Thoughts on the Zelda Timeline

The Legend of Zelda is a long-running series. There are tons of titles spread across many different systems. It’s also no secret that I love this franchise dearly, as do many others. However, the idea of a Zelda timeline is something that bothers me too much to ignore. I’d like to take a few moments of your time explaining why I think the concept is a little silly.

For starters, I want to point out that the timeline used to be just a theory. It was an arbitrary placement of the Zelda games into a chronological order using contextual clues from the available games and filling in the blanks with made up lore. It was a fan project. It was a way to give fans a reason to replay games and pay close attention to all kinds of details. It was a new way to experience the games. And as a fun fan project, it was interesting. However, it caused a lot of discussion and debate. It was a hot topic. So why not capitalize on the situation?

This is when we see Nintendo finally step in and decide to officially release what they thought was the timeline. This is a problem. No longer could fans stand on equal ground to passionately discuss, debate, and research this theory because it was no longer a theory. The official source of the games, Nintendo, had put out their definitive decision on the matter. This trumps anything a mere fan could ever propose. They took the magic out of the endeavor. Not to mention being able to grab some press while doing so. But fans could still oppose this idea and make their own timelines all the same, so what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that Nintendo never intended for there to be a timeline in the first place. Most of the Zelda games that were released were sold as separate adventures related mainly in name. It was never a series of continuous events, nor was it ever presented as being one giant timeline. Honestly, part of the beauty of the Zelda formula was that each game could be treated like a legend; a story passed down from generation to generation, place to place, person to person. It changes with each iteration as any ancient story might over the years, but it still holds commonalities like Link, Zelda, Ganon, and the Triforce. As such, the games never had to be completely different nor entirely the same. They didn’t even have to follow some loose, over-arcing storyline. They are all different tellings of the same legend. What a perfect idea for making a video game series! Why would they throw that away!?

So that’s really my gripe. You can still play each game as its own contained adventure, and you can still participate in creating timelines, but is the timeline really necessary? Does everything need to be a connected story? Does it matter what Link saved Hyrule in what time for which Princess Zelda? It’s just a fan thing, and it’s not worth getting upset about. I know. I just can’t help but feel that the amount of importance on the timeline has been raised to an unhelpful level. I certainly won’t let it keep me from playing future Zelda games, but I really wish it had just stayed a purely fan-centric exercise in creativity and love of the series. What are YOUR thoughts on the timeline? Where would you place each of the games in your timeline and why? I’m still interested in the theory now and then, but don’t be offended if it doesn’t enhance my Zelda experience in any way. If nothing else, I hope you enjoyed thinking about it. Thank you for reading. See you next time.

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