History of the Zelda Timeline

From Zelda Wiki, the Zelda encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Historically, the Zelda Timeline has been an afterthought with respect to game development. It was not pre-planned and has grown incrementally with each new release, often being re-arranged to accommodate new titles[citation needed]. An official overarching timeline was not laid out in full until Hyrule Historia was first released in 2011. Prior to the release of Hyrule Historia, the overall timeline was the subject of numerous fan theories.

This article details the evolution of the timeline—and its fan intepretations—throughout the series' history.

History of the official timeline


The first decade of the series saw four releases from 1986 to 1993. With so few games, the timeline remained relatively straightforward.

The timeline complications begin with the next wave of releases five years later.


In 1998, Ocarina of Time is released as a prequel to A Link to the Past. Nintendo purports the game to be a retelling of the Imprisoning War in the backstory of A Link to the Past.[4] However the actual events of Ocarina of Time do not fully align with the Imprisoning War.[how?] In an interview on the chronology however, Miyamoto refers to the order as being Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda, The Adventure of Link and then A Link to the Past, with Link's Awakening occurring at any time after Ocarina of Time.[5]

In 2000, Majora's Mask is released as a direct sequel of Ocarina of Time but has a minimal impact on the timeline, taking place in a parallel world.

In 2001, Nintendo of America released a timeline of the first six games on Zelda Universe, and later added entries for Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages.[6] All of the games are purported to involve the same Link, to explain this discrepancy, this timeline has it that time passes differently in Termina, so when Link returned to Hyrule hundreds of years had passed.

The Hyrule Library
Hall of Time
Ocarina of Time
Majora's Mask
A Link to the Past
Oracle of Ages
Oracle of Seasons
The Legend of Zelda
The Adventure of Link
Link's Awakening[note 1]

In 2001, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages are released. The Triforce plays a central role in the plot and Ganon is still the ultimate villain, but the games have no apparent connection to the overall timeline.[verification needed]


In 2002 and 2003, The Wind Waker is released as a distant-future sequel to Ocarina of Time. It takes place in a time after a Great Flood washes away Hyrule completely, an event that upheaves the timeline. The game does not recognize the events of A Link to the Past, which would have occurred between Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker.

In 2006, Twilight Princess is released as yet another sequel to Ocarina of Time, ostensibly contradicting The Wind Waker. Shortly after, producer Eiji Aonuma officially declares the existence of two parallel timelines resulting from Link's time travel in Ocarina of Time.[7] Twilight Princess is stated to occur in the "Child Link Timeline" while The Wind Waker occurs in the "Adult Link Timeline".

In the meantime, from 2002 to 2005, Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures, and The Minish Cap are released. The games form their own plot featuring Vaati as the primary villain and the Four Sword as the holy grail instead of the Triforce. The Minish Cap is a distant prequel to Four Swords. Four Swords Adventures, at the time, is presented as a direct sequel to Four Swords. Four Swords Adventures ties into the greater series by re-introducing Ganon as the ultimate villain behind Vaati's power. However, the game's placement in the timeline—in either of the two branches—is unclear at the time. The same is true for A Link to the Past and the other three titles preceding Ocarina of Time.

From 2007 to 2009, Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are released as sequels to The Wind Waker.[clarification needed]

Skyward Sword is released in 2011 and is placed at the very beginning of the timeline.


Shortly after Skyward Sword, a full account of the timeline is released in Hyrule Historia. It attempts to resolve the contradictions by contriving a third timeline branch where Link is defeated by Ganon in Ocarina of Time. This notably shifts the Imprisoning War from being the events of Ocarina of Time to a separate event that takes place many years afterwards.

The so-called Fallen Hero Timeline accounts for the events of A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons, and Oracle of Ages, Link's Awakening, The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link in that order. Later, in Encyclopedia, this timeline branch is re-arranged to account for A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes, which are placed directly after Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. Link's Awakening is once again placed directly after A Link to the Past.

Hyrule Historia places The Minish Cap and Four Swords after Skyward Sword at the beginning of the timeline. Four Swords Adventures is shoehorned into the Child Timeline as its latest games.

Fallen Hero Timeline
Hyrule Historia Encyclopedia
A Link to the Past A Link to the Past
Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons Link's Awakening
Link's Awakening Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages
A Link Between Worlds
Tri Force Heroes
The Legend of Zelda The Legend of Zelda
The Adventure of Link The Adventure of Link

In Creating a Champion, the events that occurred in Hyrule's early history are described to have faded into myth.[8] The timeline effectively begins anew with Breath of the Wild as its placement in the timeline is deliberately kept vague other than being far in the future.[9] However, in Tears of the Kingdom, the concept of the Imprisoning War is revisted in flashbacks, though it is unclear if it is intended to be the same one described in A Link to the Past.

Fan interpretations of timeline



  1. Link's Awakening Occurring during the point in The Adventure of Link where Link crosses to Eastern Hyrule.


  1. "At the end of a fierce fight, Link overthrew Ganon, took back the Triforce and rescued Princess Zelda. However, is it all really finished? Many seasons have passed since then." (The Adventure of Link manual, pg. 3)
  2. "One day, a strange mark, exactly like the crest of the kingdom, appeared on the back of Link's hand as he approached his 16th birthday." (The Adventure of Link manual, pg. 3)
  3. "The predecessors of Link and Zelda face monsters on the march when a menacing magician takes over the kingdom." (A Link to the Past box)
  4. "The story in Ocarina of time isn’t actually original, it deals with the Sages’ Imprisoning War from the Super Famicom's ALttP." — Satoru Takizawa, Ganondorf , GlitterBerri's Game Translations, published June 22, 2007, retrieved December 22, 2013.
  5. "Ocarina of Time is the first story, then the original Legend of Zelda, then Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and finally A Link to the Past. It's not very clear where Link's Awakening fits in—it could be anytime after Ocarina of Time." —Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo Power Vol. 116: Interview with Mr. Miyamoto.)
  6. "Our historians have toiled loing and hard to ensure that this infomation is accurate, and except for a few dissenters most citizens of Hyrule agree our Timeline is precice and reliable." — The Hyrule Library: Hall of Time (web archive), zelda.com.
  7. "The Wind Waker is parallel. In Ocarina of Time, Link flew seven years in time, he beat Ganon and went back to being a kid, remember? Twilight Princess takes place in the world of Ocarina of Time, a hundred and something years after the peace returned to kid Link's time. In the last scene of Ocarina of Time, kids Link and Zelda have a little talk, and as a consequence of that talk, their relationship with Ganon takes a whole new direction. In the middle of this game [Twilight Princess], there's a scene showing Ganon's execution. It was decided that Ganon be executed because he'd do something outrageous if they left him be. That scene takes place several years after Ocarina of Time. Ganon was sent to another world and now he wants to obtain the power..." — Eiji Aonuma, Nintendo Dream: Eiji Aonuma Interview 1 , The Hylia, published 03-10-2007, retrieved December 22, 2013.
  8. "The kingdom of Hyrule has a long, long history. So long, in fact, that the events that occurred leading up to its founding and in its early years have faded into myth. Hyrule's recurring periods of prosperity and decline have made it impossible to tell which legends are historical fact and which are mere fairy tale. However, it is an undisputable truth that Calamity Ganon attacked Hyrule and was sealed ten thousand years ago, and that it revived one hundred years ago in an event called the Great Calamity." (Creating a Champion, Dark Horse Books, pg. 360)
  9. "Actually, those timeline-related questions are difficult because we’ve never designed any Zelda games by saying “hey, we’re going to put that game here, we need to have it fit into this period or that one, etc.” That’s not what comes first for us. But indeed, once the game is released and we’ve been able to develop our story, we can tell each other “oh yes, we can make it fit here”, but that’s not important to us. Especially since there could be contradictions in every new game if we tried to follow the timeline. If we can put a game in the timeline, that’s great, but as for Breath of the Wild, we haven’t really decided where it belongs for now." —Eiji Aonuma (Zelda: Breath of the Wild devs on why Hero’s Path Mode was added as DLC, timeline, more.)