The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia, which is set in a somewhat shaky timeline, is a shambles. Instead of a nice simple line, it includes three distinct paths that have gone through, time travel, and other weirdness.
The History of The Legend of Zelda
The goddess Hylia takes the people of this remote world and places them in their safe haven above the ground. Skyloft is the original name for the gods Din, Nayru, and Farore.
This leads to the actual first game on the timeline: Skyward Sword. Link drops down from Skyloft to save Zelda in the land that would later be dubbed Hyrule. He also has to deal with the Demon King Demise, who curses Link, stating that some incarnation of evil will always prey upon descendants of Link and Zelda.
Although Link's prehistoric form isn't completely complete, it's still required his iconic green cap, which is why The Minish Cap is next on the agenda. Here, Link recruits the help of Ezlo (who takes the form of a green cap) to defeat the Wind Mage Vaati. In Four Swords, Vaati makes a comeback.
The timeline is a bit complicated here because the branching paths start from this game. Ganondorf tricks the Royal Family of Hyrule into trusting him, although what Ganondorf really wants is the Triforce. Link attempts to open the Temple of Time to grab the Master Sword before Ganondorf can take control, but he is too late. Zelda's last ditch effort to save Hyrule is to toss Link with the titular Ocarina.
After that, the light mage Rauru puts Link into a seven-year sleep. When he awakens in the future, he conquers the five Hyrule temples in order to finally meet Ganondorf. He is successful at first, but then he must confront Ganon's true form on Hyrule Castle.
The timeline of the timeline will descend in three ways: after Ganon is killed, Zelda sends Link back in time to mourn the seven years he was put to sleep. One branch follows Link as he returns to his childhood, and the other follows Hyrule's fate.
There is also the possibility that Link will fail in the battle against Ganon. In that scenario, a third branch is created where the seven sages seal Ganon away. So, the three timeline branches that emerge as a result of Ocarina of Time are:
- The Child Era: When Link returns to his childhood
- The Adult Era: Where Ganon is slain, but there is no Link to protect Hyrule
- The Fallen Era: Where Link fails to defeat Ganon
Link explores the forest in search of his old pal, Navi, who turns him into a Deku Scrub. From there, the events of Majora's Mask unfold. Within three days, Link seeks the help of the four giants to prevent the Moon from crash landing on Termina, and Link defeats Majora.
Ganondorf tries to make a comeback with the help of Zant, who comes from the Twilight Realm, many years after this ends. Later, he encounters the same hero from Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, who teaches this new Link how to use his sword.
Fast forward many years later. Ganondorf receives a new form, and this one liberates Vaati from the Four Sword. Therefore, Link divides himself into four beings again in Four Sword Adventures to complete this part of the timeline.
After Zelda sends Link back in time, the seal on Ganondorf weakened to the point where he could escape. He then grabs the Triforce, and the gods' only reaction is to engulf Hyrule where no one can find it.
The next incarnation of Link is born on one of Hyrule's islands. In the game of the same name, he sails the seas on The Wind Waker to defeat Ganon and restore Hyrule to its previous glory.
After that, Link and Tetra (a long descendent of Zelda) travel to the World of the Ocean King to investigate missing ships in Phantom Hourglass. Later on, a new Link, with the help of a train, defeats Malladus in Spirit Tracks, completing this branch of the timeline.
If Ganon defeats Link at the end of Ocarina of Time, this third part of the timeline comes to an end. Ganon is sealed away in the Sacred Realm by the seven sages (with help from Zelda herself). Hyrule then remains fairly calm until the wizard Aghanim appears and attempts to free him from the seal.
Aghanim travels across the land of Hyrule searching for the seven maidens, but is ultimately unsuccessful. Ganon is freed and turns the whole land into the Dark World, forcing Link to defeat six more temples before he can defeat Aghanim and Ganon at the Pyramid of Power.
Link is trapped on Koholint Island for a period of time. With the help of Marin, he plays the Ballad of the Wind Fish to wake the said Wind Fish. After a fight with Nightmare, it's revealed that it was all a dream.
Twinrova decides to try and rekindle Ganon's existence (again) but fails to defeat Twinrova and a mindless form of Ganon.
The mysterious Yuga is sent to a Hyrule many years after the Oracle games, which is very similar to the one seen in A Link to the Past. Yuga finds the seven sages and paints them before returning to his homeland of Lorule, with Link in pursuit. After Link defeats Yuga, he uses the Triforce to reclaim Lorule.
Princess Styla is cursed with wearing an irremovable jumpsuit far away in the land of Hytopia. Three Links are sent to deal with the situation in Triforce Heroes.
Ganon is revived (once more) and makes a play for the Triforce. Now in nine pieces, Link must remove the items from the original Legend of Zelda game in Adventure of Link, where Link battles a dark version of himself to obtain the Triforce of Courage.
Calamity Ganon captures Zelda and transforms Hyrule Castle into a nightmarish stronghold, putting Link into a hundred-year sleep. When Link awakes, he recovers his memories and frees Zelda.
Tears of the Kingdom, the latest installment in the series, will be released in early May 2023. When it arrives, it will be the first game in the timeline to follow all three branches.
Do you want more Zelda news? Check out our Pro Game Guides for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Trailer Breakdown.