The Legend of Zelda: Fallen Hero, Child and Adult Timelines, explained

The Legend of Zelda TimelinesYouTube: Nintendo of America

The Legend of Zelda has three distinct Timelines that each game belongs to, so here we will break down what they all are, which game belongs where, and how Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom fit into the picture.

The Legend of Zelda is one of the oldest and most beloved video game franchises of all time. One that still remains a juggernaut for Nintendo, with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the upcoming entry into the longstanding franchise, set to release in May of 2023.

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In the lead-up to this new Zelda title, many fans have begun speculating when and where this Breath of the Wild follow-up will fit in with the Zelda timeline, if at all.

Aren’t familiar with what the Zelda timeline is? Confused as to which game falls in each timeline? Thankfully, Dexerto’s got you covered below, as we’ve explained what the Timeline is, how many different branches there are, and which games fall into each section.

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What is The Legend of Zelda timeline? When was it created?

After decades of speculation and theories, Zelds fans were finally given an official map of the Zelda timeline back in 2011 via The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia. 

This official timeline rearranged all games released before 2011 into a cohesive-ish timeline that branches into three possible outcomes. The Fallen Hero Timeline, The Child Link Timeline, and the Adult Link Timeline.

The thing to note with the Zelda timeline is what game in the franchise really starts it all. While Skyward Sword may be the first versions of Zelda and Link canonically, it is actually Ocarina of Time that serves as the catalyst for the split between the three branches.

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It is a wild ride, and can be confusing at times. As a result, we’ve broken down the three Zelda timelines below, explained how and why they occurred, and of course, listed which Zelda games are included in each.

The Legend of Zelda: Fallen Hero Timeline

The Legend of Zelda Timelines fallenNintendo
The Fallen Hero Timeline is the darkest of all three

As the name suggests, the Fallen Hero timeline involves Link failing in his quest to defeat Ganondorf in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

After falling to Ganondorf, the villain is able to claim all three parts of the Triforce and become the Demon King. In order to stop Ganon from taking over the world, he is sealed in the Scared Realm alongside the completed Triforce. This sets in motion a timeline in which the villain is resurrected centuries later in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. 

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What follows is basically a loop of Ganon being revived, a new Link (or the same one) saving the world by defeating him, and then Ganon, yep you guessed it, being brought back to life once again to battle against Link.

Surprisingly, this timeline actually features the most games. So far, all the Zelda titles that are included in the Fallen Hero Timeline are the following:

  • A Link to the Past (1991)
  • Link’s Awakening (1993)
  • Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages (2001)
  • A Link Between Worlds (2013)
  • Tri Force Heroes (2015)
  • The Legend of Zelda (1986)
  • The Adventure of Link (1987)

The Legend of Zelda: Child Link Timeline

The Legend of Zelda Timelines childNintendo
The Child Timeline is often referred to as the fan-favorite

And here is when there is a real split in Timelines. In Ocarina of Time, players control two different versions of Link. A child one and an adult one seven years in the future. In this version of the timeline, Link is sent back to his childhood self after he defeats Ganondorf as an adult. 

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Now back in the past, Link is able to warn Princess Zelda and the Hyruleans of Ganondorf’s plans and his desire to take over given that he has already lived through these events. This allows Zelda to take action and stop Ganondorf’s rise to power.

There are only three Zelda games in the Child Timeline, which are listed below:

  • Majora’s Mask (2000)
  • Twilight Princess (2006)
  • Four Swords Adventures (2004)

The Legend of Zelda: Adult Link timeline

The Legend of Zelda Timelines adultNintendo
The Adult Timeline is the easiest to follow of all three

The Adult Link Timeline is the exact same as the child one. However, instead of sending Link back to the past as a child to warn Zelda of Ganondorf’s plans, Link goes back but never warns Zelda and seemingly vanishes from the face of the world.

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Therefore, when Ganondorf returns years later to take over, there is no Link to save the day. In a last-ditch effort to stop him, the Gods decide to flood all of Hyrule, submerging the land in a giant ocean of water. This sets in motion a whole new timeline, the Adult Timeline, in which Ganondorf emerges decades later. 

A new Link appears, saves the day, journey’s across the Hyrule sea, and then becomes a train driver in Spirit Tracks and Phantom Hourglass. While the original Hyrule Castle from Ocarina of Time does exist in some capacity, it is down below the sea.

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Similarly to the Child Timeline, the Adult Zelda timeline includes 3 games:

  • The Wind Waker (2002)
  • Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  • Spirit Tracks (2009)

Where do Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom fit in the Timeline?

Tears of the Kingdom 60FPSNintendo
Tears of the Kingdom could change the Zelda Timeline forever

This has now become the biggest debate in Zelda lore. After some sort of timeline was seemingly created, the newest Zelda titles flip the previously established dynamics on their head. This, in large part, is due to one crucial cutscene in Breath of the Wild.

When Princess Zelda knights Link, she mentions multiple past heroes, many of which do not take place in just one timeline. As a result, fans theorized that Breath of the Wild had merged all three timelines for good.

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However, Nintendo has never confirmed this theory, nor have they released an updated timeline. While they have said that Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are set far in the future from previous games, this does little to clear up the confusion.

With Ganondorf now back and confirmed as the main villain in Tears of the Kingdom, could we see a new timeline, or an update on the previously created one, established? Time will tell.

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Want more The Legend of Zelda content? Check out some of Dexerto’s coverage down below:

Who is Ganondorf? | All new enemies in Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom | How to access sky islands in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom | Do weapons still break in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom? | What is Ascend in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom? | Where to pre-order The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom | Are there Shrines in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

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