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Here’s the Full Legend of Zelda Timeline

Legend of Zelda Timeline Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda timeline is complex. It’s an attempt to connect nearly forty years of games together, many of which were designed as standalone titles. This results in branching timelines, uncertain placements and even an acknowledgement from Nintendo that much of it is open to fan interpretation.

But with Tears of the Kingdom just around the corner, now is a great time to look back on the Legend of Zelda timeline so far. Where does everything fit within the timeline? How essential is it to understand the whole thing?

Legend of Zelda timeline Skyward Sword

It’s got a straightforward start. Skyward Sword kicks things off, with its story acting as an origin story for Hyrule itself. The Minish Cap follows this, with Four Swords as its direct follow-up as they both feature the same villain, Vaati. Then Ocarina of Time happens.

Here’s how this timeline looks:

  • Skyward Sword
  • The Minish Cap
  • Four Swords
  • Ocarina of Time

Legend of Zelda timeline Ocarina of Time

Child Timeline

Ocarina of Time complicates everything. Because of the time travel shenanigans central to its story, this game splits the timeline in three.

The first branch of the Legend of Zelda timeline is the Child Timeline, after Link defeats Ganon and is sent back to his childhood. Majora’s Mask is set up as the obvious sequel to this. Twilight Princess follows years later, made explicit in Ganondorf’s backstory in that game.

According to Nintendo, Four Swords Adventures follows this, although it’s not entirely clear why. It’s a largely standalone game.

Here is this timeline:

  • Majora’s Mask
  • Twilight Princess
  • Four Swords Adventures

Legend of Zelda timeline Wind Waker

Adult Timeline

Link returning to childhood created a separate Adult Timeline. In this branch, the Hero disappeared, Ganon returned, and Hyrule was flooded. This is the most straightforward branch because The Wind Waker spells these events out in its intro. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are its obvious sequels. And that’s the entire branch.

Here’s this timeline:

  • The Wind Waker
  • Phantom Hourglass
  • Spirit Tracks

Legend of Zelda timeline A Link Between Worlds

Fallen Hero Timeline

Finally, if you ever got a Game Over in Ocarina of Time, you canonically kicked off the Fallen Hero Timeline. Well done.

This one’s a messier one as Nintendo seem to use this as a place to put games created before the timeline concept. It starts with A Link to the Past, which is followed by is direct sequel Link’s Awakening. After this is the duo of Oracle games, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages. However, while Nintendo officially place them this way round now, the Hyrule Historia art book originally had them flipped.

A Link Between Worlds is a direct sequel to A Link to the Past, set years later in the same world. Tri Force Heroes is confirmed to be a direct follow-up to that, so these two games logically come next. This branch then ends with the first Legend of Zelda and its direct sequel.

This is how that timeline looks:

  • A Link to the Past
  • Link’s Awakening
  • Oracle of Seasons / Oracle of Ages
  • A Link Between Worlds
  • Tri Force Heroes
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Legend of Zelda timeline Breath of the Wild

Breath of the Wild

The last time Nintendo published the official Legend of Zelda timeline was the year before Breath of the Wild released. However, series producer Eiji Aonuma has confirmed its placement. It’s set centuries after all the other games, with all those stories fading into myth.

It’s likely this was done to give the series a fresh start, moving away from the complicated split timeline. It’s been left up to player interpretation which of the timelines it follows. Some fans theorize it may somehow be a convergence point for all three.

This brings us up to date. This leaves us with Tears of the Kingdom, which is soon to be released. However, its placement on the timeline is easy. It’s a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, so it logically sits just after it.

However, it isn’t essential to understand the full Legend of Zelda timeline to enjoy the series. You can jump into any entry without needing to understand what happened in any other game. Most of the games don’t directly reference the timeline, especially with earlier entries made without a timeline in mind. It’s just a fun and interesting way of linking all the games together.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases for the Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023.

Leigh Price
About The Author
Leigh is a staff writer and content creator from the UK. He has been playing games since falling in love with Tomb Raider on the PS1, and now plays a bit of everything, from AAA blockbusters to indie weirdness. He has also written for Game Rant and Geeky Brummie. He can also be found making YouTube video essays as Bob the Pet Ferret, discussing such topics as why Final Fantasy X-2’s story is better than people like to think.