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The Entire Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Timeline Explained

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" expands on the open world and narrative Nintendo established in "Breath of the Wild." Players have more places to explore than ever thanks to the addition of sky islands, an abundance of caves, and the Depths. Familiar locations have also received a fresh coat of paint, incorporating new problems for the implacable Link to solve.

While the exact figure remains unclear, "Tears of the Kingdom" seems to unfold a few years after "Breath of the Wild." Hyrule has begun to recover from the return and eventual defeat of Calamity Ganon and his forces. By this point, Princess Zelda has peppered the countryside with building materials to help her people in the restoration process. Unfortunately, the kingdom's peace turns out to be short-lived due to the emergence of a strange, life-draining substance known as Gloom.

Much like when "Tears of the Kingdom" takes place, the placement of the sequel and its predecessor within the greater "Zelda" timeline continues to elude fans. Nintendo has shared that it takes place thousands of years after all of the other canon games, though it didn't specify which branch of the timeline (Adult, Child, or Fallen Hero) it falls under. To make matters even more confusing, "Tears of the Kingdom" incorporates time travel as one of its key plot devices. So, how do the events of the follow-up fit together?

An ancient threat uncovered

In the opening sequence of "Tears of the Kingdom," Link and Princess Zelda venture deep within the caverns beneath Hyrule Castle in search of answers for the origin of the spreading Gloom. They uncover ruins linked to the Zonai, a powerful prehistoric tribe, during this exploration. Members of this civilization left behind murals showing the arrival of the Zonai following their descent from their home in the sky, along with a massive conflict with a figure identified as the Demon King.

After delving further into the ruins, the royal and her protector encounter the desiccated remains of Ganondorf held in place by a glowing arm. This sealing ritual fails when they draw closer, though Zelda gains a magical, tear-shaped stone in the process. Unfortunately, before she can learn more about the artifact, Ganondorf reanimates.

The villain strikes out at Link, injuring him in the process and breaking the Master Sword. He then uses his power to lift Hyrule Castle high into the air. Zelda plummets into a cavern, though she unwittingly activates her own power to save herself from certain death. Meanwhile, the arm from earlier stops Link from meeting his own end. From here, "Tears of the Kingdom" splits between two timelines. One follows Link, while the other centers on Princess Zelda.

Hyrule in its infancy

After freeing Ganondorf, Princess Zelda traveled back in time to the early days of Hyrule, where she met the kingdom's founders: a Zonai named Rauru and a Hylian woman named Sonia. The Master Sword later joins her in this period. By that point, all of the other Zonai had returned to the sky, leaving only Rauru and his sister, Mineru, on the surface. A descendant of King Rauru and Queen Sonia, Zelda learned that she possesses both light and time powers and that the gem she found at the ritual site is actually a magical amplifier called a Secret Stone.

While in ancient Hyrule, Zelda got caught up in an event known as the Imprisoning War. During this period, Ganondorf attempted to seize control of Hyrule using an army composed of monsters and Gerudo. With the help of Sonia and Zelda, Rauru defeated the would-be usurper with his magic. Realizing the power of the Secret Stones, Ganondorf pretended to concede defeat while plotting to get his hands on one of the artifacts.

The Imprisoning War and setting up Ganondorf's defeat

Ganondorf eventually seized his chance by assassinating Queen Sonia and taking her Secret Stone for himself. He used the potent object to transform into his Demon King form before wreaking havoc on the land. Still grieving over the loss of his wife, Rauru responded to the threat by assembling the Six Sages, all of whom utilized their own Secret Stones. Even with their powers amplified, they couldn't defeat their enemy. Ultimately, Rauru sacrificed his life to seal Ganondorf away, leaving only his arm behind to hold the Demon King in place. During this time, Mineru also transferred her spirit into Zelda's Purah Pad.

With the threat temporarily subdued, Zelda realized that she had her own sacrifice to make. After arranging for the other Sages and their descendants to help Link fight Ganondorf in the future, the princess underwent a process called dragonification. By swallowing her Secret Stone, she turned into an eternal dragon. This allowed her to live long enough to return to her own time while repairing and empowering the Master Sword by bathing it in the light contained within her draconic body for multiple millennia.

The aftermath of the Upheaval

Following Ganondorf's revival in modern Hyrule, an occasion known as the Upheaval, Link once again finds himself awakening from a long sleep to discover the kingdom in dire straits. Though out of commission for a much shorter time than the 100-year coma of "Breath of the Wild," he learns that the Gloom has spread and that monsters roam the land. But it's not all bad news. The spirit of Rauru replaced Link's damaged arm with his own remaining appendage from the imprisoning ritual. Zelda, though still missing, also left behind clues, including her Purah Pad, to point the hero toward his destiny.

To challenge Ganondorf, Link must regain the power he lost during their first encounter by visiting Zonai shrines and helping the major tribes of Hyrule overcome regional issues. He collects the tears of a dragon during his travels, which reveal what happened to Princess Zelda and her transformation into the Light Dragon. He also uncovers that the original Sages have descendants, who they pass on their Secret Stones to so they can aid in the final conflict.

Rito Village and the neverending blizzard

Link follows rumors of a persistent storm to Rito Village in the Tabantha Region. There, he finds that the Rito face an impending famine because of a nonstop blizzard cutting off their access to supplies. Teba, the second-generation Champion who assisted Link in "Breath of the Wild," has taken over as the Rito Elder. Meanwhile, he has to contend with his hot-headed but well-meaning son, Tulin, who believes he can solve the blizzard problem all on his own.

After Link helps Tulin learn the value of teamwork, the pair sets out to investigate the storm cloud. Within it, they uncover the Wind Temple, housed within a legendary ship called the Stormwind Ark. The two proceed through the temple by calling on Tulin's special ability to create gusts of wind. After solving all of the requisite puzzles, Link and Tulin face off against the Colgera, a monstrosity summoned by Ganondorf that controls wind and cold.

The blizzard ends upon the Colgera's defeat. Tulin also receives the Secret Stone from his ancestor, taking up his mantle as the Sage of Wind and pledging to face Ganondorf alongside Link when the time comes. Thanks to this pledge, Link gains access to an avatar of Tulin capable of joining him in battle and utilizing his Power of Wind ability.

The muddy waters of Zora's Domain

Zora's Domain has its own troubles to deal with in the form of sludge that falls from the sky and contaminates the local water supply. This is bad news for the Zora, who can no longer fish or move around their home freely. They also have to contend with sludge monsters, which appear and strike suddenly, resulting in dangerous injuries. Such an encounter left King Dorephan in critical condition, forcing him to go into hiding.

After Link meets Yona, Prince Sidon's fiance, he tracks down his best bro, who has kept busy attempting to counteract the sludge. Yona eventually convinces her future husband to go with Link to look for the cause of the disaster, and they set out for another grand adventure. They trace the source of the sludge to the Great Wellspring, another sky island. Sidon helps Link solve a series of puzzles using his special variety of water bending. This culminates in an encounter with the Mucktorok, the muddy menace Ganondorf unleashed on the area.

Once the Mucktorok falls, the Zora have clean water once more. Sidon gets a Secret Stone and becomes the new Sage of Water, vowing to assist Link in his quest. The swordsman then gains access to the royal's avatar and a hydro shield. When the duo returns to Zora's Domain, King Dorephan celebrates their success by passing the crown onto his son. Sidon and Yona step up to rule together and Dorephan, healed of his wounds from the sludge, gleefully plans his post-retirement antics.

A mindless feast in Goron City

The situation has taken quite a sinister turn by the time Link arrives in Goron City. Many of the locals have grown addicted to a new delicacy called Marbled Rock Roast, choosing to eat it all day and night instead of doing any work or going about their lives. Yunobo, who assisted Link with Divine Beast Vah Rudania in "Breath of the Wild," has also fallen under a less than wholesome influence due to a mind-altering mask. Though once a promising entrepreneur and co-founder of the mining company YunoboCo, he has turned into a despot with a short fuse.

Despite Yunobo initially attacking the hero, Link manages to free him from the mask and they set off for Death Mountain. There, they try to catch up with what turns out to be Princess Zelda's evil doppelganger. The two take on a mini-boss together, putting Yunobo's special Charged Canonball ability to good use, before heading inside the volcanic crater. They discover the Fire Temple within and eventually battle Ganondorf's Marbled Gohma, the source of the Marbled Rock Roast.

The tainted rock vanishes after Yunobo and Link vanquish the Marbled Gohma, freeing the affected Goron. Yunobo claims his own Secret Stone and steps into the Sage of Fire role, allowing Link to summon his avatar and fire it at targes like an explosive cannonball. Yunobo returns home, where he and the others come to terms with what happened there due to the blighted allure of the Marbled Rock Roast.

Sands of death in Gerudo Town

Following the Upheaval, a sandstorm swept over much of the Gerudo region, rendering the desert unnavigable. It also forced the Gerudo to seek shelter underground, leaving the settlement above abandoned. During this time, the tribe's young chief, Riju, sought to gain mastery of her lightning powers, rightly assuming that it would play a role in solving the area's problems.

Once Link party crashes the Gerudo shelter, he helps Riju learn to channel her lightning. They, along with the rest of the inhabitants, take on a horde of Gibdos, undead insect-like creatures that appeared with the sandstorm, that threaten the town. By consulting an old mural and solving a riddle, Riju and Link manage to uncover the source of the incursion, which leads them to the Lightning Temple. There, they take down the Queen Gibdo, ending the sandstorm and the Gibdo threat in the process.

With the Queen Gibdo eliminated, Riju picks up her Secret Stone and steps into the shoes of the Sage of Lightning. From then on, her avatar joins Link in his travels, letting him assault the targets of his arrows with bolts of electricity. With conditions returned to normal, the Gerudo come out of hiding, reclaim their town, and reopen their businesses.

Uncovering the Fifth Sage and challenging Ganondorf

Once he has recruited Tulin, Sidon, Yunobo, and Riju, Link learns of the existence of another Sage. The hero follows this lead to an underground factory, where he encounters Mineru's spirit and assembles a construct for her to inhabit in battle. With the aid of Mineru and her mech, Link makes his way to the Spirit Temple, where he takes out the Seized Construct doing Ganondorf's bidding. Mineru gets her Secret Stone, reclaiming her status as the Sage of Spirit and letting Link call on her construct in future encounters.

Once he rounds up five of the six sages and obtains the Master Sword from the Light Dragon, Link has what he needs to face Ganondorf again. The group discovers that the Demon King has taken up residence in the Depths beneath Hyrule Castle and enters the underground to eliminate his forces. With his supporters out of the picture, Ganondorf must deal with the swordsman and the Sages solo.

The end of Ganondorf and a new beginning for Hyrule

Thanks to Link's presence on their new and improved team, the Sages get the best of Ganondorf this time around. Unwillingly to admit defeat, he swallows the Secret Stone he stole from Queen Sonia and turns into a corrupted dragon. The Light Dragon arrives on cue to help Link overcome this final challenge, and they destroy Ganondorf once and for all.

To prevent a bittersweet ending, the spirits of Sonia and Rauru appear, using their magic to restore Zelda to her Hylian form. The princess and her protector, along with Purah and the other Sages, later reconvene in the Temple of Time. Mineru, whose spirit has endured for thousands of years at this point, decides its time to say goodbye, leaving Hyrule under the watchful gazes of its fresh generation of protectors. The group looks to the future, intent on safeguarding their home from whatever dangers may arise.