All Legend of Zelda Games in Chronological Order

Table of Contents

The Legend of Zelda games have always had a theme from one game to another, sharing the main trio of protagonist, deuteragonist, and antagonist. They’re all set in Hyrule with varying degrees of differences between them, however one of the more confusing aspects to these games are their canonical chronology. To a newbie player, you might wonder which is the first (lore-wise) in the long list of games, but equally, you might be surprised to learn that one of the Zelda games is completely disconnected from another.

But fear not, we’ll clarify a bit of the confusion here.

Legend of Zelda Games Chronological Release

Here is the full list of Zelda games in order of release – this does not affect their placement in the timeline.

  • The Legend of Zelda (1986)
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (1987)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1991)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (1993)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages (2001)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (2004)
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (2004)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (2007)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (2009)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (2013)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Trinity Force Heroes (2015)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)

The Legend of Zelda Timeline(s)

Although the fantastic folks over at Polygon wrote a highly in-depth analysis of the confusing Zelda timeline, we’ve essentially summarised it as best we can.

Graphic: Jeffrey Parkin/Polygon

The first part is easy to follow, the Goddesses make the world and thus we begin the Legend of Zelda in Skyward Sword. The Link from Skyward Sword – ‘Hero of the Sky’ eventually passes on, but he is reincarnated in the Link in Minish Cap. Just as Link, Zelda and Ganondorf also reincarnate throughout the games. Only when we reach Ocarina of Time do things start to get confusing.

The Canon Ending (Child Timeline)

After you beat Ganon in Ocarina of Time, adult Link is sent back in time to his childhood as if the events of Ocarina of Time never happened. He gets to live his childhood life when Navi flies off into the woods and Link follows her leading to the events of Majora’s Mask.

After this, it is believed he does escape Terminus and eventually settles with Marin which eventually leads into the descendant Link who grows on to become the Hero of Twilight from Twilight Princess.

Four Swords is mostly disconnected from the two previous iterations, but it still follows this timeline. Eventually, ten thousand years later we reach Breath of the Wild.

The ‘Bad’ Ending (Fallen Hero Timeline)

This timeline is based on the event that Link died during his battle with Ganon in the finale of Ocarina of Time. In this timeline, Ganon gets all three pieces of the Triforce and becomes a highly powerful demon, and without a Hero – the Goddesses intervene and seal him away in the Sacred Realm.

This results in the Link to the Past where cultists are trying to break Ganon out of his imprisonment. This continues throughout this timeline, various people want to free Ganon from his prison and release him back to the world.

The very first Legend of Zelda and its sequel happen here, but not many crazy lore-shaking events happen in this timeline.

Just as the previous timeline does, this one also reconvenes into the new Age of Calamity timeline where Breath of the Wild happens.

The Sad Ending (Adult Timeline)

In this timeline, Zelda still sends the Link from Ocarina of Time to the past. But her current timeline continues to exist, except now it doesn’t have a Hero.

Eventually, Ganon returns, and the Goddesses have to flood all of Hyrule – resulting in Wind Waker. The Hero of Wind is the same Hero in all three of the Adult timeline games. During this timeline, eventually – after ten thousand years – Hyrule is no longer a flooded Waterworld and becomes the world we’re familiar with in Breath of the Wild.

Age of Calamity

This is the new timeline, and this is where we’re currently at with the latest addition to the Zelda franchise. But you might have a few questions, we’ll quickfire through the most commonly asked ones:

Yes! The Hero of the Wilds is the same in Tears of the Kingdom, the same goes for Zelda and Ganon.

Is this the end of the Zelda timeline?

It’s a hard thing to say, but many fan theorists think it’s both the end and the beginning! Based only on scenes in the trailer, people think it’s possible that the land rising into the skies could be the making of the Sky Cities that are where we begin our adventures in Skyward Sword. Making the whole franchise one great big-time loop. It’s been done before, so we can’t be too surprised.

Is Ganon back?

No! Ganon and Ganondorf are different people. In fact, Ganondorf was never even in Breath of the Wild at all. The pig demon is Ganon and the man is Ganondorf, and Ganon was blown up at the end of Breath of the Wild, leading to a very angry Ganondorf buried deep underground becoming the new game’s antagonist (we assume).

Is this the same Ganondorf as previous games?

We have genuinely no idea as of now. We don’t think it is though based on looks alone, but this might change as we get to play through the story ourselves.

Final Words

Well there you have it, if you want a more in-depth look into the timeline then Polygon has a brilliant feature on it as well as some very long Zelda video essays, but we hope this has cleared some things up!

However, this wonderful video here will tell you exactly where Link’s Crossbow Training fits into the timeline.

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