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The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story, Explained (Lore & Storyline Summary)


The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story, Explained (Lore & Storyline Summary)

A story as old as time.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

In The Beginning…

zelda wii u NX

Before there were dungeons, sages, a hero, a princess, and the King of the Gerudos, there were the three goddesses that watched over the universe. These were The Goddess of Wisdom Nayru, The Goddess of Power Din, and The Goddess of Courage Farore, who were created together and came down to save Hyrule from the madness that had enveloped the land. Thanks to their many powers, the three goddesses were able to reform and mold the land and civilization to something with law and order.

Once the three goddesses finished changing Hyrule for the better, they ascended back into the heavens, each of them leaving behind a symbol of their power. These pieces formed what was called the Triforce, with the three sections representing Wisdom, Power, and Courage. Those who possessed all three parts to this mystical relic would have their deepest desire granted, thus due to its importance, the artifact was bestowed upon the Goddess Hylia, one of the most powerful deities in all of The Legend of Zelda. However, in an attempt to recover the Triforce, the malicious Demon King known as Demise waged war against the people of Hyrule and Hylia.

In order to save the last remaining people of Hyrule, Hylia lifted a portion of the earth and sent it into the sky. Along with this went the Triforce, as she knew it would be protected from Demise there. Now with the lands ravaged by evil, those left above lived out their lives in this land of Skyloft, honoring the deity that saved them. But Hylia’s work was not done yet, as she and the remaining inhabitants banned together, sealing Demise away with their magic.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

The Kingdom of Hyrule’s Creation

(The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)


Many years passed, and the people of the sky continued to live peacefully until the 25th anniversary of the Knight Academy, when a young girl named Zelda was captured by a Demon Lord known as Ghirihim. After this, the Goddess Hylia bestowed upon one of her followers, Link, the Goddess Sword and a companion known as Fi to aid in rescuing Zelda and stop Ghirihim from freeing Demise. After vanquishing an army of beasts, scouring every dungeon, and claiming the powerful Master Sword, Link chases Ghirihim into the past.

Sadly, Link was not able to stop Ghirihim from reviving Demise, who upon returning consumes Zelda as a powerful beast known as The Imprisoned. Shifting back to his normal appearance, Demise explains to Link that he plans on dominating the world. However, he agrees to duel Link to the death, and after a long and dangerous battle, becomes mortally wounded. Before he is killed, Demise explains that despite this loss, his power will be reborn in the form of another being (Ganon) and that this cycle will continue. He is then destroyed, with his remains fusing into the Master Sword that is then returned to the Temple of the Goddess in Skyloft.

The world is then warped and cleansed by the Golden Goddess and Hylia, which eventually led to the general populace and species returning to the land once more. However, to protect the world from the immense power that was the Triforce and the Master Sword, both were separated and sealed away in different locations. The Master Sword was sealed behind the Door of Time in the Temple of Light by a powerful sage known as Rauru. The keys, three spiritual stones, were then scattered, making it nearly impossible for someone to break the seal and obtain the sword. As for the Triforce, it was sent to the Sacred Realm, which is effectively an alternate world meant to keep this item out of evil’s hands.

The family destined to oversee these artifacts of power were considered to have the blood of Hylia, and were responsible for officially establishing the kingdom of Hyrule. Charged with watching over both the Triforce and the Master Sword, the royal family ruled over the land, with each subsequent queen being named Zelda in honor of the world’s founding.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

The Ressurection & Defeat of Vaati, The Wind Mage

(The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords)


As time went on, Hyrule became a land of peace that was free of darkness and the monsters that once plagued it. This was thanks to a Picori (aka Minish), a tiny magical being that gifted the people of Hyrule with a mystical container called the Bound Chest and a powerful an energy source called the Light Force. These were used together to seal away all of the evil beings that roamed the land of Hyrule, allowing this society to grow for a 100 years.

Yet, on the 100th anniversary of the emergence of the Bound Chest and the Light Force, a sword contest was held where the mysterious man known as Vaati emerged victorious. During the ceremony, he shattered the seal on the Bound Chest with a Picori Blade, releasing all of the evil back into the world and turning Princess Zelda into stone. Her father, King Daltus, urged the young hero Link to seek out a sacred blade that was a combination of four separate blades and bestowed whoever carried it with the ability to split into four different heroes.

During this time, Vaati used his magic to trick King Daltus into enveloping Hyrule in a shroud of darkness, forever dooming it unless Vaati was stopped. Link confronted and defeated Vaati, where it was revealed that he was, in fact, a Minish. Vaati was then confronted by his former master and fellow Minish Ezlo, who had been transformed into a hat that can grant the wearer any wish they desire. Since Vaati was slain, Link used his Four Swords to free Zelda from her imprisonment and then allowed her to use Ezlo to wish away all of the evil within Vaati. This, along with the Light Force, restored balance to the lands of Hyrule as the monsters were vanquished and sealed away once more.


However, Vaati was actually not dead, and the sorcerer returned to the lands of Hyrule once more. Yet, this came with a catch, as he no longer had any memory of his time as a Picori nor his desire to obtain the Light Force. Instead, Vaati established himself in a large temple which he dubbed the Palace of Wind, giving himself the new moniker of The Great Sorcerer of the Wind, Vaati. During his reign of terror, the mage would ransack villages, kidnap beautiful girls, and slay those who came to rescue the imprisoned citizens. According to a story that is largely believed to be myth, just when all hope seemed lost, a young boy set off into the woods and returned days later with the girls. Regardless of what really happened, Vaati was now imprisoned within the Four Swords itself, acting as a pseudo prison for the all-powerful wind mage.

Years upon years passed as generations watched over the powerful Four Swords to ensure the kingdom’s safety, but one day Princess Zelda felt the power of this blade beginning to weaken. Summoning Link, the two investigated just as Vaati broke out from the magical seal. Seeing Zelda, Vaati whisked her away to make the woman his bride in order to commemorate his return and celebrate his power. Link, of course, chased after the mage. With the Four Swords in hand, Link learned that the only way to get into the Palace of Wind was to prove himself courageous enough for the Great Fairies. After many dungeons and beasts felled, Link finally launched an attack on Vaati and his temple.

Link then fought Vaati and once more sealed the wind sorcerer inside of the Four Swords, saving both Hyrule and Princess Zelda. To this day, this weapon contains the mage Vaati and is watched carefully by every generation of new Hylians to ensure the kingdom’s safety.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

The Hero of Time and Splitting of the Timeline

(The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

After some time passed, a large conflict broke out across the land of Hyrule dubbed the Hyrulean Civil War, though the reasonings and those involved have remained a mystery. At the peak of the war, a young Hylian woman fled into the woods with her infant boy in search of the Great Deku Tree. Leaving him there, her young son named Link was raised by the Kokiri, a race of children that never age into adulthood and thus live away from the rest of society.

Eventually the war ended, and once Link was a young boy, he suffered from a terrible nightmare that foresaw an evil force stalking Princess Zelda. This caused the Great Deku Tree to dispatch a the small fairy Navi to summon Link and watch over him during his forthcoming adventure. Once Link arrived, he was informed by the Deku Tree that a powerful evil known as Ganondorf has begun his rise to power, and that in order to warn Zelda, he’d need to take the Spiritual Stone of Forest to her.

After arriving in the Hyrulian Castle, Link met with Princess Zelda and warned her of Ganondorf’s scheme. She then explained that in order to stop him, Link would need to obtain the other two Spiritual Stones as they were keys for the Temple of Time, which currently housed the legendary Master Sword.

Setting off on his adventure, Link eventually retrieved both the Fire and Water Spiritual Stones and returned to the Temple of Time. However, when returning to Hyrule Castle, Link witnessed Zelda fleeing for her life. Ganondorf chased after her, looking to secure her piece of the Triforce. Before vanishing from sight, Princess Zelda threw to Link the Ocarina of Time, which is a magical instrument whose songs can alter everything from the weather to Link’s location, and even the fabric of time itself. Returning to the temple, Link seized the Master Sword and was thrown seven years into the future, where Ganondorf had become the supreme ruler.

We should also note that it is believed the Great Cataclysm occurred somewhere during this time, a moment where Ganon broke into the Sacred Realm, touched the Triforce, and caused it to break apart again, him acquiring the Triforce of Power.

Zelda Halo Forge

Link was then instructed by the mysterious Shiek, a member of the Shiekah’s tribe, that in order to stop Ganondorf he’d need the help of the seven sages. These mystical people would first need to be saved, as their temples have been taken over by Ganondorf’s monsters. After a long journey, Link would eventually save every single sage, only to learn that Shiek was in fact the seventh sage. The slender man then revealed that he was none other than Princess Zelda in disguise, and with these powerful beings supporting Link, he fought his way towards Ganondorf at the very top of Hyrule Castle.

This is where things get a bit complicated, as The Legend of Zelda timeline will now split into one of three different stories based on the outcome of Link’s battle with Ganondorf. If he is killed and Ganondorf is victorious, the timeline will shift to the “Hero is Defeated” story arc. However, if Link is victorious, his timeline will follow the “Hero is Triumphant,” which then splits into two based on if Link was an adult or child when vanquishing Ganon. These three timelines have since never intersected with one another, and the events of each one are radically different. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time marks the last moment when this series had a single narrative.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

The Hero Has Fallen and The Return of Ganon

(The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,)

The Legend of Zelda

Sadly, in this The Legend of Zelda timeline Link failed in his task to stop Ganondorf and had his portion of the Triforce (the Triforce of Courage) stolen from him. Ganon then consumed Zelda’s portion, the Triforce of Wisdom, and since he already possessed the Triforce of Power, he was on track to become the most powerful being in all of Hyrule. Yet, his efforts were stopped, as he was sealed away in the Sacred Realm by the seven sages. However, this came at the cost of the Sacred Realm transforming into the Dark World via Ganondorf’s magic.

For many years Hyrule then enjoyed peace, until a series of unknown, violent occurrences began to crop up throughout the land. Fearing for his people, the King of Hyrule offered a reward to any traveler willing to stop the source of these events. It was at this time that a powerful sorcerer named Agahnim made his appearance. The wizard stopped the chaotic events, was praised by the king for his efforts, and was deemed the chief adviser to the ruler of Hyrule. Given the Hylians have historically bad luck with mysterious individuals, it turns out that Agahnim was using his magic to brainwash the soldiers underneath the king’s rule.

Link was then awoken to find his uncle sneaking out of the house with a sword and shield, wherein he followed to a mysterious dungeon only to find his relative dying. In his last moments, Link was gifted with his weapons and informed that he is actually a descendant of the Knights of Hyrule. With this knowledge and gear, Link stormed the castle and rescued Zelda from Agahnim, leaving her in the protection of a powerful sage known as Sahasrahla. He was then told by the priest that in order to stop the powerful wizard, he would need to acquire the Master Sword and three Pendants from different temples.

Upon obtaining these items, Link discovered that in his absence, Agahnim discovered Zelda and banished her to the Dark World. The duo then fought, and once Agahnim was defeated. He used the last of his magic to send our hero into this twisted realm, as well, and Link only survived thanks to a mysterious item he was given earlier dubbed the Magic Mirror. This mirror allowed him to cross between both the Light and Dark Realms, and using it, Link chased after Agahnim only to discover that the sorcerer was actually–to no one’s surprise–Ganon’s alter ego. The two had one last battle in which Ganon was slain, and the Triforce was safe once more, allowing Hyrule another era of peace.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

The Triforce Splits

(The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, The Legend of Zelda, and Zelda II: The Adventures of Link)

The Legend of Zelda

After the events of the Great Cataclysm, the Triforce was split into three separate parts. Eventually, an evil wizard named Yuga (are you seeing a pattern here?) arrived and attempted to take control of Hyrule once more. However, he was eventually stopped by Link and Zelda, which caused the once shattered Triforce to become whole once more. Thanks to this all-powerful item, the lands of Hyrule entered a golden age of prosperity where kings ruled over the land with compassion. Yet, as time passed, the last of these mighty kings sought out a worthy successor that would not allow Hyrule to plunge into total chaos.

Sadly, this was not possible. The King deemed his son unworthy to wield the item, and in a desperate attempt to save his people, he split the Triforce once again. Upon the King’s death, the prince was only to obtain the Triforce of Power and Wisdom, with Courage seeming to be lost forever. That was until a wizard (okay people need to stop trusting wizards) came to the prince and explained that the last piece was actually with his younger sister Zelda. After refusing the Triforce to the wizard, he cast a spell on her, putting the young heiress into an eternal slumber, which ironically also caused the sorcerer’s death. Realizing the error in his ways, the prince sealed Zelda away and declared that all daughters were to be named Zelda in order to protect her location and true identity.

The Legend of Zelda

Due to the Triforce being split apart, the kingdom of Hyrule shrank drastically, which weakened it enough for the Demon King Ganon to return and wage war against these people. Ganon was able to secure the Triforce of Power, but to preserve the Triforce of Wisdom, the current Princess Zelda split the object into seven parts. Her guardian Impa then fled the castle in order to search for someone with enough courage to lay the Demon King to waste. During her travels, she was besieged by Ganon’s forces, but they were stopped by a young adventurer named Link. After hearing Impa’s tale, he agreed to search the land for the seven pieces of the Triforce and use it to save Hyrule.

His quest was eventually complete and the hero confronted Ganon in Death Mountain, where the Demon King was destroyed once again. This allowed Link to obtain the Triforce of Power and jumpstarted his journey to find the Triforce of Courage, which was still hidden away. Meanwhile Ganon, despite being killed, still had some sway over the land via his minions, who were currently seeking Link out in order to kill him and use his blood to resurrect Ganon.

Impa then offered Link six crystals and a scroll that revealed the location of the Triforce of Courage, however, in order to obtain this he would need to kill the Guardian Deities. After all six were vanquished, the magical barrier around the Great Palace fell, allowing Link to obtain the final piece of the Triforce. With this mystical object finally completed and Ganon permanently vanquished, the land of Hyrule finally knew true peace.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

The Hero is Victorious (Child Era)

(The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess,
and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure)

Zelda, boss, Zant, Twilight Princess

In this timeline, the evil prince Ganon was defeated, however, Link did not remain in his adult form. After his victory in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link warned both Zelda and her father about a disastrous future that would take place if the duo did nothing to kill Ganondorf. However, he was not destined to stay. His fairy companion Navi took off after his victory, spurring the young hero on an adventure to find her. The only item he carried outside of his horse Epona and basic gear was the Ocarina of Time, which was gifted to him by Zelda as a memento.

A few months passed, until one day in a mysterious forest Link was confronted by a powerful being known as Skull Kid. After stealing his horse, the unknown figure tricked Link into chasing him and imprisoned the boy in the land of Termina. Some time would pass and eventually Link would confront Skull Kid, vanquishing him and the demonic mask he possessed. This allowed the adventurer to return to the woods and the land of Hyrule once more, where he continued his journey for Navi and vanished into the forest with his horse Epona.

Flash forward a few years, and Ganondorf is finally brought before the Sages for his execution to rid him of this land once and for all. To the Sages’s surprise, Ganon still possessed the Triforce of Power, and so they banished him to the Twilight Realm instead, hoping to finally rid the world of the Demon Prince. This eventually failed when Ganondorf, after many lost years, struck a deal with a powerful Twili named Zant. In exchange for complete control of the Twilight Realm he would free Ganondorf and gift him with untold power. This kicked off the Age of Twilight, as the duo invaded the realm of Hyrule, merging both the land of light and twilight together.

games, Link, hero of time, google maps

This caused the Twilight Princess Midna to seek out help in order to correct the chaos caused by Zant and Ganondorf. She eventually found Link, who at the time was cursed to the form of a wolf, and agreed to help him return to his human form in exchange for him saving this land. Link agreed, and after discovering the Master Sword, gained the ability to switch between being a wolf and a human. Midna then explained that in order to stop Zant, Link would need to obtain pieces of the Fused Shadow, which were scattered and protected all across Hyrule. During his journey he met with the former Hero of Time (now a skeletal warrior) from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, who agreed to train him in the art of combat.

Soon enough, Link was able to confront and kill Zant, leaving only Ganondorf standing in the way of saving Hyrule. After a very, very long battle, Link (with the help of Zelda and Midna) vanquished Ganon. Now with both evil entities destroyed, Midna could return to the Twilight Realm as the rightful ruler and Hyrule was saved from the embrace of darkness that had enveloped it. Link then took his horse Epona and set off from his hometown to explore the rest of the world.

Centuries passed as the Hylians attempted to form a peace with Ganondorf’s tribe, known as the Gerudo. This was in vain, as a new Ganondorf was born and thus dubbed the King of Darkness once more. However, this version was far more clever and sought to release the wind mage Vaati from his prison within the Four Swords. Sensing this outcome, Zelda called upon the six shrine maidens to rejuvenate the seal upon Vaati’s prison. Using this opportunity, Ganondorf attacked Zelda, forcing her hero Link to use the Four Swords magic to split into three other separate heroes. This caused Vaati’s seal to be broken and the wind mage to become free to terrorize the land once more.

With the six shrine maidens scattered, it was up to Link to rescue them and put an end to the dynamic duo’s plot envelop Hyrule in darkness. After this monumental task was complete, Link was able confront both Ganondorf and Vaati, where the three men did battle. This ended with Vaati being permanently killed and Ganondorf forever imprisoned within the Four Swords. The land of Hyrule was once again at peace and has since remained that way.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

The Hero is Victorious (Adult Era) and the Great Flood

(The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker)

legend of zelda, wind waker

The final of the three timelines follows Link after his victory against Ganondorf, however, he remained in his adult form. Several years after Ganon’s defeat and sealing within the Sacred Realm, the power of his magical prison began to diminish in strength despite the best efforts of the Sages. It didn’t take long until the King of Darkness was freed, and even though the people of Hyrule cried out for Link to save them, he never appeared. In a last ditch effort, the citizens prayed to the gods to save them. They agreed, but explained that everyone needed to take refuge on mountain tops. Soon enough, a massive wave of water flooded Hyrule, trapping Ganon and his forces under the sea.

As new civilizations were constructed for this watery world, Ganon eventually made his return and killed two sages that were attempting to empower the Master Sword once more. He then established a large base called the Forsaken Fortress, and used his army to seek out every young woman with pointed ears in hopes of finding Zelda’s descendant. In order to protect Zelda, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule used his magic to take control of a boat dubbed King of Red Lions, and went in search of a hero.

Around this time, a young boy named Link watched in horror as his sister Aryll was captured by one of Ganon’s monsters and taken to his fortress. Dawning the legendary green tunic, Link joined forces with a pirate captain named Tetra in order to save her. After sneaking his way into the prison, Link discovered Aryll — and Ganon, who tossed the young hero into the sea. He was then rescued by the King of Red Lions and informed that in order to save his sister, Link would need to obtain the Master Sword.

Zelda, boss, Ganon, Ganondorf, The Wind Waker

This was easier said than done, yet Link eventually accomplished the task only to find out that his weapon no longer held the power to repel evil. This wasn’t the only surprise, as the Red Lions also revealed both his identity and Tetra’s, who ended up being none other than Princess Zelda.

For him to truly stop Ganon, Link needed to awaken the Sage of Earth and Sage of Wind, who were able to restore this blade’s legendary power. Yet, he still needed more energy to kill Ganondorf, so Link sought out the Triforce of courage, which was split into eight parts and scattered across the sea. After finally acquiring both of these items, Link confronted Ganondorf, who had used his magic upon their meeting to unite the Triforce. Before he could use it, King Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule touched the Triforce and wished for the sea to wash away and allow for his people to return to their formally lost land. Ganondorf was obviously upset with this, and attacked Link only to have a sword driven into his skull, turning the Demon King into stone.

Link, Zelda, and his sister returned to the world while Daphnes sacrificed himself to the Great Sea in order to save his people. With Hyrule finally safe, Tetra and Link made their way out into the ocean to help others in need.

The Legend of Zelda Timeline Story & Lore, Explained

Boats, Trains, and an Uncertain Future

(The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hour Glass and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks)

The Legend of Zelda

In their adventures, Link and Tetra journeyed to the land of the Ocean King to investigate a ghost ship that had been lost at sea. Sadly, this was a trap that ended with Tetra captured and Link washed up on the shores of Mercay Island. It was here that he met the fairy Ciela and a captain named Lineback, the latter eventually agreeing to sail with Link in his journey to save Tetra. Along the way, both men rescued the Spirits of Power and Wisdom, only to learn that Ciela was in fact the Spirit of Wisdom. With this knowledge, Link returned to the Ghost Ship to discover that Tetra had been turned to stone via a powerful aquatic creature named Bellum.

To save Tetra, Link needed to forge the Phantom Sword via three Pure Metals that were scattered across the sea. Once this blade was created, Link confronted and killed Bellum, wherein Tetra was restored back to life. As a thanks, the Ocean King sent the two back in time to when their voyage began, making Link believe the entire event was simply a dream. Both decided to take on a new journey on a different continent that had a massive Tower of Spirits watch over the land.

Tetra established a new region in this land, using the magic spirit tracks to transport her soldiers from location to location. When Link and Tetra decided to finally investigate the mysterious Tower of Spirits, though, both were stopped by a man named Chancellor Cole, who revealed himself to be a demon intent on freeing the Demon King Malladus imprisoned under the spire. With the help of his associate Bryne, Cole separated Tetra’s body and spirit forms, taking the former and leaving the latter with Link.

Link and Tetra worked together to break the various barriers that protected the Tower of Spirits where Cole, Bryne, and Zelda’s body were hidden. Once this task was complete, Link confronted Cole right as Malladus was revived and brought back to the human world. Malladus was then swiftly killed, saving Tetra and their new land from the Demon King’s rule.

Now with the land of Hyrule and this new continent at peace, there have been no more incidents of Ganon or any malicious force. With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild now upon us, it will be curious to see where the journey takes our hero next. One thing is for certain,  there will always be a hero, a princess, and a villain. Seriously, though, the Hyrulians need to stop trusting any mages. Their track record for being peaceful is horrendous.

Sources include the official Hyrule Historia, The Legend of Zelda Official Timeline, and The Legend of Zelda Video Games

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