Whether you buy into it or not, an official timeline for The Legend of Zelda series very much exists - and that's thanks to the Hyrule Historia book released in 2011. For years, diehard fans of the franchise carefully constructed their own theories, containing as much detail as possible from clues discovered in the nooks and crannies of each Zelda entry. It's definitely not everyone's cup of Lon Lon, as a large number of fans prefer to treat each Zelda title as a standalone game (unless prequels/sequels are officially stated of course) - which definitely seemed to be the initial strategy by Nintendo.
Uploaded by YouTube channel Commonwealth Realm, a group of popular YouTube Zelda theorists have come together in a rather impressive and lengthy collaboration video, as they dissect the entire series of Zelda games (including A Link Between Worlds and Tri Force Heroes) and explain how they all piece together in chronological order for the franchise's 30th anniversary. The cast of narrators include the likes of ZeldaMaster and HMK, with the production's music coming from TheOnlyDeerAlive and ZREO, with some of the footage generated via other contributors. It's a huge team effort, and whether you're a believer or not the dedication displayed here is truly commendable.
Have a watch of the near 50 minute video below and let us know what you think - just be warned that the entire video is littered with spoilers from every Zelda game (more or less), so do skip the ones you haven't played and don't want ruined for you!
It's explained by book sales.
I find HMK so funny, but unfortunately for him, I'm not so sure he's trying to be a comedian.
Is Patrick involved or is he still making Trump videos?
That fan art contains some major Spoilers.
@Nicolai HMK is involved? Thanks for saving me from clicking, bro!
I love TLOZ and all (one of my favourite series by far), but honestly the voice-overs in this video are the stuff Sunday afternoon naps on front of the TV are made of.
...or maybe that's just me (LOTR movies do that to me to).
You lost me at Popular and YouTube and now I'm just frazzled when you combined the two with Theorists.
Why can't people just accept Zelda is non canon unless specified in game? Just read the first two Zelda stories. Aside from that, what about A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds? Parallel dimensions?
Ooh, just what we need. Head-canon promoted by news sites.
@evosteevo Why would anyone have to accept Zelda as non-canon when Nintendo themselves created a timeline for the series?
Can't do it anymore. The narration is terrible.
I don't have 50 minutes to spare right now, but I think this is like having a number of random jig-saw bits and trying to make a puzzle picture.
Another chance to get my head around it all, but also another chance to disregard the notion of a timeline entirely.
Why does Zelda have to have a timeline, and why did Nintendo have to cave in and do one? It's superfluous. Like a story on a Mario game. Anybody pining for one are playing the wrong games. There are plenty of badly dubbed interactive movies with weird faced cgi actors out there for them.
Well the thing is at least half of them are connected to Ocarina in some way.
The idea is that it's open to interpretation. Create your own canon and keep it to yourself. There is so much emphasis on freedom for the player in the Zelda series (see also, the fact that Link is a mute protagonist) this extends to the continuity. Occasionally they will throw in allusions to other titles seemingly set previously or tell you that SS is generally considered a sequel - to make the player feel clever. But all the minutiae leads nowhere, really, and is deliberately open to interpretation.
There is no time line except for the games on NES.
Eiji Aonuma needs to hand over the keys to the Zelda franchise.
@zool Spot on!
@LowlyPeasant My previous comment explains. Try comprehending each word.
@evosteevo you'd think that but how can you explain the line about ganondorf in a link to the past?
to add Shigeru Miyamoto is more honest when questioned about things like cannon, and planned things like mario 3 being just a play he admitted to it. at one point said he had a official timeline on his laptop and there's to many hints between games that they are indeed linked. just the death of the hero was the shock one, where people find it hard to believe he had that planned that. but you have to remember he thought of mario 3 as just a play also.
Yeah some of the narrators chosen are questionable decisions (two of them really grind my gears), but if you can try and swallow that tough pill it's a pretty nice watch on a long bus/train ride!
@SM4SHshorts yeah some trying a little to hard i'd say, the gaondorf quote was one i was like esh.
I rarely watch anyone but matpat for game theory; I'm pretty sure he had one on the Zelda timeline too
I thought it was a lot better when Zelda didn't have a timeline and it was just up to speculation, the connections between the games just feel forced and a little souless.
The thing is, I play a Zelda game for just the Zelda game I'm playing. Sequels are one thing, but I could care less how one Zelda game connects to half the others.
Whatever you think Zelda stories are the same thing each time or not, it's very hard to deny the plots follow a very similar structure. A lore where one side wins over 90% of the time just doesn't appeal to me.
These guys also did this:
This is pretty much documentary quality. These guys deserve as much attention for this as any of their content!
@evosteevo Okay? The idea of all/most Zelda games being canon is brought forth throughout the more recent games. Nintendo themselves said that A Link Between Worlds takes place in the distant future after A link Between Worlds. Again, if Nintendo themselves stated that there is a Zelda timeline, why would anyone have to accept the Zelda games as non-canon?
Would have been better with a single narrator.
I was all on board with this but there were two or three people who really should never narrate in there. It made it very hard to continue watching the video
@kenrulei sigh....believe what you want but as soon as OOT was released on the N64 it was clear to those who played the originals that the stories were non canon. The triforce of courage wasn't even present in the story until Zelda 2.
Cant do that voice. haha
@LowlyPeasant You can't change the fact that the original two stories have a completely different take on the triforce and even Zelda. Ganon was utterly destroyed and there was no void that he was sealed into. The premise of Zelda 2 was that by killing Link and using his blood the monsters could revive Ganon(also Ganon was always a monster, not a human with the triforce of power). Besides that Link had to find the triforce of courage that the king of Hyrule had hidden? Wasn't that supposed to be in Links hand? But instead the mark on Links hand was nothing more than a sign.
@evosteevo Have you ever even looked at the official timeline?
Zelda 1 and 2 are situated at the END of one the split timelines, meaning that Ganon being destroyed has no conflict with any of the other Zelda games' story. Also, how does Ganon being introduced as a monster in the first few games suddenly contradict his humans form. I don't recall reading anything at all in the first two Zelda games that stated, "Ganon - Just beast, absolutely not a man/gerudo." Finally, the triforce will not always be in Link's hand. In some cases where he is a predestined hero it is, but in certain cases where he's not; Link would have to go and collect/find the triforce, himself (Wind Waker).
@evosteevo "Why can't people accept something that's factually incorrect?!"
Gee, I dunno, maybe because it's factually incorrect and you're wrong and there is an official timeline straight from Nintendo whether you like it or not.
And from reading your other comments, you're incredibly pretentious for someone who's so utterly and thoroughly wrong. If you want to read something that explains, pick up a copy of Hyrule Historia and try to comprehend each word contained within.
@LowlyPeasant I've looked at it, of course. The story for the first game(instruction booklet) specifically states that Ganon and his legion of monsters invades Hyrule and steals the triforce of power. So it's obviously unrelated to orcarina of time. Besides, what does Hyrule change form every other generation? Lol, sometimes death mountain is in the east and sometimes in the west? What about the four swords stories?
@mjc0961 No,no,no I'm quite certain that timeline was developed after fans kept asking about it. I remember Shigeru Miyamoto even said before that there is no timeline for the Zelda games. This is just an example of the developers trying to please all of their fans because oddly enough some were rather upset about the whole thing and kept nagging on for an official timeline. Lol. It all comes down to whatever makes you happy whether that be the magic sword, master sword, four sword, silver arrow or light arrow. I actually enjoy the diiferent takes on the Zelda universe and feel no need to connect all the stories together.
Fallen Hero Timeline
It's the same Ganondorf as OoT.
Change in geography is mostly a gameplay choice. Nintendo changes up the environment of Hyrule in order to keep the world fresh and new. Most of the Zelda games have managed to be consistent with its geography albeit with slight shifts in locations. I assume that the Adventure of Link's map is the one you're referencing. Let me remind you that the AoL's timeline is situated at the end of one of the timelines, and that in the span of that time, something could have occurred that resulted in the change of Hyrule's geography. And, while a large scale geographical shift in the Zelda universe seems a bit far fetched, can you honestly tell me that with all the absurd things that are accepted as logic within the same universe, a geographical shift, and explanation behind why one occurred is impossible? As for the four swords, what about them? They're different stories of a different Link facing off against a different villain, and their placement within the timeline has already been explained.
On a different note, I would like to throw this in. I doubt Nintendo had any idea that the Zelda timeline would come to be during the early stages of Zelda. However, do you honestly think that something as expansive as the Zelda timeline could have been created in one sitting? The answer is no, but that does not suddenly prevent Nintendo from adding more depth to Zelda's story. The very existence of the timeline itself was introduced as early as Wind Waker, which referenced one of the split timelines itself. AGAIN, I ask you, if NIntendo themselves stated that there is indeed a Zelda timeline, and DIRECTLY makes a reference to to one of the split timelines in Ocarina of Time, which goes to show that the Zelda games are canon, why would anyone have to accept the Zelda games as non-canon?
@GravyThief: Actually I disagree, I like having an official timeline and I'm totally fine with the on Nintendo created. I actually bought Hyrule Historia and the timeline is the best part about it in my opinion.
@ottospooky Not really. Wind Waker is clearly set in continuity after Ocarina of Time, that's why the whole world got sunken and the exact same Hyrule Castle from OoT can be found under water in WW.
Also, Skyward Sword is not a sequel but the starting point of the whole series. It's the prequel to anything else, the origin story if you will.
@Seacliff: "A lore where one side wins over 90% of the time"? Where are you getting that from? I think you didn't understand the official timeline correctly. In it, the hero actually lost most of the time. After OoT, three parallel timelines come into existence for the three possible outcomes of OoT.
1. The hero is defeated: Every time you die in OoT, no matter if it's in the final fight against Ganon or somewhere in between, this "failed" timeline comes into existence. So in other words, since one dies a lot while playing Zelda, most of the time the evil side wins.
2. The hero is successful and goes back in time into his childhood (Child Era): There is no hero of time (because he went back to his own time and lived a normal childhood), therefore there is no protector of Hyrule and so the Dark World (Twilight Realm) comes into existence.
3. The hero is successful and stays (Adult Era): Ganon is sealed away, but long after the original hero of time from OoT is gone, Ganon gets revived and since there is no hero, Hyrule is flooded.
So you see, in each of the three timelines the evil side wins most of the time, until a new hero is born and you play the games on those parallel timelines after OoT.
@evosteevo: I don't know how you could get the idea that Zelda games are non canon, just look at the official timeline. All games except for the philipps CDi games are canon! I think @LowlyPeasant already explained very well why you're wrong, but I guess you just don't want to admit it.
You mentioned the differences in geography between the games. This might come as a shock to you, but guess what: earth's geography has also changed during its history! Plus, since we're talking about parallel universes, it's totally normal for the geography to be different.
And what difference does it make whether the official timeline was developed after fans kept asking about it or not? They could've created that timeline yesterday and it still would be right. Because it's their property and their games, so Nintendo are the only authority that can decide what's canon and what's not.
Regarding the video: It's totally unwatchable because of the narrators... and also: what's the point?
As usual, a bunch of people who probably know diddly squat about the actual backstory of the games complaining about their being a timeline when it has been in existence as long as the second game in the series and when many of the major Zelda entries directly reference other Zelda titles.
It bemuses me how angry some people get about one existing. Yes, it's imperfect (due to Nintendo's gameplay-first focus and deciding to make OoT have like... four sequels), but it has always been there in some form or other.
@shani As far as I'm concern, your first point is the only time where a hero 'lost'.
Take into consideration what 'losing' is, it's the side that didn't win a 'conflict'. Starting a conflict doesn't mean a thing if you lost by the end of the game.
For Number 3, the flood was a solution for the gods to keep hyrule and ganon sealed away. There was no conflict. No one 'lost' and no one 'won'. The gods just wanted to keep a stalemate until the next hero comes around in Wind Waker. Who, by no big surprise, became victorious over ganon.
For Number 2... exactly what point are you trying to make? Yes, Twilight rises, there would be no Zelda game if there was no bad guy. But why does that make you think a bad guy won because of it? All that did was start a new conflict: Twilight Princess. While yes, Ganon killed a sage, not much was lost from those who opposed that evil at the end of the day.
Yes, sure, you can probably open up Hyrule Historia again and try to construct another argument, but take this first, outside of the possibility of the Hero getting killed in a single path of OOT, the status quo almost resets perfectly at the end of a Zelda game. What is this status quo? Evil rises (be it just before the next game or hundreds of years before) then a Hero comes and defeats it, which ends whatever conflict that started before said games begins, then a new conflict (sometimes related to the previous quest, sometimes not) rises and the process repeats. This is from someone who finished every Zelda game save Tri Force heroes and owns Hyrule Hystoria.
It's not a bad formula for a game's plot by any means, after all plots like Twilight Princess, Link to the Past, and Spirit Tracks make use of the formula by using interesting lore tidbits, but I don't think a timeline connecting the points of each time the status quo resets adds or subtracts from the experience of any Zelda game. I'm not going to call anyone off for liking the timeline, I can understand some of the appeal for it, but it's an idea that didn't sit well for me. I accept that it exists, but that's where my apperception for it ends.
@shani I agree with you that some things are very obvious in the timeline. But it definitely feels like outside of the obvious continuity everything else is open to interpretation
@Seacliff: Well yeah, but point #1 is by far the strongest argument of them all. I'll tell you why I think that: Imagine you just bought Ocarina of Time. Now you start playing it and at some point, you run out of hearts and die, may it be because you fell down a cliff, got attacked by some enemies or some other reason. It is at this point that the timeline of the universe you were playing in turns into the 'Hero is defeated' timeline. After you died, the game lets you continue playing at the same point (unless it was a dungeon), although Link died - that means the Link you're playing now is a different one, in a newly created universe. Then you die again at some point and the second universe is also doomed to have a 'Hero is defeated' timeline with no saviour. Now you play for ~100 hours or so, until you beat the game, and everytime you die, you, the hero, abandon another universe where the hero is defeated. This happens over and over again.
Finally, you manage not to die for once(!), when you beat Ganon in the final battle. This means this universe is the only one where 'the Hero is successful' applies and then, based on your decision at the end of OoT, the timeline either evolves into the Child Era or the Adult Era.
This means that in 99 out of 100 times, the world of Hyrule (in equally many parallel universes) has lost, while there's only one universe where it didn't. But of course, then the timeline splits into two separate timelines depending on the player's decision.
point #2: My argument is that that world is also 'lost' because Link goes back in time at the end of the game and abandons the universe (which BTW becomes a time paradox) he saved before. Ganon may be defeated but other bad guys that we don't know of can roam free without adult Link being around.
point #3: You're right about the flood, my mistake.
Just pointing out that I wanted to disprove that there is one side (I'm assuming you meant the 'good side' or Link's side) that wins most of the time. My point is that this particular side is rather losing most of the time.
And sure, the status quo reset is more or less standard with every game series. It's nothing special or anything, it's just necessary to make more games.
@ottospooky: Of course everyone can interpret things as they want, freedom of speech/opinion etc. But in my opinion, some are going too far by saying 'Nintendo's timeline is wrong/BS/whatever and stating that they have the 'real' timeline or that there is no timeline. Because if there are connecting dots (the obvious continuity) in some Zelda games, for me that basically means that they are all connected. Because it would be even more strange, counterintuitive and convoluted if only some of the games were supposed to be connected although all games are canon. Because otherwise the other games would be explicitly non-canon. And really, no matter what our opinions are, what's canon and what's not is only decided by Nintendo, not the fans.
They could make a Zelda game in space with cannons and airships and whatnot and we could complain all we want, it would still be canon (maybe in the distant future of Hyrule? Just kidding ) unless stated otherwise by the creators.
@LowlyPeasant you certainly put alot of effort into thar response so I won't argue with you. I've just always seen the Zelda games for what they are on the surface. Having grown up with the originals I saw the Zelda franchise differently until OoT was released. From my point of view they don't seem canon however, I understand the timeline you explained and I won't deny that those events do fit however I couldn't help but feel Zelda 2 would have fallen early in the timeline since the Zelda in that game was depicted as the real princess Zelda who had been put to sleep and sealed in a chamber although I understand it could be worked into the timeline.
@evosteevo Not really. If you follow the Zelda timeline as intensely as I have over the past decade or so, referencing and explaining it almost becomes second nature to me. More to the point, I can understand why a person would prefer to see the Zelda games as their own separate story, as I'm sure that a good number of people prefer a simple story as opposed to a long complex one like the Zelda timeline. The only point I'm trying to make here is that there is a definite Zelda timeline that is canon. Whether or not you choose to care for its existence, or simply take the Zelda series at surface value is entirely up to you.
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