until he came. As a result, the golden Hyrule of T-1 is conquered by evil once again, and the Triforce is stolen.

The reason the Dark World is Hyrule's dark mirror is not because Ganon's dark heart turned it into that purely by magic, but because it was already Hyrule in another timeline. Because T-1 Hyrule was an evil-free utopia, there was no need to maintain any sort of army, meaning that Ganondorf conquered it rather easily. Certain gloomy aspects of the Dark World may stem more directly from the natural effects of being a subjugated realm.

As a result of all this, the split timelines that Word of God has officially confirmed (Adult timeline, Child timeline, Decline timeline) split off directly from T-2. However, T-1 gets split alongside it because the Sacred Realm/Dark World is confirmed to exist in all of them and gets affected differently each time as a result. In essence, there are actually eight timeline splits: the two from Skyward Sword, and the three pairs of splits for those previous two from Ocarina of Time.

On a side note, this might also result in two other effects regarding the two swords that are central to the plot of Skyward Sword.

For one thing, the Master Sword of T-1 does not contain the lingering essence of Demise. It's possible that, because it is completely free from any evil, it becomes the ultra-powerful Golden Sword from A Link to the Past. This would explain why it is found in the Dark World/Sacred Realm/T-1 Hyrule. And the reason it is found in the possession of the Great Fairy Venus rather than in a pedestal is because, during Ganondorf's invasion of the Sacred Realm/T-1 Hyrule, the forces of good took the T-1 Master Sword/Golden Sword from its pedestal and hid it before Ganondorf could find it and destroy it.

Also, as speculated at WMG.The Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword, Ghirahim does indeed become the Trident of Power. The Ghirahim of T-1 goes through the Gate of Time to T-2, revives Demise, gets forcibly turned into the Anti-Master Sword, and is eradicated when Link defeats Demise. However, the Ghirahim of T-2 would still exist; it's just that Demise being locked in the Master Sword would mean that his evil machinations would unfold quite differently from how they did throughout Skyward Sword.

First, because the resurrection of Demise is no longer a goal that T-2 Ghirahim can attain, his efforts instead focus on either conquering Hyrule himself or making sure Demise's curse is brought about. It's possible that Ghirahim became the founder and leader of the Dark Interlopers who tried to steal the T-2 Triforce and eventually became the Twili of Twilight Princess. This would explain certain similarities between the Twili characters and Ghirahim (similar Villain Teleportation, strange skin coloring, over-the-top mannerisms, ultimately subservient to the vastly more powerful Demise/Ganon). In fact, when Midna talks about the ancient king who was driven mad by the same greed that she sees in Zant's eyes, she may have been referring to T-2 Ghirahim.

But due to the failure of Ghirahim's Dark Interloper plot, he falls back on Plan B: seal himself in the Trident of Power and make sure that, in this form, he can help the eventual incarnation of Demise's hatred attain the height of his magical potential. In fact, Ghirahim may have either created or influenced the development of the Gerudo to make this flow more smoothly. For one, he influenced their culture so that they would wish to isolate themselves from the other inhabitants of Hyrule, making them extra protective of their desert land and all dwelling in it, including the Trident of Power's resting place. Also, he altered their biology so that there would only be one male Gerudo every 100 years, ensuring that, among this pet race of Ghirahim's, there would be a convenient vessel for Demise's curse who would be in a position of sufficient power (King of the Gerudo) to amass an army and be on high-enough diplomatic ground with the Royal Family of Hyrule to manipulate them. Twinrova may have been a colleague of Ghirahim's who made sure all this came to pass.

BorneAgain's Theory

Link's very existence split the timeline to begin with.

In the original timeline... there was no Link at all. Thus Ganondorf, with no Hero of Time to open the door in the Temple of Time for him, soon raised an army. Seeking the Sacred Stones, he then invaded the Lost Woods, Death Mountain, and Zora's Domain, eventually leading to a war with the armies of Hyrule in order to force his way into the Temple of Time, a violent conflict that shook the world.

Right before Ganondorf gained access to the Sacred Realm, a desperate and wounded Hyrulian mother and her infant son got there first, with her making a wish to live in a Hyrule without war. Recognizing her pure heart, the Triforce granted her wish by sending her back in time before Ganondorf gained power. The mother took her infant son to the Kokiri Forest and died of her injuries from the war. The Great Deku Tree, sensing he would be a boy of destiny, took care of him from then on. This act split the timeline, which was then split again by Link being sent back by Zelda at the end of OoT.

Thus there was:

No Link: Where Ganondorf gained access to the Triforce in the Sacred Realm, but his wish trapped him in the Golden Land, eventually turning into the Dark World.

Child Link: Where a young Link managed to prevent Ganondorf's rise from occurring at all.

Adult Link: Where Link disappeared completely, and when Ganondorf escaped and conquered Hyrule, the Goddesses flooded the world.

There are four timelines, but we will only ever play three of them.

According to the official timeline, OoT splits three ways - Child!Timeline, Adult!Timeline, and Fail!Timeline, with games continuing through each of them. However, the timeline also splits at the end of SS when Ghirahim resurrects Demise in the past. In one timeline, Demise is resurrected and then defeated by Link, leading to the events of the rest of the series. In the other timeline, Demise remains sealed to the 'present' of SS, before being permenently sealed by the Triforce. In this timeline, none of the villains of the series exist, because they are the result of Demise's hatred, letting Skyloft/Hyrule exist in a state of peace. However, this timeline also lacks Link and Zelda. Thus, there will never be a game made in the Sealed!Timeline.

A reason why the Fail!Timeline exists.
I've heard people complaining that ALttP is supposed to be first in the Adult!Timeline, followed by LA and the rest of the games in that timeline, and that the whole split into three timelines is BS. I think I've figured out why ALttP is the first in the Fail!Timeline and why that timeline exists. First, imagine that the Fail!Timeline is in between the Child!Timeline and the Adult!Timeline. Now then, in OoT, Link disappears for 7 years, and people would assume that he was "defeated" by Ganon because of that. When Link returns, he causes the timeline to split into the Adult! and Fail! timelines. Everyone knows what happens in the Adult! one, but what if Link didn't return? Then someone else, i.e. Sheik, would have to step in and take care of everything. Of course, Ganon wouldn't be done in like he was in the end of OoT (since you need the Master Sword to do that), so he would still have power and attempt to return to the normal realm in ALttP.

The timeline split is a result of an argument between the three Goddesses (Indigo Fenix)
The timeline split, reformation, and even the styles of certain games can be reconciled if you think of Hyrule's history in terms of its cosmology. In essence, the whole process could be seen as an "argument" between the three Goddesses, influencing the timeline from a vantage point outside of it. Now, it's easy to say that each of the three timelines represents one of the Goddesses, but I think it's a bit more complicated than that. Rather, the events are a result of a disagreement as to whether or not the timeline should be split at all.

Up until the events in OoT, the Goddesses were in balance, and the timeline was a simple line. However, by traveling back in time and splitting the timeline, Link unwittingly created a feud between Din and Nayru. Nayru, being the Goddess of Wisdom, was interested in the 'experiment' of a 'split timeline' and wanted to see how it would play out. Din, with her stricter personality, didn't want the confusion of an additional timeline. So, in an effort to 'fix' the problem, she decided to destroy it.

She took hold of an uninhabitted 'loose thread' of creative potential and 'attached' it to Hyrule at the point of the time split, turning it into a 'parasite' world in order to suck existence out of one of the timelines and send it spiralling into a void of non-creation. Since it was created almost entirely by Din, who has less creative ability than her sisters, it was hastily thrown together, bearing a great resemblence to Hyrule, with a vague history that spoke of little more than destruction and shadows. This world, created only to be destroyed, the intended 'terminal' point in the 'child' timeline, was called, appropriately, Termina.

But something unexpected happened. When Link fell through the ever-widening gap between the worlds, Nayru (who is also the Goddess of Time) intervened, and the Hero of Time stopped the cycle of destruction, unwittingly saving not only Termina, but Hyrule as well. Grudgingly, Din was forced to accept the split in the timeline, and the Goddesses worked together to flesh out the history of this hastily-created world by gently attaching segments of its past to earlier points in Hyrule's history.

They inspired the Dark Interlopers to arise in Hyrule's past, and, when they were sent into the parallel world, Termina was retroactively populated. However, the life force of Termina was not enough to sustain it properly. Save for the brief period where it was fully attached to Hyrule, both the past and future of this realm remained dark and shadowy, and became known as the Twilit Realm.

At this point in meta-time, Farore, the youngest and most creative of the Goddesses, hatched an idea to fix the problem, by reconciling the argument between her sisters. Rather than leaving the timeline split forever or destroying one of its ends, they could instead tie it back together — in the future. Nayru would have her time experiment, and Din would have a single, concise ending. Everyone could be happy! All they would have to do would be to direct the two timelines in such a way that their futures ended up functionally identical to one another.

But there was a problem — Ganondorf. Being immortal, intelligent, and non-divine, he would always remember events as they actually happened — he would always remember which timeline was the 'real' one. In order to leave Hyrule's history ambiguous to mortals, Ganondorf, the constant, had to be killed. Not sealed, but killed entirely — in both timelines.

Din, who favored this plan, orchestrated the events in TP, leading to Ganondorf's death in the 'child' timeline. Although Nayru wasn't particularly concerned one way or another, she allowed Farore to patch things up in the 'adult' timeline, leading to the events in WW. With Ganondorf dead and Ganon returned to a primal force without mortal memory, the incarnation of Demise itself, a bit of historical tweaking would be all that was needed to bind the timelines together for good.

All that remained was to create a new, 'binding' timeline that would act as the centerpoint from which the 'true history' of Hyrule would be created. In order to do this, Farore created a new split — by causing Link to lose the battle in OoT. From this timeline, the events of ALttP took place, and at the point where the timelines were fused together, Time itself became tangled, and the events of OoS and OoA, whose chronology was always meant to be ambiguous, took place. His role done, the new Link that the Goddesses used to bind the timelines together went on to experience his peaceful end during the events of LA.

The timelines reconciled and Hyrule's history resolved, Link fought one last battle against Ganon and his shadow in LoZ and AoL, bringing a new age of prosperity to Hyrule, and a final end to the divine arguments and chrono-madness his ancestor created.

The sleeping Zelda and the Triforce of Courage
After looking over the offical timeline, I noticed that in the "Hero Fails" timeline, there's an event marked as Tragedy of Princess Zelda I right before the original LoZ and AoL. Right before THAT is a "golden era" with the "Triforce-using Monarchy." In the first Lo Z, there are only two pieces of the Triforce mentioned. In AoL, you have to restore the Triforce of Courage. Clearly, something happened between the time of the Triforce-using Monarchy and the events of the original LoZnote  that caused the Triforce of Courage to shatter. Perhaps the event that shattered the Triforce of Courage is the same event which caused Princess Zelda I to fall into her long slumber. Exactly what that event was though, I'm not sure.

The Fail!Timeline is meant as a (milder) form of Canon Discontinuity
Rule #1 of child-friendly stories: While the Bad Guy can win the early battles and force The Hero to come Back From The Brink, in the end, the Hero always wins the war. The very existence of a Fail!Timeline violates this rule. Which would be alright for some third party, but this is a flagship franchise of Nintendo, who doesn't have the reputation of supporting FamilyUnfriendlyAesops.

Also, notice the games that are in the Fail!Timeline. They are all for the NES, the SNES, and the Game Boy. All games that are for later systems are in one of the other two timelines. I'm not sure whether OoT and MM were remade for the GameCube, but if they weren't, then this does cause some problems regarding ALttP, if not Zeldas 1&2 as well, as all of these above would be accessible via the Virtual Console. Still, removing the Game Boy games from any relevant timeline is a practical matter, concerning the lack of a VC for Game Boy. Perhaps Nintendo thought that ALttP was too attached to LA.

In essence, in creating the Fail!Timeline, Nintendo is saying to these games, "Thanks for creating the franchise, but your Early-Installment Weirdness and inaccessibility (again, Virtual Console notwithstanding for 1-3) has made your existence a liability. Though, at least, you did exist, unlike games best left unmentioned, and so we are creating this 'third timeline' to recognize that fact." — Donaldthe Potholer
  • Alternatively, the existence of an alternate timeline created by Link's losing is meant to keep the existing timeline around while allowing the creators to freely ignore it whenever they want just by setting any new game in a timeline that split off from any game, rather than only splitting off from OoT or another game involving time travel.

The Fail!Timeline is the result of Link's dream at the start of OoT

Okay, so you need the sword and shield in order to get the Kokiri Emerald and leave the forest, but notice how Link is woken up before Ganondorf does anything to him besides aim at him. Maybe Link doesn't survive the blast in that "dream".

{{Tropers/Luda}'s weird timeline is weird.
  • Hero of Men/Fierce Deity/Sleeping Zelda
(Random Catastrophe....with robots)
  • Skyward Sword
(Dig up history of bound chest, etc.)
  • Minish Cap
  • Four Swords
  • Four Swords Adventures (<=Is actually what leads to the civil War, Ganon returns 100 years later claiming to be Gerudo Jesus)
  • Ocarina of Time
  • (TIME SPLIT!!)

  • Adult Timeline
  • (Great Flood)
  • Wind Waker
  • Phantom Hourglass
  • Spirit Tracks

  • Child Timeline
  • (Ganon's fail invasion, Gerudo cast into Twilight Realm)
  • Twilight Princess
  • A Link To The Past
  • Oracles of...things.
  • Link's Awakening (Marin is just Malon's dream)
  • Legend of Zelda
  • Adventure of Link

The Fail/Succeed Split is a result of Master Hand's intervention in "Super Smash Bros.."

In the original timeline, Ganon killed Link at the end of OoT. However, Master Hand has the power to take characters/areas/materials from other universes from any point in that universe's space time continuum. Master Hand wanted to get the Hero of Time in his cross-dimensional tournament, even though Ganon had killed him, so he just took Link out of his timeline during OoT, before his death.

However, while fighting in the tournament, Link got quite a bit of training done, and not just any training, but training with the likes of Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby, and even more of the multiverse's most powerful heroes. So, when Link was returned to his point in the Zelda Timeline after Super Smash Bros...

He defeated Ganon at the end of OoT! Master Hand, with all his time meddling, had accidentally made Link a better warrior, creating an alternate universe where Link defeated Ganon. Then, Zelda split this universe into two by sending Link back in time to his childhood, creating the Failure, Adult, and Child timelines. And the rest is history!

The Fail/Succeed Split is a result of the Master Sword

Link was killed by Ganon in the final battle. However, the Master Sword has a last ditch defense mechanism, which sends its master back in time a few minutes if (s)he dies (After all, Ocarina of Time already had the Master Sword allow Link to time travel.)

So, after Link was killed by Ganon, the Master Sword caused his (dead) body to disappear from the Failure Timeline. Link woke up in a new (Adult) timeline, a few minutes in the past at the beginning of his battle with Ganon. This time, he could predict Ganon's moves (since he remembered his death in the Failure Timeline) and was able to defeat Ganon. Then, Zelda sent Link even further back in time, disappearing him from the Adult timeline, causing him to wake up seven years in the past in the Child Timeline.

Link created the timelines where he succeeds
Picture the following scenario: For whatever reason - perhaps he never received the light arrows, or one of the Sages never awakened - Link is unable to fight Ganon on his own terms. Link cannot win this battle, and he knows it.

In a moment of desperation, Link comes up with an idea.

He's not sure how the flow of time works in Hyrule (NOBODY does), but he thinks that maybe - just maybe - he can turn back time so that he can find a way to defeat Ganon before it's too late. With this thought, he takes out the Ocarina of Time, and he plays.

And, just before Ganon can deal the killing blow, he Disappears into Light.

Additionally, it's very likely that the cause of Link's failure is that he didn't awaken the sages. In A Link to the Past, all of the sages were Hylian (what with all their descendants being such), unlike what we see in Ocarina of Time. Koume and Kotake are still alive up until the Oracle games in the Decline timeline, which would suggest that Link never fought them in the Spirit Temple.

The three timelines will eventually merge back into one timeline.
Notice that we have three separate timelines which were originally one complete timeline. What else do we have in this series that is separated into three separate pieces but was originally one complete whole? That's right, the Triforce. The Triforce has been reunited in at least two timelines (Adult timeline, where in The Wind Waker, Ganondorf collected all three of the pieces, but the King used it to wash away the old Hyrule; and the Fallen Hero timeline, where Ganon had the whole thing in A Link to the Past until his defeat [at which point Link used it himself], it remains whole in the Oracle games, then gets split up again sometime before the NES games, and then reunited in The Adventure of Link), so given this obvious symbolism here, it's a pretty safe bet to say that Nintendo will be capitalizing on it, likely for an anniversary game (perhaps, if we're lucky, the 30th anniversary?).

Link lost in the Fail!Timeline...
...because the original Master Sword was destroyed by Ganon during the final battle. I was just re-reading Nintendo Power's guide for Ocarina of Time, which claimed that the Master Sword was forged during the Imprisoning War (which OoT's conflict is often referred to as). Now, we obviously know that's not true of the original Master Sword thanks to Skyward Sword, but what if the original was shattered during the final battle, and the one used in ALttP onwards is a near-but-not-quite perfect replica? The shards of the original Master Sword could even have ended up as a component in creating the Silver Arrows, which would explain why (in the 2D games) they can cause Ganon permanent harm but the (replica) Master Sword can't, when the opposite was true in OoT and both the other timelines, where the Master Sword is obviously the original one.

The Hero Failed Timeline came about
...Any time the hero is killed. Every trap that snagged you, every enemy that killed you, every time you failed. Every single one of those times, that is the failed timeline. No matter how Link fails, it results in the same events. There are only two possible ways for Link to succeed, a thousand ways you could fail. Any time Link dies, a new timeline is created, and the universe cries, as Ganon brings a new dark age upon the lands.

Everything from Link to the Past to Link's Awakening was a part of Link's dream
The hero is indeed defeated, but he isn't necessarily killed. The oddity of it is that Ganondorf was still defeated... by a descendant of Groose. During his victory celebration, Zelda takes note of Link's critical condition and cries for medical help; however, the nearest physician and/or potion producer who can help Link recover from an injury of this magnitude lives and works on a nearby island. Naturally, the comatose Link is taken to the island and treated, then brought home... or at least he would be, if not for the storm. The guards, being Hylian guards, don't survive, but Link is able to remain afloat on some driftwood from the wreckage. He has his big dream of Link to the Past and the Oracle games, and then he experiences his awakening. From then on, the story continues as normal. It's quite an odd theory, but this is WMG. It doesn't need to make sense.

The CD-I games and the animated series occur in an offshoot of the Decline timeline.
Specifically, in the "second quest" of the original game. In the first quest, Link defeats Ganon, rescues Princess Zelda and the Triforce of Power, and later wakes up the sleeping princess with the Triforce of Courage. But in the second quest, Ganon's forces are much stronger, represented in-game as more difficult dungeon layouts with stronger enemies appearing earlier. In this branch, after Link defeats Ganon, the remaining forces of evil launch an attack on Hyrule Castle and re-take the Triforce of Power, and use it to revive Ganon, albeit in a weaker state. At first, he tries conquering the outer lands of Koridai and Gamelon to bolster his forces, but Link and Zelda foil those and he ends up sealed in a book; but he escapes and returns to Hyrule, where he comes up with schemes of the week to retrieve the Triforce of Wisdom. The events of Adventure Of Link still occur, as evidenced by the Triforce of Courage existing in the CD-I games, but the elder Princess Zelda is either never woken up or goes somewhere else.

The Ganon that appears in the original Legend of Zelda NES games is not the same Ganon that appears in A Link to the Past.(marioandsonic)
The Ganon that appears in ALttP is the same Ganon that appears in OoT, except in the "Game Over" timeline (which is what I personally call the "Downfall" timeline). Ganon was killed at the end of ALttP, although he was briefly revived in the Oracle series, but was quickly killed again. However, the Ganon that appears in the original NES games is not the same Ganon revived again, but rather a separate reincarnation.

What supports this idea is a similar issue in the "Child" timeline with Twilight Princess and Four Swords Adventure. In FSA, Ganon appears, despite that Ganon was killed at the end of TP. According to Hyrule Historia, the Ganon of FSA is a separate reincarnation of the Ganon appearing in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, similar to how multiple incarnations of Link and Zelda have appeared throughout the Zelda series. Therefore, it would make sense that Ganon could be reincarnated in the other timelines as well.

Gamer From Jump's theory
This is more about how many Links and Zeldas there have been.

All lines:

Link: SS - First holder of the Master Sword. Demise curses the lines of Link and Zelda. Zelda is the incarnation of Hylia. Pre-Minish Cap - Picori bestow the Four Sword and other items to first king of Hyrule in an untold story. Vaati created, Ezlo cursed.

Link II: MC - Vaati defeated. Zelda II is a Princess and Link's friend.

Link III: FS - Vaati resurrected. Zelda III is again a Princess and Link's friend.

Link IV: OoT - The timeline divides, Ganondorf becomes Ganon. Zelda IV is princess of the kingdom and a Sage.

Fail!Line (Link IV dies or is crippled):

Link V: LttP - Ganon revived by Agahnim. OoX - Ganon partially revived by Twinrova. LA - Link travels to train, is stranded on Koholint. reasoning  Zelda V begins as a Maiden. She gets kidnapped by Twinrova and rescued by Link. She's uninvolved with Awakening.

Link VI: LBW - Six generations (120-150 years) after LttP. Not much is known, though if Ganon appears again, they'll have to both explain how he came back after Oracle, and kill him again. Zelda VI's involvement in the plot is unknown.

(A princess Zelda is cursed by a wizard. We'll say Zelda VII for now. All subsequent daughters of the royal line are given this name by law, rather than tradition.)

Link VII: LoZ - Link explores an island or blocked off section of Hyrule. Note the absence of towns. Ganon is killed and Zelda VIII is rescued. Seven years later, in AoL, Link explores Hyrule and learns direct magic (not item-based magic). Zelda VII is awakened. What happens to her afterwards is unknown, since Zelda VIII is presumably in Hyrule.

7 Links, 8 Zeldas.

Child!Line (Link IV returns to being 10):

Link IV: OoT Ganondorf is banished to the Twilight Realm. MM - Link goes to Termina. Zelda IV appears in flashback and teaches the Song of Time.

Link V: TP - Starts as a villager. Zelda V is matriarch of Hyrule and works with Link V to beat Zant.

Link VI: FSA - Vaati is released and subsequently defeated. A reincarnation of Ganon gains the Trident and is sealed in the Four Sword. Zelda VI is a princess and Maiden.

6 Links, 6 Zeldas, 2 Ganons.

Adult!Line

(7-year period while Link is in stasis, Zelda moves about as Sheik.)

OoT - Link IV disappears from this world, due to being sent back. Zelda IV lives out her life as a Sage.

(Prior to WW, Ganondorf escapes and the Goddesses flood Hyrule)

Link V: WW - Link kills Ganondorf via sword to the head. Zelda V starts as Tetra, unaware of her heritage. Hyrule is fully destroyed. PH - Link V and Zelda V (as Tetra) encounter Bellum and eventually found New Hyrule.

Link VI: ST - Link and Zelda VI fight Malladus. Zelda does more in this game.

6 Links, 6 Zeldas.

So, the final tally is that there are 11 plot-relevant Links and 12 Zeldas across the 3 lines. Ganon is only alive in the Child line, but sealed. The Master Sword is in the Lost Woods (Fail), The Sacred Grove (Child), and lost underwater (impaling Ganon) in the Adult line.

Of course, this will need modification once full details of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Zelda Wii U become known.

Andyzero's theory

The Failed Timeline is the original Timeline of Ocarina of Time where Link did not travel to the future.
When Link pulled out the Master Sword; he was transported as an adult 7 years into the future. Why? Because originally, Child Link did NOT go to the future. As a child, he pulled the Master Sword; challenged Ganondorf; and lost. To fix this; the Master Sword/Ocarina/Triforce "skipped" the part where Link lost; to create a backup reality where an adult Link could gain power from the Sages to defeat Ganondorf; then used the resonance of that future to "fix" the past so that Ganondorf would be killed/banished immediately. This left two timelines, the original unfixed "failure" timeline, and the "adult" timeline in the lurch.


Hyrule WarriorsWMG/Video GamesThe Legend Of Zelda Triforce

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
191252
7