While I hardly think the lot of you are timeline newbies, I thought it might be interesting to have a source like this for reference purposes. I remember when I started theorizing--I felt overwhelmed by all this lingo that people were throwing back and forth because I wasn't sure what this "split timeline" business was, or what the "Seal War/Imprisoning War" was. So I made this.
Note that this is probably going to end up a work in progress, that will be added to and revised periodically. Ideally I'd ask for a sticky, but I'm not exactly a senior user on this board, so I'll settle with what I can get. I guess this could also be a general questions thread. Please post suggestions for changes/additions.A List of Commonly-Used AbbrevationsThe GamesALttP
: A Link to the PastAoL
: Adventure of LinkFS
: Four SwordsFSA
: Four Swords AdventuresKnS/AST
: Kobai no Sekiban/Ancient Stone TabletsLA
: Link’s AwakeningLoZ
: The Legend of Zelda (title)LOZ
: The Legend of Zelda (series)MM
: Majora’s MaskOoA
: Oracle of AgesOoS
: Oracle of SeasonsOoT
: Ocarina of TimeOoX
: Oracle SeriesPH
: Phantom HourglassTMC
: The Minish CapTP
: Twilight PrincessTWW
: The Wind WakerOther Series-Related AbbreviationsBS
: Double (Split) TimelineDTer
: Follower of the Double (Split) TimelineDW
: Dark WorldThe FS
: The Four SwordHoL
: Hero of LegendHoM
: Hero of MenHoT
: Hero of TimeHoW
: Hero of WindsKoRL
: King of Red LionsMS
: Master SwordThe OoA
: The Oracle of AgesThe OoS
: The Oracle of SeasonsThe OoT
: The Ocarina of TimeSR
: Sacred RealmST
: Single TimelineSTer
: Follower of the Single TimelineSW/IW
: Seal War/Imprisoning WarToC
: Triforce of CourageToP
: Triforce of PowerToT
: Temple of TimeToW
: Triforce of WisdomAffiliations and PersonsEA
: Eiji AonumaNinty
: Nintendo of AmericaNoE
: Nintendo of EuropeShiggy
: Shigeru MiyamotoGlossary of Timeline Vernacular ~ Getting to Know the Lingo
Over the course of the timeline debate, a plethora of terminology has surfaced to describe various facets of the games and the course of events through which they flow. Below are some of those terms, described in detail for the timeline layman:Adult Timeline
The “Adult Timeline” is one of the two timelines in typical “Split Timeline” theories. The Adult Timeline is the timeline that continues after the ending of OoT in which Link defeats Ganon as an adult. Almost all Adult Timelines include TWW, courtesy of Aonuma’s “Two Endings” quote, which the idea is based on.Backstory
“Backstory” consists of events referred to in a given game, but not actually witnessed in that game. Backstory is very important when determining timeline placement, because often backstories reference events from past titles. An example of a backstory would be the SW/IW with respect to ALttP, or the “Fierce War” with respect to OoT.Canon
“Canon” is the collective set of indisputable facts throughout the LOZ series. Through canon, timeline theorists can gather information with which to make assumptions or look at evidence to interpret in the hopes of creating a coherent timeline theory. The acceptable foundations of canon are called “Canonical Sources”. While the extent to which sources can be considered canonical varies among theorists, most theorists have accepted the following sources as canonical ones: “Story Text” within the official titles themselves, instruction manual story text, and, in the eyes of many—nay, most—“Creator Quotes”.Canonical Sources
The “Child Timeline” is one of the two timelines in typical “Split Timeline” theories. The Child Timeline is the timeline that starts at the ending of OoT in which Link is a child, and that always includes MM, courtesy of Aonuma’s “Two Endings” quote, which the idea is based on. Other games often included in Child Timelines are ALttP, FSA, and, more recently, TP.Creator Intent
See “Creator Quotes
“Creator Quotes” are statements made by the developers of the games about the storyline of the LOZ series that are released to the press. Infamous creator quotes include the “Two Endings” quotes and the “First Story” quote. The most common sources of such quotes are Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto, the two chief producers and directors of the LOZ series. Typically creator quotes stand as “Canon” unless there is a compelling argument made to disregard them, but theorists are encouraged to determine whether the developers are a good source of information for themselves.
For the reference of our dear readers, the most commonly used quotes in determining timeline placements, as well as the climate of their employment in debate, are supplied below:“First Story,” Eiji Aonuma (Game Informer)
“The GameBoy Advance Four Swords Zelda is what we’re thinking as the oldest tale in the Zelda timeline. With this one on the GameCube being a sequel to that, and taking place sometime after that.”
The “First Story” quote still stands, in many theorists’ eyes, as undeniable proof that FS (and TMC, as a consequence) is one of the first titles in the LOZ chronology, preceding even OoT. Those who oppose this idea draw from a number of sources, including many statements by EA throughout another interview that seem to discredit his opinion (see the “No Involvement” quotes). Coupling these other statements with strong suggestions within the storyline of FSA that it is a “Direct Sequel” to FS leads some theorists to discredit the “First Story” quote entirely.“No Involvement”, Eiji Aonuma (GameInformer)
“I actually wasn’t involved in the GameBoy Advance Four Swords game – that was before I became producer of the Zelda series.”
)“No Involvement”, Eiji Aonuma (NintendoWorld Report)
“In an example with Four Swords Adventures, I was the producer on that game, so I didn’t actually put the story for that game together—that would be put together by the director of the game. And in the end on that game, as we got closer to finishing it, of course, Mr. Miyamoto then came in and upended the tea table, and we changed the story around quite a bit at the end with Four Swords Adventures. And what Mr. Miyamoto pointed out in the case of that game was that the storyline shouldn’t be something complicated that confuses the player. It should really be kind of a guideline that helps ease the player through the gameplay process and helps them understand what it is that they’re doing. So that was one example of how the gameplay was there first, and the storyline changed all the way up until the very end.”
The “No Involvement” pair of quotes was gathered as a rebuttal to the widespread acceptance of the “First Story” quotes. The first quote is perhaps the more significant, because it establishes that Aonuma did not even have a part in the production of FS for the GameBoy Advance—why, then, would he even know where to place it to begin with? The common response was that his involvement with FSA would have required that he know the relationship between that game and FS, and so the second quote was uncovered to show that he did not have any real involvement in the formulation of the story of FSA at all, and therefore lacks yet another base necessary to maintain his credibility on the matter of FS at the time of the “First Story” quote.
Since Aonuma admits to not being involved with the storylines of either project, many theorists have elected to discredit the “First Story” quote outright.“Two Endings”, Eiji Aonuma and Shigeru Miyamoto (GamePro)
“EA: You can think of this game as taking place over a hundred years after Ocarina of Time. You can tell this from the opening story, and there are references to things from Ocarina located throughout the game as well.
Shiggy: Well, wait, which point does the hundred years start from?
EA: From the end.
Shiggy: No, I mean, as a child or as a...
EA: Oh, right, let me elaborate on that. Ocarina of Time basically has two endings of sorts; one has Link as a child and the other has him as an adult. This game, The Wind Waker, takes place a hundred years after the adult Link defeats Ganon at the end of Ocarina.
Shiggy: This is pretty confusing for us, too. (laughs) So be careful.”
)“Two Endings”, Eiji Aonuma (Nintendo Power)
“In terms of the storyline, we've decided that this takes place 100 years after the events in Ocarina of Time. We think that as you play through the game, you'll notice that in the beginning the storyline explains some of the events in Ocarina of Time. You'll also find hints of things from Ocarina of Time that exist in The Wind Waker. There's also a more complicated explanation. If you think back to the end of Ocarina of Time, there were two endings to that game in different time periods. First Link defeated Ganon as an adult, and then he actually went back to being a child. You could say that The Wind Waker takes place 100 years after the ending in which Link was an adult.”
Probably the most hotly-debated Creator Quotes in the series’ history, the “Two Endings” quotes are the primary basis for “Split Timeline” theories.
DTers interpret the “two endings” spoken of in the quotes as alternate endings, brought into play by Zelda’s use of time travel at the end of the game. According to the DT, the “Adult Ending”, the ending in which the HoT defeats Ganon, follows the storyline that leads into TWW. The “Child Ending”, on the other hand, in which Link returns to the past as a child, leads into MM, as well as its own separate sequence of events.
STers interpret the “two endings” as merely two different, coexisting conclusions, in two different “time periods”, the future and the past. In the future, the people are celebrating Link’s victory over Ganon; in the past, Link is a child again and free to live out his lost seven years. STers claim that Link’s return to the past changes nothing in the future, that Ganon will still rise to power and the HoT will still appear to fulfill the fate that Link has already carried out.
Neither interpretation has been demonstrated in any game. The DT’s interpretation effectively cannot be, since the two alternate endings don’t coexist for there to be evidence of one in the other. The ST’s interpretation can easily account for all of the titles, but no released title has positively confirmed it. The DT has the advantage of not needing to account for the events of MM with respect to Adult OoT—most DTers feel that the two contradict one another. The ST has the advantage of not leaving a plothole with respect to what becomes of Ganon in the Child Timeline.(NOTE: With respect to the last point, the DT often uses TP’s BS to explain Ganon’s fate in the Child Timeline. There is, however, no current canon outside of TP to corroborate this idea, only hypothetical Child Timeline scenarios.)Direct Sequel
A “Direct Sequel”, in the context of the LOZ series, goes beyond simply being the next game in the series timeline. A direct sequel features the same Link character from the previous installment. An example of a direct sequel is MM, which features Link from OoT.Double Timeline
See “Multiple Timeline
” or “Split Timeline
The “False Negative” is an ontological situation in which the “Lack-of-Evidence Argument” is used to define something, or rather, the lack of evidence for something, as a “negative”, or the nonexistence of said thing. A False Negative argument states that a lack of objective evidence does not constitute nonexistence, or, to put it another way, that a negative cannot be proven. Just because we do not know whether something did or did not happen does not discredit it from having happened at all.
OoT references a “fierce war in our world” that occurred before the king unified the country of Hyrule. During this war, Link was orphaned on the outskirts of the Lost Woods, resulting in his adoption by the Deku Tree as a Kokiri. OoT also implies that the Sheikah were thought to have died out during this war.
TP also references a “great battle” that erupted when word of the SR spread throughout Hyrule. The great battle is called the “prolonged wars” later, during which the Sheikah are also referenced as having been thought to have died out. Because of these similarities, for the purposes of this glossary, the two shall be thought of as one and the same.“First Story” Quote
See “Creator Quotes
The “Great Flood” is a term adopted by timeline theorists to describe the TWW BS, in which the kingdom of Hyrule is flooded by the gods in order to prevent Ganon from conquering it.Hero of Men
While never specifically conferred as a title, “Hero of Men” is commonly used to refer to the hero in the TMC BS.Hero of Time
The “Hero of Time” is the heroic title first mentioned in OoT, later referenced in TWW’s BS. In recent months, with TP’s release, a controversy erupted as to what exactly it means to be the HoT. Is the title limited to just OoT Link, or can it be extended to others as well?
A traditionalist view defines this title narrowly and says that only OoT Link can and will ever hold that title because of the role of time travel in his quest to save Hyrule. In light of events in TP, though, it is believed by some that he might be a HoT, having drawn the MS from the Pedestal of Time, which is a specific criteria for worthiness of the title. An even broader view proposes that any hero who wields the MS might be called a HoT, in light of this fact and TWW Link’s designation as the “Hero of Time, reborn” by Ganondorf in that game.
TP Link is presumed to use time travel in TP in order to access the ToT dungeon by traveling through the “Time Door” after manipulating the Pedestal of Time, further supporting the possibility that he might be considered a HoT. Since no other heroes, outside of those of OoT and TWW, have been specifically conferred such a title in existing canon, however, we may never know.Hero of Winds
“Hero of Winds” is the title given to TWW Link by the KoRL after it is discovered that he is, indeed, the true hero, thanks to his ability to assume the ToC into himself and the appearance of its crest on his left hand.Imprisoning War
See “Seal War
This term may sound familiar to those familiar with theological arguments. The “Lack-of-Evidence Argument” (LEA) is an ontological argument that states that (with respect to timeline debate) if one game leads into another—for example, if Adult OoT leads into TP—then there should be specific, positive, objective proof of that progression. One example of the LEA is a statement by those who place TP in a “Child Timeline”, which says that if TP came after Adult OoT, the HoT would be referenced by name.
When brought into discussion, the LEA is typically met with a counter-argument, the “False Negative” rebuttal.Multiple Timeline
Not to be confused with a “Split Timeline”, a “Multiple Timeline” is a timeline theory that features two or more timelines with absolutely no relation to one another. Multiple Timeline theories that feature only two timelines are often called “Double Timelines”. Many theorists place the Four Swords Saga in its own timeline, believing that those games are irreconcilable with the other titles. Some Double Timelines break up the series into one timeline for the 2D installments and another for the 3D ones.“No Involvement” Quotes
See “Creator Quotes
See “Fierce War
The “Seal War” (usually called the “Imprisoning War” by timeline newbies; often abbreviated “SW”)) is a tale that originated in the ALttP BS. It tells of a war that began because the evil thief Ganondorf stole the Triforce from the mystical Sacred Realm. The war ends with Ganon being sealed away by the seven sages. Because of its glaring similarities to the events of OoT, many theorists are compelled to name OoT as the game that features the SW.
An increasingly-large number of theorists, however, believe that the sequence of events between the SW and ALttP prevents this, because other games such as TWW or TP, both of which take place after OoT, both feature Ganon outside of the SR, and clearly not sealed. They usually claim that OoT’s events did not match those of the SW anyway, since certain aspects of the war, such as the Knights of Hyrule being exterminated, were never referenced specifically in OoT.
One of the most popular beliefs is that the SW is a different event, entirely separate from OoT, which allows it to fall before ALttP without dispute. Some try to reconcile OoT and the SW story by putting ALttP in a separate timeline that allows it to fall immediately after OoT. This was the most common belief held by DTers until the release of TP, which many decided to place in the “Child Timeline”, which was where many had placed ALttP as well.
Another much more radical solution to the OoT-SW problem is to take a roundabout approach to explaining the connection. While Ganon does indeed appear outside the SR in TP and TWW, the seals on the SR itself—the ones the sages cast initially to seal the evil power, which are the ones referenced in ALttP itself—may not necessarily have been breached. If this is the case, then the sages’ seal would still be in place, even if both TP and TWW are placed in between OoT and ALttP, and OoT-SW would still hold water in a timeline such as the ST.
In any scenario that does not place OoT and ALttP back-to-back, however, it must necessarily be assumed that the incarnation of Ganon that we see in ALttP rediscovered the entrance to the SR in an event entirely separate from any game that has been released thus far, which can be considered a universal plothole until answers on the matter are revealed to us.Single Timeline
A “Single Timeline” is a timeline theory in which there is a single, continuously flowing continuity, unbroken by schisms in time or alternate time realities. STs are sometimes referred to as “Unified Timelines”.Sleeping Zelda
The “Sleeping Zelda” story is told in the AoL BS. It relates to us the story of a prince who, when he did not inherit the Triforce in full from his father, as he had expected, approached his sister, Princess Zelda, and confronted her on the issue. When Zelda would not reveal to the prince where the rest of the Triforce was, a wizard cast a sleeping spell on Princess Zelda. The prince was stricken by grief, and so he brought Zelda to the North Castle and ordered that all ladies born into the royal family be named Zelda.
Since this would (and certainly seems to) explain why so many princesses throughout Hyrule’s history are named “Zelda”, some theorists say that the Sleeping Zelda story precedes all other stories, or that it features Zelda from OoT. Opponents of this idea argue that the state of the Triforce during the early part of the series prevents this from being possible, since the Sleeping Zelda story depends on a king of Hyrule ruling with the Triforce, which is obviously not the case in OoT.Split Timeline
A “Split Timeline” is a timeline theory in which there are two or more continuities of games, usually resulting from split realities theorized to have been created by time travel. Almost all Split Timelines involve the “two endings” of OoT, and propose that the ending in which Link defeats Ganon leads into one timeline, which usually follows the storyline of TWW, and the ending in which Link arrives back in the past leads into another, following the storyline of MM. Those who believe in this sort of timeline are sometimes referred to as “Splitists” or “DTers.”(NOTE: In some contexts, “Split Timeline” theories are sometimes called “Double Timeline” theories.)Splitist
A “Splitist” is a timeline theorist who follows the “Split Timeline”.Story Text
“Story Text” encompasses any item of text in any official LOZ title, or, more narrowly, any text directly related to the main plot of a title’s storyline or that must be encountered in a playthrough of a game that doesn’t involve sequence-breaking. Story text is considered to be canon.“Two Endings” Quotes
See “Creator Quotes
See “Single Timeline