Zelda Breath of the Wild Timeline Placement

Zelda Timeline

The new Legend of Zelda has finally been given a proper reveal to the world and we now have over four hours worth of gameplay ranging from little snippets to what makes up the beginning of the game. In this time we have seen various elements of the game that seem to call back to all the previous Zelda titles. Wind Waker’s Korok race has been confirmed to appear, the old Men from the first Zelda are here, the Goddess Hylia of Skyward Sword is mentioned a ton and the old symbol of Hyrule, the wings without the Triforce, appears to be used instead of the one found in Minish Cap onwards. There are so many conflicting elements here that is going to make any Zelda timeline theorist wondering ‘where does it all fit in?’ Well, today I thought would try and give my thoughts on this latest games place in the timeline.

There was a lot of talk from initial teasers about this game being set just after Skyward Sword or just after Majora’s Mask. I think now we can safely say that these cannot be the case. The reason for this is the land itself which in all-essence is another post-apocalypse Zelda world, just like the Wind Waker. This is obvious, not only from looking at the state of known places like the Temple of Time but even from the words of the old man NPC himself:


“According to legend, this is the birthplace of the entire kingdom of Hyrule.”

“Since the decline of the kingdom, it now sits abandoned, in a state of decay.”

The fact that Hyrule is now just a legend and is decaying proves that this game must be set at the end of the timeline. More proof of this is the state of certain objects, specifically the Master Sword that was shown at the end of the initial trailer and in the title card. The sword is covered in rust and looks like it is about to snap. Meanwhile other structures are just covered in vines and moss, implying they have been there for a long time.

The most definitive piece of evidence for me though is the location of the Master Sword itself. The three places where the Master Sword currently rests are in the head of Ganondorf under the ocean (Adult timeline, after the events of Wind Waker), in the ruins of the Temple of Time (Child timeline, Twilight Princess) and in the Lost Woods, resting forever! (Fallen timeline, A Link Between Worlds). In this game, the Master Sword is definitely in the woods and not Ganondorf’s head so that cuts out the Child Timeline. Next, we see the Temple of Time which does not look as grand as it it did in Twilight Princess but instead how it appeared in Ocarina of Time. With no Master Sword in sight at this temple that also seems to cut off the Child Timeline which seems to place the game at the end of the Fallen timeline. Finally, we have a sequel to Zelda II: the Adventure of Link!

After all these years it is still the black sheep.

So before I go into how this works story wise, I want to address those people who will disagree with me because of all the previous stuff I mentioned in the introduction to this article. In regards to the Goddess Hylia and the old Symbol of Hyrule there is no reason to think those have not stuck around. Just because it was not mentioned in other previous games does not mean it no longer exists in lore. It also needs to be noted that it is the Monks in the shrines that show all of this and they are Sheikah who have been in stasis for a long time. The Sheikah are the retainers of Hylia and so they would revere her over the other goddesses.

In regards to elements like the Korok and Bridge of Eldin I see no reason to think these would not exist outside of their original timelines. The Koroks are the evolved form of the Kokiri which formed hundreds of years after Ocarina of Time. While they only appeared in the Wind Waker, the Kokiri have not appeared at all in any timeline after Ocarina of Time. There is no reason to think that the Great Sea is the reason why they evolved this way like with the Zora and Rito. The Bridge of Eldin could easily have been built even as early as Ocarina of Time; we just never go to that area on the other side of Death Mountain in that game! So, I do not feel that any of these elements mean it cannot be in the Fallen Timeline.

“Well about that…”

In the after-math of the first Legend of Zelda game all the denizens of Hyrule left the old lands and moved North to a new continent. This would mean abandoning the old Hyrule Castle, Temple of Time and other notable landmarks from previous games. What if this is the calamity that is referenced. While Ganon seemingly died at the end of Zelda 1, what if instead he was sealed. In current Zelda lore the Master Sword is required to defeat Ganon and the hero of Zelda 1 never used it. The last game to have you fight Ganon without the Master Sword was Four Swords Adventures where he was actually sealed away and not killed. I can see a retcon incoming, much like smaller retcons that future games have made to A Link to the Past, where Ganon was sealed by Link rather than killed at the end of Zelda 1, but at some point after Zelda II he managed to partially break free and his essence killed the land. Now you are a new Link, years after Zelda II who seems to have been brought forth to defeat Ganon once again.

Lastly, I wanted to bring up the old man who appears quite prominently throughout Breath of the Wild. A lot of people have seen his appearance and connected him to King Daphnes a.k.a. the King of Red Lions from Wind Waker due to some of his comments on being a strange old man, his apparent separation from civilization and some of his general appearance. Thanks to this, a lot of people are claiming it to be definitive proof that this game must be a sequel to Wind Waker however I have an alternative theory on the matter. What if the Old Man is not actually King Daphnes but Ganondorf. This idea originally came to my mind after talking with contributor ConnorEatsPants after he made that same comment on twitter after the Old Man’s reveal. We got to talking, along with other members of the Source Gaming team, and I came up with a theory.

oldman__large Daphnes_(Hyrule_Warriors)

The old man calls Ganon the ‘calamity Ganon’ in this game which is a moniker we have never heard before for the evil beast. What if Ganondorf had his Ganon form along with all his power separated from his body and sealed away in Hyrule Castle. For the last 100 years, Ganondorf has spent his time wondering around the deserted Hyrule, trying to find a way to get his power back but keeps failing. It is over this time that he has learnt all the survival tips that he is shown giving Link in the demo, including giving Link his clothes. These same clothes are the ones that, many have pointed out since the very first trailer, bear patterns resembling the Guerodo’s clothes and the clothes worn by Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. The Old Man’s height also matches that of Ganondorfs when compared next to Link and the big white beard that many use to claim it is Daphnes would work for Ganondorf as well. He is no stranger to beards and 100 years have passed so his hair would have definitely gotten white by this point. I could see Ganondorf using Link to undo the seal on his power so that he can swoop in at the end and reabsorb it all, becoming the yooung, youthful and powerful Ganondorf we all know from other games. This theory is also one that fits the Fallen timeline more than any other as it is the only timeline where we have not seen Ganondorf the man actually die.

On a final note for my conclusion, this game very clearly takes inspiration from the original Zelda. From recreating the original artwork, using the old Zelda font in the Japanese logo, the reappearance of an Old Man character and a focus in development on going back to the basics of Zelda. The game with the closest connection to this game from a development side of the one that started it all, so giving the game a close connection story and lore wise just seems to obvious to me.

I know the Zelda timeline is a hot topic for the majority of Zelda fans but I hope that my theory makes sense to all of you. I have heard some other theories that place this game in other Timelines but, for now, this will be my headcanon. However I want to know what you all think. Does this sound logical to you all? Is the even a story you want to see? Is there any evidence that I missed that you feel would add to my argument or do you actually feel like I am wrong and have evidence to argue against me? I would love to hear it! Until them I am going to keep salivating over this game and I hope we get some more information sooner rather than later. I do not think I could deal with another hiatus after all of this.


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  1. I like this theory. The Koroks and Bridge of Eldin existing in other timelines isn’t too hard to wrap your head around either. The old man seems to be a mystery still, going from two extremes from being either Ganon or Daphnes, that’s pretty impressive. xD I hope there’s a lot of lore waiting to be found and not just a few vague hints in the final product!

  2. “These same clothes are the ones that, many have pointed out since the very first trailer, bear patterns resembling the Guerodo’s clothes and the clothes worn by Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time.”

    I don’t remember there being any Guerodo people. There are the Gerudo, though.

  3. I agree with a lot of this, particularly the “It’s not in the Wind Waker timeline” part. In that timeline, the Hyrule of the gods is gone. The only Hyrule that’s in that one is New Hyrule which is pretty much just in name only and has nothing to really do with the old days. There’s also the fact that the Temple of Time exists, and I’m sure remnants of other buildings will be scattered around. The only thing going for it is the Koroks, which could easily exist in another timeline, and I highly doubt they managed to plant an entirely new Hyrule as massive as that. The fact that the land has a rich history goes against that too. I do think it’s more likely to be the Downfall Timeline the most, as that I feel is appropriate for the setting. (and with how this is a massive allusion to Zelda 1, why wouldn’t they return it back to the original timeline?) But I’m not ruling out Child Timeline yet. It’s not the Bridge of Eldin that makes me think it could be post-TP, but rather, the strong presence of the Sheikah, which have never really been a thing at all in the Downfall. There’s a lot of evidence for either one, though.

    One thing I massively disagree with is all the theories people come up with for the old man. I do not think he is the king from Wind Waker. I don’t think he’s Ganon either. You know what I think he is? AN OLD MAN. Like, this one: https://objects-us-west-1.dream.io/secrettoeverybody/images/takethis.png I mean, c’mon, they’ve blatantly said this game is meant to be like Zelda 1. And the nameless Old Man is one of the most iconic things in Zelda 1. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, folks.

  4. I like this theory and it certainly seem plausible, but its not quite enough to overwrite my current head-canon.

    I’m personally partial to the theory that this game falls after Wind Waker in an un-flooded Hyrule. All the stuff about Hyrule being a kingdom that went through a decline which currently sits in a state of decay still works with this premise.

    I was always under the impression that the Korok did indeed evolve as a result of the Great Sea. The Great Deku Tree states “Once upon a time, long ago, the Koroks took on human forms, but when they came to live on the sea, they took these shapes.” I image the reason for this transformation is much the same as that of the Rito. The Korok are able to fly while the Kokiri cannot, and flight is essential for traversing the great sea safely. Every Korok shown in BotW thus far also matches a Korok from WW to a tee, though that could just be a case of recurring NPCs across timelines.

    Then there’s this screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/qxEqTpD.png
    It strongly implies that the Hyrule Link explores in this game was once submerged in an “ancient sea”. The world of BotW also has an emphasis on high points, mountain tops and the like. These serve to give Link good viewpoints to take in his surroundings, but can also be seen a slight connection to WW’s world in which the islands of the Great Sea were made up of Hyrule’s highest peaks.

    The Old Man = Daphnes is something I’m really buying into. The hairline on their beards looks really similar, and the fact the so much of the old man is covered makes me think that they might be trying to hide something about his appearance. Every other game to feature the “Old Man” character has also featured multiple advice giving old men, while BotW thus far just features a single one prominently, differentiating him from the old men of Zelda 1.

    As for the Master Sword, yea as far as we know it should be stuck in Ganondorf’s head during this timeline. However, I don’t think we can discount the possibility that something happened to it between the end of Wind Waker and the start of BotW. BotW starts will Link waking up after 100 years. This basically confirms to me that something noteworthy happened around 100 years ago. Aonuma stated it was possible to beat the game without learning why Link was put to sleep in the first place, this means there is some plot related reason he was put in stasis. Clearly there was stuff happening before the game proper starts, and at this point what that stuff could be is anyone guess. Some event resulting in Ganon being freed by removing the Master Sword certainly seems possible.

    Its also entirely possible all these hints are actually meaningless and the game’s placement in the timeline will be a complete afterthought on the part of the dev team. I want to believe the release of Hyrule Historia and the acknowledgment of an official timeline means they’ll be making more of an effort to coherently tie these games together from now on, but who knows. At the end of the day its still fun to theorize about the timeline irregardless of how much the dev team actually cares about it.

  5. I personally believe that BotW takes place at the end of the Adult Timeline. Plenty of references to suggest this, such as the rusted Master Sword and the mention of an ancient sea (http://i.imgur.com/qxEqTpD.png). The biggest reference of course being the Koroks. While I agree that the Kokiri could’ve just evolved into the Koroks in another timeline, the problem I have with that here is the fact that in every 3D Zelda game with its own art style objects and characters have their own unique look and style as well. The Koroks in this game are unmistakably identical to the ones seen in Wind Waker, which is both unprecedented and tells me that the developers really want me to identify them with being from that specific game. I feel as if the developers would’ve redesigned them at least a little if this game were to take place in another timeline. That being said, the developers could still redesign them for the full release, but considering the game is pretty much done as of now I doubt they’re going to do that.

    There are other things in BotW that seem to bring up even further connections to WW. HMK brought to my attention in his theory video he made last month that Sheikah design elements and technology seen in BotW bear a resemblance to the Tower of the Gods in WW. (http://i.imgur.com/TqZVOLP.png) (http://i.imgur.com/KKhtLvP.png?1) Here’s a link to his video if you’re interested in what he has to say about it (https://youtu.be/DYuBKN63AWg). When asked about the timeline placement, Aonuma reportedly gives us a hint by pointing to the Sheikah symbol on his shirt. As far as I’m aware, this is the only time we’ve seen these specific patterns and designs that are used in BotW, which might be the reason Aonuma pointed to the Sheikah symbol on his shirt. He wanted us to look at the patterns and find the WW connection.
    Not to mention that the enemy designs look like they could’ve been designed for WW, and the cel shading is also reminiscent of WW. Zeltik may have even found another small WW reference in his analysis and breakdown of the trailer (https://youtu.be/g-OPBwV6ueM?t=1m40s).

    My theory as to what we might be seeing here is the Hyrule that was flooded to hide it after the flood receded due to the Koroks accomplishing their task of drying it up. We don’t know much about what Hyrule was like post OoT and before WW. Maybe the Sheikah somehow had a larger role in Hyrule’s development right before the flood. You have to admit it’s interesting how the Tower of the Gods rises up from the ocean, and similarly the Towers of Resurrection rise up from the ground here. Perhaps a lot more stuff happened in Hyrule’s history after OoT and before WW than we realize, and the decision to flood Hyrule was only partly due to sealing Ganondorf but also to cover up some unwanted history…

    The last thing I want to bring up is that while I disagree that BotW is going to be a reboot to the franchise, I do think in a way it’s meant to be a retelling of the original NES Zelda. I don’t think it’s going to replace the original though. Instead I think the developers are going for a similar telling of a Hyrule in a desolate and declining state, but at the end of another timeline parallel to the end of the Downfall Timeline. It’ll follow similar beats such as meeting the Old Man at the beginning of the game and being open world and such, but have a completely updated story of its own. So it’s kind of like no matter the outcome of OoT, whether the Hero of Time was defeated or prevailed, Hyrule was always destined to undergo a declining era by the end of either the Downfall or Adult Timeline. I feel as if that’s the thematic element the developers are going for with this one.

    Of course this is still all just my own speculation and could change once we learn more information, but the way I understand it as of now I think this is going to be a sequel to WW/ST. Of course because it’s a sequel I think things like Calamity Ganon, the placement of the Master Sword, the big Sheikah presence, and why this Link wakes up in the Shrine of Resurrection will be explained through backstory with possible subtle connections to WW.

  6. I think I had considered something similar in regards to Ganondorf and Ganon being separated. Though I never considered him being the old man. Of course it might be neat if someone else is actually responsible for the destruction by using a stolen Triforce of Power.

    Really, Ganondorf seems to want to rule rather than destroy. Yes, Castle Town was in ruins under his reign, but he didn’t destroy Kakarito so it could have been destroyed in the battle to take the castle. He is ruthless when challenged or wants something someone else has, but he even wanted to restore Hyrule in Wind Waker (so he could rule it himself, but hey).

  7. Good theory article!

    I do have some thoughts about the timeline of this game. When I first saw that Eldin Bridge, I thought it may take place after Twilight Princess. But since you explained where the Master Sword is sealed, I think that proved me wrong. However, I never played Twilight Princess before so I really don’t know where the Master Sword really sealed, so I really can’t say anything about this. Another is that, rather than following the timeline, since the views do look similar to the very first Zelda game from the NES, I thought it may be the remake of that game, or since there are few things that has been “rebooted”, maybe this might be a reboot of it too. But I thought that won’t be necessary because there’s no reason to reboot this series in any form; it’s already perfect from the beginning.

    But, you maybe right that it may take place in the Fallen Timeline. Since we’ve been recently having many Zelda games that takes place in the Fallen Timeline starting from Link Between Worlds, I think BotW may take place after LBW (or Triforce Heroes since that’s after LBW events). BotW have the similar worldview Zelda 1 as Hyrule became a deserted kingdom, so it may make sense that BotW may take place before Zelda 1. I wouldn’t think it’s after Zelda 2 since they officially announced that Zelda 2 is the LAST game of the series, or simply improve it as being the “ending point of the Fallen Timeline”.

    Another thought I have is the Master Sword in BotW. We’ve already know that the sword’s appearance has became rusted and chunky, and it’s not odd when the sword will break apart. Would this mean that this game will be the last of the Master Sword? Will the Master Sword end it’s role as it’ll shatter into pieces after the end of the game? If so, that’ll explain why the sword never appeared in Zelda 1 and 2. If that’s the case, maybe this game will take place before Zelda 1.

    I don’t know about the old man being Ganondorf. He does look like him except for having a beard that closely resembles to King Daphnes, but I mean, I’m sorry if I’m wrong, but wasn’t his humanoid body gets destroyed after he ultimately turned and stayed being the pig monster in the Fallen Timeline? I really don’t think there’s a possibility or some way that both Ganondorf and Ganon can separate from each other, which I don’t even know if that’s even possible either. I got some thoughts that the old man can be somebody who we don’t even know. Maybe he can be the somebody from the Gerudo tribe, who knows more about Ganon. Not to mention male Gerudos do get born every 100 years, and since this game takes place like 100 years each, I guess that may be possible that he’s a Gerudo man from the good side. Another is that Shiekah tribe symbols do get involved many times in this game, and maybe he can be someone from that tribe disguising himself as the old man. Not to mention Zelda obtained the ability to transform into Shiek back in OoT, which it isn’t just a simple normal disguise, which might change it’s sex gender as well. Now I’m not saying that the old guy is Zelda in disguise (and I’d be shocked dead if that’s true), but it maybe a Shiekah tribe in disguise, or simply an old veteran tribe without disguising.

    Now to let you know, I’m not really a Zelda fan as I hardly played the series before and hardly have any knowledge about it, so it’s okay for anybody to deny on me as I may be ultimately wrong. But making these theories and sharing them is really fun to do, so I won’t be shamed or upset if I was wrong about it. Furthermore, this game is really interesting as there’s lots of things to do that freely than the previous games. I don’t know if I wanna play it, but I’m looking forward for the game to be released.

  8. I think it takes place right after the timelinesplit in SwS.
    Rember when Link killed Demise in the PAST and went then BACK to the future? Skyloft is still in the air in the past.
    It would make very much sense for Nintendo to reboot the Zelda series right after SwS…

  9. This theory is absolutely fascinating, but I’m one of those Zelda players who just takes each game as-is and doesn’t worry about the grand timeline, so maybe the idea doesn’t have as much of an effect on me as it should.

  10. I love how th author just throws everything out about the other games, and makes excuses for why things like the bridge of eldin or hylia don’t exist…great job

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