This Might Actually Be The Official Zelda Timeline

This Might Actually Be The Official Zelda Timeline

Since the series began, Nintendo has been coy on whether there’s an official timeline for The Legend of Zelda. They’ve said there is one, locked away in Nintendo HQ, but the fact it’s never been shared – and that each game seems so wildly different from the rest – has long clouded the topic.

Until now.

Nintendo’s new Zelda art book is already finding its way into the hands of Joe Public, and inside is a Zelda timeline. For real. In an official Nintendo product.

And, according to one such person posting online (and helpfully translated by reader littsu), it reads like this. Note that the “split” is due to Ocarina’s time differences and assumptions based on the different ways that story could have ended (as in, Link succeeding or failing as either a boy or adult).

Be warned: there may be errors, given the nature of the transcribing, and Nintendo may later own up and say this isn’t the super-secret official timeline they’ve been guarding with their lives for decades. This may be just an “interpretation”. Or something. Got that? OK, read on!

(네타) 완전히 밝혀진 젤다 타임라인 (하이랄 히스토리아) [Ruliweb]


  • …I see.

    Middle is what was called “Child Timeline” and the right is the “Adult Timeline”, flooded because link no longer existed in that timeline…

    But I never even considered the possibility of a third.

  • How do 3 different timelines spin off of Ocarina? Two I get, three? Not so much. I know the explanation that there are different endings for success or failing as an adult or child, but surely only one ending is canonical. Link won as a kid, and won as an adult. This creates one timeline where Link traps Ganon as an adult, and one where Link alerts the Palace about Ganon.

      • So, basically an adult timeline where Link doesn’t defeat Ganon? This then raises the question about how Ganon then ended up locked in the Sacred Realm for LttP… I would say that this means the left is Adult, the middle is Child and the right is Timetravelless, however Wind Waker references the adult’s timeline ending.

        Therefore, the third timeline must be the leftest one. So how does Ganon get imprisoned between OoT and LttP?

        • My guess is the left timeline is what would happened if Link couldn’t travel through time. Meaning he grew up through Ganon’s rule. Or when he travelled through time he created a new timeline where he didn’t exist, including not returning to the past.

        • If we assume that every time Link travels through time in OoT he’s creating a new split, there technically would have been dozens of splits created. Though I have to say I’m not entirely comfortable with three branches. With only two there was a clearly identifiable point of divergence. I can’t think of any significant moment that the left strand could have stemmed from.

    • The first split is Adult/Child timeline, then the second is within the child timeline – when Link goes to Termina. In essence Link warns the Castle of Ganon’s plans, which tips them off for the Childs story line, then he leaves THAT timeline and goes into the alternate reality.


      • It’s widely speculated that after Link returns from his adventure in Termina he finds himself lost in the Lost Woods and becomes a Stalfos; the same Stalfos that teaches Twilight Princess Link the special sword techniques. So there isn’t really any room for a split in time there.

  • In the manual to A Link To The Past it talks about an “Imprisoning War” where the 7 sages sealed Ganon in the Dark World. I always thought it odd that in Ocarina of Time there was no such war, and Ganon’s imprisoning seemed a fairly private ordeal. Perhaps there’s another “link” (hehe) that we haven’t seen yet that joins Ocarina with A Link To The Past?

    • Actually the Imprisoning War is the event that takes place right before Twilight Princess which is in the child timeline, they even refer to it in-game. My guess is that the 3rd timeline which starts with ALttP should be following on directly from Four Swords Adventures.

      • There’s a theory that the imprisoning war /was/ Ocarina of Time. Any discrepancies can be explained by the fact that stories become legend.

        So, here’s the thing: Three versions of the events of Ocarina of Time exist:

        Link grabs the sword, Ganon takes over the world, Link beats him as an adult. This leads into Wind Waker.

        Link alerts the authorities to Ganon. He goes on to star in Majora’s Mask.

        Link grabs the sword, Ganon takes over the world, Link never transported to the future so Ganon ultimately wins. Somehow Ganon is trapped into the shadow realm. Considering this is the timeline which has LttP, it probably has the most in common with the story in LttP. I’d like to think that Zelda assumes role of King as Sheikh and leads 7 sages to defeat Ganon and trap in the sacred realm.

    • Problem is that Wind Waker directly references the Adult timeline ending of Ocarina of Time, and Majora’s Mask continues straight on from the Child timeline.

  • I don’t see how the split timeline works. Kid Link goes off to become an adult through time travel, leaving 7 years difference. When he comes back from being an adult, he goes out on to quest elsewhere (majoras mask) knowing that in 7 years, adult him will save Hyrule. Time travel as shown in both Oracle of Ages and in Skyward Sword show that is more possible than a split.

    • As the 7th Sage Zelda has the power to send Link backwards in time using the Ocarina of Time. When Child Link returns the Master Sword to the pedestal he permanently closes the gateway between the two time periods in OoT, and in so doing prevents the events of OoT from ever occurring. Only they had already occurred, thus creating a universe tearing paradox that split the timeline in two. No such event occurred in any of the other instances of a Link travelling through time, and as such no additional splits were created.

      That’s why this third branch is so jarring. It really does feel like there’s a story missing that explains why it happened.

  • I thought minish cap was before skyward sword because link gets his cap in the minish cap and in skyward sword, link already has the cap

    • Post Minish Cap is meant to be when the hero wearing a cap became a tradition. It’s essentially a coincidence that Skyward Sword Link and Minish Cap Link both wear caps – in terms of the games’ lore at least. None of the subsequent games acknowledge this fact though. We all know the Hero of Time wore a cap because he was raised a Kokiri, and that the Hero of Winds wore a cap because it was a tradition on his island for children who reached a certain age to wear the same outfit the Hero of Time wore. It could be argued that the Hero Chosen by the Gods (TP) wears his cap because of Minish Cap Link, but it seems more likely that he also wears his outfit in honour of the Hero of Time. I think it’s actually implied that it’s actually the exact same outfit in Twilight Princess as the one worn by Link in Ocarina of Time.

    • Yeah, I found that strange too, specially since in the Minish Cap we saw the previous adventure of the Hero of Time in those stained glass windows and he didn’t have the cap in those. I guess it’s just a small detail that got retconned for SS because Nintendo couldn’t bring themselves to make a whole Zelda game in which the iconic hero remained capless.

      As for the three timelines, here’s my take: In universe prime, Ganondorf takes over Hyrule, and Zelda sends boy Link to the future. Link’s re-appearance 7 years after splits the timeline by simple virtue of being a foreign temporal element introduced in it. Let’s call this universe Alt-1. When you finish the game, Ganon is defeated in Alt-1 and Link is sent back to live his lost years. However, note that he’s not sent back to the years of Ganondorf rule (i.e. not universe prime,) but apparently a totally new one in which Ganondorf is not around anymore. This would be Alt-2.

      So Universe Prime is Wind-Waker’s timeline: The hero of time disappeared without ever confronting Ganon and he remained uncontested until when the very gods of Hyrule took the matters in their hands by flooding it. Alt-1 is the timeline saved by adult Link and Ganon is trapped in the Dark Realm by the 7 sages. That one continues directly to ALttP. Lastly, in Alt-2, Ganon is totally excluded of that timeline by the temporal paradox and becomes a shadow that gets collected in the Twilight Realm.

      The only thing that doesn’t make sense is the 4SA at the end of that timeline: Everything else seems to point that 4SA is a direct sequel (same link+zelda, even) of Four Swords.

  • I call shenanigans on the left branch… I haven’t heard any convincing argument that there should/can be a third branch from OoT…
    *IF* this is official somehow, then we really need to see an accompanying explanation like Razor said…

    But I’m inclined to think, even if Nintendo says it’s official, that they just pulled it out of their ass… Miyamoto has said several different ‘official’ things about timeline placement in the past and all of them have made no sense upon analytical investigation…

    Nintendo is now trolling Zelda fans, and hard.

  • I’m going with the left timeline being it the time-travelling never happened, Ganondorf ruled Hyrule, wars and stuff happened, and we get to LTTP (after all, wasn’t the sacred realm opened in that one? If Link quickly fixed things up, no one would really notice the sacred realm being opened and there certainly wouldn’t have been a massive war over it).

    The middle one is probably as someone said that Link became a kid again, did his majora’s mask stuff (and became a stalfos and helped TP Link??).

    The right-most one is the timeline from Link being an adult, and then disappearing to go back to the Majora’s Mask timeline (thus “the hero never came back when they needed him” that we see at the start of Wind Waker), and since Link’s AWOL, Ganondorf easily revives and does his whole destroying the world stuff that lead to the great flood.

    Of course that all falls apart very easily if any new information comes out or if this isn’t the actual timeline :P. But I’m more out for any backstory on the events before Ocarina of Time (the war that was meant to happen? Could make way for a very fun and action-packed Zelda game! Perhaps with Link being an actual soldier?).

    In’erestin’ stuff.

  • Man, the Hyrulians really suck at researching technology. Years on from Skyward Sword they’re still using all the same weapons and armor. You’d think someone would have invented a television by now.

  • 3rd timeline spins off of Future OOT
    2nd timeline spins off of Past OOT
    1st timeline, Link killed Navi in the opening scene, rolled over and went back to sleep.

  • I want an actual Majoras Mask sequal. One set in Termina – new design, modernised gameplay and the whole masks and side quests etc. Majoras mask was a great concept, which was watered down due to the underpowered N64.

  • Why is everyone like, “Holy cr@p, a 3rd branch?” Here’s my simple answer: everyone forgot that more games will be made. There. Problem solved. I will take my million-dollars, now, for answering.

  • I always thought that nintendo denied there was any sort of timeline. That each was a standalone game in its own distinct world.

  • Left path is child link warns zelda, ganon is executed by 7 sages. goes on journey to find himself/navi now he has experienced adulthood as a child. middle is where he searches for navi, finds termina and becomes stalfos. right is a world where link doesn’t exist but ganon is sealed, and starts to escape in windward.

  • I find it funny that people can not accept the tribranch.
    one branch, link saves future
    one branch, link comes back from future and gets lost in an alternate reality (spurring new future)
    one branch has to deal with the fact that link is lost in term’ and progress without him. (spurring new future)

    So the tree contains not just the timeline split, but an alt-reality arc also… which are essentially the same thing anyway.

    Marvel have been doing shit thousands of times more terrible than this for decades, LoZ timelines are cake.

  • Honestly, I don’t think there is a timeline – at least not any more than there’s one for Mario. At this point, trying to make them fit together is so convoluted it just feels like BS to me.

    • There are definitely interconnected games. Majora’s Mask is a direct Sequel to Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess is set a hundred years after Majora’s Mask, and The Wind Waker is set parallel to Twilight Princess (100 years after OoT) but on the other side the split timeline.

      The trouble is fitting the rest games into the mix; hence the extra branch.

  • no no no. wind waker occurs between majoras mask and twilight princess because the world floods after majoras mask and hyrule is vastly different after flooding which is why the world changed in twilight princess. There is no room for split timelines here at all

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