Cycle of Rebirth

When the games were originally released, the timeline seemed fairly obvious for fans that wanted to impose an order on the games. Zelda II was a direct sequel to Legend of Zelda, and A Link to the Past (ALTTP) is a prequel to both of these. Link's Awakening must come after ALTTP since Link is already a hero prior to the start of the game (as mentioned in the instruction manual). Once Ocarina of Time (OOT) came out, it was clear that the game came before those already released because it sets up the events before the Imprisoning War, events that occurred in ALTTP.

These games follow the history of Hyrule. However, things became super confusing when Majora's Mask was released. This game also comes after OOT because it's the continuation of the young Hero of Time's story, but it was unclear how this fit in with ALTTP. Other future releases like Twilight Princess and Wind Waker were also sequels to OOT, but they do not mention ALTTP so a lot of confusion surrounded these games and where they fit on the timeline. In 2011, an official collector's book, Hyrule Historia, was released, and an official timeline was revealed. This introduced three timeline splits following the events of OOT, branching off into "The Hero is Defeated" and "The Hero is Triumphant" which further separates into the "Child" and "Adult" eras.

I'll be honest: I love the timeline and the idea of imposing a long chronology to the history Hyrule. The series has an incredible setting with a fascinating backstory, but I do understand that it is fictional which means that Nintendo can change it at a moment's notice and retcon in material to make things fit better. I also don't really like the inclusion of games where there's multiple playable Links such as the Four Sword games and Triforce Heroes. I accept them and their placements though since they're officially added. Since the timeline can become a confusing mess, I will provide a brief overview, but I am going to only focus on the Child Timeline and provide a little information about why the split occurs.

For an easier understanding about the information written in this section, I have uploaded an updated timeline (courtesy of Reddit) which you can open and reference here.

It is important to remember that this section has been written before the release of Breath of the Wild in March 2017 and will not reflect any relevant information about the Hero of Time if any is introduced. Remember, that this speculation is purely for fun, and I do not appreciate timeline wars.

This section will cover: