Alex from ZeldaInformer, sent over this great new Zelda Timeline piece he wrote:
The Legend of Zelda has a rich history, full of wars between factions, the rise and fall of kingdoms, and the emergence of heroes to battle against the demons that plague the world. For many years, Hyrule scholars have pored into the stories that make up this grand body of works, trying to unravel its mysteries. Among these mysteries, foremost is that Supreme Question: how do these stories link together, and in what order do they fall chronologically?
One of the biggest challenges theorists have faced is how best to include all the stories in the bigger picture of the Hyrule universe without contradictions. The most notable problem is the multitude of stories that appear to be sequels to Ocarina of Time. Though the creators have demonstrated that two alternate histories stem from the ending of Ocarina, the fact still remains that A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess all portray Ganon’s exploits following his sealing by the sages. That’s three different stories, with only two different possible histories – one that leads into Wind Waker while the other leads into Twilight Princess. Mathematically speaking it just doesn’t add up.
People have devised their own ways around this problem. Some say Ocarina’s legends were simply confused with the events of a later story, such as Four Swords Adventures, rather than serving as A Link to the Past’s immediate backdrop; others proclaim that A Link to the Past is no longer supposed to be Ocarina’s sequel at all. These answers have always left a bittersweet taste in some theorists’ mouths, however, myself among them.
So what is there to do with cases such as this? Perhaps the answer has been painfully obvious all along. The series is called “The ‘Legend’ of Zelda” – might they be simply that, a series of mythic tales set in the Hyrule universe, not necessarily a literal account of Hyrule’s history? When comparing the chronology of Hyrule to that of other bodies of legends, namely mythologies such as those belonging to the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and so forth, we see that contradictions are commonplace among ancient lore. Nonetheless, each of these stories attempts to fit itself at some point in the grand scheme of a greater mythical tradition.
With this framework as a starting point, I set out to decipher Hyrule’s history in much the same way. Discarding the traditional historical approach to theorizing was a challenge, but the fruits of the effort have certainly paid off. The first step was to line out all the official chronological placements of stories, from the original all the way to Spirit Tracks.
The Classic Timeline: