- The Legend of Zelda franchise has a convoluted timeline with multiple branches, and the Child timeline that follows Ocarina of Time’s kid version of Link is one of the most interesting.
- Nintendo has stated that the Zelda timeline is flexible and can accommodate new titles, like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is set far into the future and offers a prequel opportunity.
- In the Child timeline, Majora’s Mask introduces a bizarre twist where Link is forced to prevent the moon from crashing into Termina, and there is a fan theory that this incarnation of Link dies and becomes the Hero’s Shade.
The Legend of Zelda franchise is infamous for having a somewhat convoluted timeline, with branching paths leading to different possible scenarios and subseries of games. There are four major sections of the timeline, which starts with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword before splitting into three other timelines after The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Out of all the potential directions the timeline can go after this split, the Child timeline that follows Ocarina of Time‘s kid version of Link is one of The Legend of Zelda series’ most interesting.
Although the Zelda timeline is official, Nintendo has stated that it is flexible and can account for new titles like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom being added to the series. For example, one of the three major branches is known as the Fallen Hero timeline, which accounts for the potential situation of Link being defeated in Ocarina of Time. However, the nature of Ocarina of Time‘s story creates a scenario where both adult Link and child Link timelines exist, one where Zelda sends Link back to when he was a kid at the game’s end and one that continues from that point with the Hero of Time having disappeared from the world.
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s Place on the Timeline Offers a Major Prequel Opportunity
With The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom set so far into the future, Nintendo could create a key prequel set during the timeline unification.
Understanding The Legend of Zelda’s Child Link Timeline
The Child timeline is the result of adult Link being sent back to the point where he was a child at the beginning of Ocarina of Time by Princess Zelda after Ganondorf is defeated in the game’s finale. At this point, Link is able to warn the King of Hyrule about the future where Ganondorf rises to power, preventing this grim outcome from occurring and eventually leading to Ganondorf being imprisoned in the Twilight Realm. Having prevented Ganondorf’s ascension, Link leaves Hyrule in search of his companion, Navi directly leading into the next game in the Child timeline.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Majora’s Mask is the first full game in the Child timeline, and it has a bizarre twist compared to the events of the previous game. After encountering the Skull Kid in the land of Termina, Link is forced to help the Happy Mask Salesman retrieve the mask stolen by the Skull Kid within three days to prevent the moon from crashing into Termina and destroying it. There is a notoriously dark fan theory that Link is dead during the events of this game, and while this is an unofficial theory, at some point following the events of Majora’s Mask it’s confirmed that this incarnation of Link dies and becomes the Hero’s Shade.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Having survived execution at the end of Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf is instead banished to the Twilight Realm, where he plots his return by emboldening the usurper Zant to oust Princess Midna from the throne. With Midna fleeing the Twilight Realm to the world of Hyrule, Zant invades with his army of Shadow Beasts in pursuit of Midna, who has joined forces with the descendant of the Hero of Time. This version of Link gains the strength and sword-fighting ability needed to wield the Master Sword by training with his ancestor, the Hero’s Shade, and together with Midna, defeats Zant and Ganondorf using the Master Sword to finally slay the Demon King.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
After Twilight Princess, there is a jump of a few hundred years in the timeline to where a new incarnation of Ganondorf has been reborn within the Gerudo. This Ganondorf sets out on a new conquest to take control of Hyrule, which prompts the current incarnation of Link to take the Four Sword in order to face this threat, splitting himself into four copies but releasing the demon sorcerer Vaati who is trapped inside. These four Links ultimately do battle against both Ganondorf and Vaati, resulting in Vaati’s demise and Ganondorf becoming sealed inside the Four Sword, concluding the current Child timeline.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
- May 12, 2023
- Rated E for Everyone 10+ for Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes
- How Long To Beat
- 59 Hours