STSH's Simplified Cumulative Zelda Timeline
(Unfamiliar with Zelda? Click here for a crash course.)

Greetings Zelda fans.

Today I’ll be sharing what I call my Simplified Cumulative Timeline. This timeline isn’t meant to be flawless, in fact I personally disagree with some aspects of it, but many of the theories out there today are so needlessly complicated and overly speculative that I think it’s time to cut the fat and get back to the basics.

The Super Train Station H Simplified Cumulative Timeline is formed in stages by adding each Zelda game in the order of their release and placing them according to these criteria:



3. WORD OF GOD, including manuals and advertisements

This means I won’t make up evidence to link games together, nor will I try to defend any specific point of view or even prove anything in particular.

All I’m doing is adding the games one at a time to the timeline according the the aforementioned criteria, and doing so with as few conflicts as possible.

Let’s begin by examining the Zelda chronology that was the status quo prior to Ocarina of Time’s release.

They were only four games in the series then.

First, the original Legend of Zelda(LOZ) on the NES.

Second, Zelda 2: Adventure of Link(Z2), which took place no more than a year or two after the first Zelda and featured the same Link.

Third we go on to the Super Nintendo game, A Link to the Past(LTTP). When released, Link to the Past was known by WORD OF GOD and throughout the fandom to be set centuries before the NES games and to feature the predecessors of the 8-bit Link and Zelda.

This information appeared in every contemporary gaming magazine and players guide related to Link to the Past and even appeared on the game’s packaging. Only very recently has this notion been challenged.

After Link to the Past, we have Link’s Awakening(LA) on GameBoy, a direct sequel to Link to the Past featuring the same hero, who even relives his Super NES fight with Ganon as a nightmare during the final battle.

So, of the four games which preceded Ocarina of Time, there was a clear as day linear, logical sequence spanning two eras, the “ancient” era of Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening, and the “contemporary” era of The Legend of Zelda and Zelda 2.

I vividly remember the era in which this was common knowledge, there was no dispute, no conflicts or continuity problems, and everything was perfect.

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 1, 1993:

[LTTP, LA]   [LOZ, Z2]


Then Ocarina of Time(OOT) comes out, which was known by WORD OF GOD to take place centuries before any of the other games.

Ocarina of Time explains to us the origins of Link’s green garb, the origins of Ganondorf, and the first appearance of his beast form, and shows us the origins of the connection between Link, Zelda and Ganon.

This is the game that depicts the roots of the Hero’s legacy and the struggle against Ganon that serves as the backbone for the series.

So, quite obviously Ocarina of Time is first in the timeline, and stars a new Link. No one at the time disputed this.

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 2, 1998:

[OOT]   [LTTP, LA]   [LOZ, Z2]


They were timeline discussions back then, but they generally weren’t debates as to which games went where, but more observations of the connections that linked the games together.

Around 1999, for the very first time you’d start coming across the odd Zelda fansite that would insist on arranging the games in their order of release, or putting Link’s Awakening at the end of the timeline, claiming that it was the result of Link getting lost on his raft while exploring that game’s overworld, but most knowledgeable Zelda fans stuck firmly with the order we see in Cumulative Timeline No. 2, and were confident that the timeline spanned three eras and featured three Links.

Some of you may not be old enough to remember this, but I can personally attest that when when Ocarina of Time was the latest Zelda game, I saw absolutely no concept of a split timeline being expressed in the online Zelda fandom. There was no splitting the proceeding games into “Timeline A” or “Timeline B” or anything like that, and it was common consensus that Ocarina of Time ended in two time periods, but with a singular conclusion, which is that Ganondorf is sealed away and that Link returns to being a child in an era of peace, retaining the experience gained during the “future” era, and his Triforce piece.

Then Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask(MM) was announced. Before Majora’s Mask was even released, it was WORD OF GOD and common knowledge that Termina was an alternate reality of Ocarina of Time’s Hyrule existing in a parallel universe. This was repeated in so many official Nintendo websites, players guides, and promotional materials that it was impossible to miss. The idea that Termina is an ordinary country neighboring Hyrule is a very, very recent development, but that’s beside the point.

Majora’s Mask was both a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time, and a side story, which was confirmed by Nintendo to have taken place roughly a year after the end of Majora’s Mask. Note once again that there was no specification made at the time that Majora’s Mask follows the “child” or “past” ending of Ocarina of Time, only that it takes place shortly after Ocarina of Time’s conclusion.

So, with Majora’s Mask, the timeline looks like this,

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 3, 2000:

[OOT, MM]   [LTTP, LA]   [LOZ, Z2]


And then, in 2001, things begin to get a little screwy and nebulous.

On the GameBoy Color, we get the twin release of Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons(ORACLES).

At the time these games came out, some fans were reluctant to accept them as being of the same cloth as the others, mainly because they were the first officially endorsed Zelda games to be made by a third party, Capcom.

Furthermore these games seemed to totally disregard continuity, appropriating characters from other Zelda games that previously had no relation, depicting mortal characters named Din and Nayru who shared their names with the Goddesses of creation, and not even taking place in Hyrule proper, which lead some Zelda players at the time to consider the games apocryphal, unimportant, or even divorced from the timeline entirely.

However, since it turned out that the Oracle games, when played together, tell the story of a plot by Twinrova to revive Ganon, we know that they have a direct link to the struggle against the primary antagonist of the series.

As I mentioned before, Oracle’s connection to the other games is nebulous and imprecise, but as far as plot continuity goes, the only preceding requirements for their taking place is that they come after Ocarina of Time, and that they begin at a time when the Triforce complete and enshrined, since the relic teleports Link to the nations in which the Oracle games take place.

Also, in the intro to the Oracle games it’s apparent that Link is already a seasoned adventurer, which would seemingly rule out the concept of this Link being a brand new hero.

So, where in the then current timeline are these conditions met?

Well, what if we try to place Oracles in the Ocarina of Time era following Majora’s Mask? Well, that can’t work, because at the end of Ocarina of Time the Triforce is divided between Link, Zelda, and Ganon.

So where else might Oracles fit in?

Some players interpret that in Oracles, Twinrova is resurrecting Ganon from the dead, not unsealing him from any sort of divine imprisonment. In 2001, the original Legend of Zelda was widely perceived to be an account of the final death of Ganon, which is supported by Zelda 2, in which Ganon’s followers plot to murder Link and use his blood to reanimate Ganon’s mortal remains.
So, is Oracle a depiction of another attempt to revive a deceased Ganon following Zelda 2?

The way in which Twinrova attempts to revive Ganon in Oracles seems to have no connection to the method spoken of in Zelda 2, so may concern a different period in which Ganon was defeated in a way which required a different sort of magic to revive him.

The most straightforward way to interpret Twinrova’s talk of Ganon’s “return” in Oracles is that Ganon was sealed away or in limbo as we’ve seen in all games then involving him aside from Legend of Zelda.

In 2001 the least problematic place for Oracles is following Links Awakening and featuring the same Link. This placement meets the requirements for Oracle’s occurrence nicely.

Also, I’ll mention here that Twinrova in Oracles being the same character who raised Ganondorf in the backstory of Ocarina of Time makes little sense since in that game Twinrova is explicitly shown to have been killed by Link in the Spirit Temple. This is one of those things that’s better just to accept at face value and not get picky about.

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 4, 2001:



Next we have the 2002 release of The Four Swords(4 Swords), which was a multiplayer add on to the GameBoy Advance port of Link to the Past.

Everything about The Four Swords was a conceit for the sake of providing a multiplayer Zelda experience and seemed to have been deliberately designed to be of minimal significance to the rest of the timeline.

Therefore I found myself scratching my head when WORD OF GOD and a considerable swath of the Zelda fandom began to place The Four Swords before Ocarina of Time, making it the first game in the Zelda saga.

Aonuma himself says “The GBA Four Swords Zelda is what we’re thinking as the oldest tale in the Zelda timeline…”

This totally blew my mind at the time. How could The Four Swords, a gimmicky, inconsequential side game tacked on to Link to the Past with minimal significance or purpose aside from providing a multiplayer Zelda experience suddenly be so important as to be the opening chapter of Hyrule’s history? Especially when Ocarina of Time filled the role of being Link and Zelda’s origin so perfectly.

Well, despite my own dislike of The Four Swords coming before Ocarina of Time, we have the quotes from Aonuma to prove official endorsement of the idea, and enough of the Zelda fandom has embraced it that this has become a common, popular point of view.

So, I’m going to follow my own rules about placement and lay out Timeline No. 5 as follows,

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 5, 2002:

[4 Swords]   [OOT, MM]   [LTTP, LA, ORACLES]   [LOZ, Z2]


Next, comes The Wind Waker(TWW) on Gamecube.

Leading up to Wind Waker’s release, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma gave birth to the split timeline theory by specifying that The Wind Waker took place after the Adult Link ending of Ocarina of Time. The split timeline is now considered canon by the majority of the Zelda fandom, and has been confirmed on several occasions to be the viewpoint adopted by Aonuma and Miyamoto. 
So, according to the three criteria, the 5th version of the Simplified Cumulative Timeline is now a split timeline which looks like this:

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 6, 2003:

TIMELINE A:  [4 Swords]   [OOT, MM]   [LTTP, LA , ORACLES]   [LOZ, Z2]

TIMELINE B:  [4 Swords]   [OOT]   [TWW]

(note: while the split actually takes place following Ocarina of Time, for simplicity’s sake I’ll display the parallel timelines as separate from the outset)

It’s at this point that the debates between the linear timeline and split timeline started, with splitists citing Aonuma’s interpretation of Ocarina of Time’s ending and supporting the split with evidence from other games, and linearists arguing that Ocarina of Time itself does not support the idea of timelines splitting from a simultaneously existing past and future.

I’ll make mention here that though the notion of there being multiple Heroes in the Zelda saga had been around for over a decade by this point, The Wind Waker was the very first game in the series to make this explicit and even concerns that game’s hero dressing as the Link from Ocarina of Time as part of a coming of age ritual.

Next we have Four Swords Adventures(FSA), also on Gamecube.

Unlike the first Four Swords game, Four Swords Adventures actually ties in in with the main story involving Ganon. This game explains the origins of the evil Trident Ganon uses in Link to the Past, and possibly even shows how Gannon permanently lost his humanoid form.

Eiji Aonuma said of The Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures:
"The GBA Four Swords Zelda is what we’re thinking as the oldest tale in the Zelda timeline.  With this one on the GameCube being a sequel to that, and taking place some time after that. "

So, Four Swords Adventures is the sequel to The Four Swords. Does Aonuma mean that Four Swords Adventure directly follows The Four Swords in the way that Zelda 2 follows the first Legend of Zelda?

No, that can’t be because Four Swords Adventures deals with Ganon in his beast form, which didn’t appear until the final battle of Ocarina of Time, the game that depicts the original rise of Ganondorf. Aonuma said that Four Swords Adventures took place “some time” after that, so that leaves it for us to place.

Where is the most logical place to insert Four Swords Adventures into the timeline?

Well, as Four Swords Adventures can be taken as a prequel to Link to the Past and must take place after The Four Swords and Ocarina of Time at a period in which Ganon is sealed away, Four Swords Adventures can safely be placed in Timeline A in a new era between Majora’s Mask and Link to the Past without causing any problems.

So, Four Swords Adventures fits in as follows,

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 7, 2004:

TIMELINE A:  [4 Swords]   [OOT, MM]   [FSA]   [LTTP, LA , ORACLES]   [LOZ, Z2]

TIMELINE B:  [4 Swords]   [OOT]   [TWW]


Next up is The Minish Cap (TMC), the first Four Swords related game to be a traditional single player Zelda quest akin to Link to the Past or Links Awakening. In fact it isn’t apparent that this game deals with the Four Sword itself until after the first dungeon is completed.

This game features a new Link who is at first hatless, but wears the transformed Minish wise man Ezlo on his head in place of a hat throughout the adventure. At the end of the game, the restored Ezlo gives Link his own green hat to keep, saying that it suits him well.

No mention is made of Ganondorf or a struggle for the Triforce. Furthermore, The Minish Cap is widely believed in the fandom to be the origin of Link’s hat in all the other Zelda adventures, and so is placed at the beginning of the timeline as the opening chapter of the Zelda saga.

Since The Minish Cap is an account of the origins of the Four Sword which was otherwise first featured in the GBA Four Swords game, then according to our current timeline, The Minish Cap must preceded The Four Swords and be the first game. There is nothing I can see specifically preventing the the hero and princess of The Minish Cap and The Four Swords from being the same individuals, so I’ll place them in the same era.

Though The Minish Cap is perhaps my favorite Zelda, I personally dislike the idea that a side-story completely absent of Ganon and the Triforce is now widely considered the origin of Link’s heroic status, but following my own rules, the 8th Simplified Cumulative Timeline is as follows,

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 8, 2005:

TIMELINE A:  [TMC, 4 Swords]   [OOT, MM]   [FSA]   [LTTP, LA, ORACLES]   [LOZ, Z2]

TIMELINE B:  [TMC, 4 Swords]   [OOT]   [TWW]


In 2006, Twilight Princess(TP) came out for the Gamecube and Wii, and it’s widely accepted in the fandom and stated by WORD OF GOD that Twilight Princess takes place a century or two after Ocarina of Time’s Young Link ending, which is our Timeline A.

This game was probably the very first to intentionally lend itself to the split timeline, as it basically proposes that after Young Link’s ending of Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf was exposed as a traitor by Young Link and Zelda before he could enter the Sacred Realm, and was sentenced to death. In Twilight Princess we see the failed execution of Ganondorf at the Arbiter’s Grounds and his exile to the Twilight Realm.

They are continuity errors regarding this, which I’ve already gone into in depth, but those aside, this placement of Twilight Princess and its connection to Ocarina of Time’s Young Link ending works well enough and is widely embraced by the fans, so it will go right where it is most obvious, after Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask in Timeline A, in a new era starring a new hero.

At the end of this game we can see that Ganondorf is killed by Link, and since in Timeline A, Ganon’s humanoid form is not seen again after this point, we can safely reason that the humanoid form which was his original body was killed in Twilight Princess, and that that Ganon’s spirit is in limbo or otherwise sealed away. This plays nicely into Four Swords Adventures, in which Ganon is called an “ancient demon reborn”, suggesting that he is now more a spiritual entity than a human being.

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 9, 2006:

TIMELINE A:  [TMC, 4 Swords]   [OOT, MM]   [TP]   [FSA]   [LTTP, LA, ORACLES]   [LOZ, Z2]

TIMELINE B:  [TMC, 4 Swords]   [OOT]  


Phantom Hourglass
(PH) on Nintendo DS is extraordinarily easy to place with no controversy whatsoever. It is clearly a direct sequel to The Wind Waker and features the same Link and Zelda, so it goes right after The Wind Waker in Timeline B.

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 10, 2007:

TIMELINE A:  [TMC, 4 Swords]   [OOT, MM]   [TP]   [FSA]   [LTTP, LA, ORACLES]   [LOZ, Z2]

TIMELINE B:  [TMC, 4 Swords]   [OOT]   [TWW, PH]


I only just started playing Phantom Hourglass, so I haven’t even touched Spirit Tracks(ST) and have deliberately avoided spoilers for it, but I’ve heard mentions in the fandom of it taking place a century or two after Phantom Hourglass, so hopefully I’m correct in placing it there. If there’s anything drastically illogical about this please let me know, but for now I’ll place Spirit Tracks here,

STSH Simplified Cumulative Timeline No. 11, 2009:

TIMELINE A:  [TMC, 4 Swords]   [OOT, MM]   [TP]   [FSA]   [LTTP, LA, ORACLES]   [LOZ, Z2]

TIMELINE B:  [TMC, 4 Swords]
  [OOT]   [TWW, PH]   [ST]

So, there you have it, the complete timeline as of January 2009 in my Simplified Cumulative format.

To me, this is the most logical, sensible, straightforward, no-nonsense timeline that can be formulated using the games themselves, the perception of the fandom, and input from the creators.
I don’t consider this definitive or flawless, and while I’ll defend my logic or correct errors I’ll also just as quickly fix something thats blatantly incorrect and will reject my own ideas if I don’t think they hold up.

This in fact is not even my personal ideal timeline. In the future I’ll be laying out my own ideal Zelda timelines and exploring the very exciting literal legend theory in later features here at

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