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When Does Tears of the Kingdom Take Place? How It Complicates Zelda Canon

Lost in time.

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Zelda in Tears of the Kingdom with the Master Sword
The Ultimate Guide to 'Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom'

The Legend of Zelda franchise doesn’t have the most straightfoward timeline. The games jump around and with only a couple of exceptions, there aren’t usually sequels. That changed with the arrival of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is explicitly a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The same formula used in Breath of the Wild is taken even further in Tears of the Kingdom, and while it’s easy to see this game takes place years after Link’s 2017 open-world adventure, many fans are wondering where both of these games fit into the wider narrative. It’s complicated, but we’ll break it down for you.

When Does Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Take Place?

Although TotK does take place after the events of BotW, the game’s story doesn’t specify an exact amount of time that’s passed. At the start of TotK, Zelda and Link are exploring ancient ruins, and long story short Link ends up incapacitated for another unspecified amount of time.

Tears of the Kingdom’s story takes place directly after Breath of the Wild, but certain flashbacks are in the distant past.


Based on the way Hyrule has changed and conversations with NPCs, it seems like TotK likely takes place roughly 2-3 years after BotW. Most of the landmarks are the same and major characters remember Link but remark that they haven’t seen him in a while.

That being said, part of TotK’s story dives into the ancient past of Hyrule, thousands of years before the events of the main game. So, certain cutscenes will be taking place long before both BotW and TotK.

When Is Tears of the Kingdom on the Zelda Timeline?

Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom take place long after the rest of the franchise.


The Zelda timeline has always been a bit convoluted, and never really mattered because of how standalone each game feels. In 2011 Nintendo released a book called The Hyrule Historia, which gave us our first look at the “official” timeline that splits the series into three branches. You can see the full image of the timeline at the Zelda Wiki.

Interestingly, however, BotW seemingly takes place after every other game in the franchise. This is based on info from the behind-the-scenes book The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Creating a Champion, which states all events before the backstory of BotW has “faded to myth.”

This means that TotK is the furthest we’ve ever been in the franchise’s timeline, and conceivably the flashback scenes still take place after the rest of the series. The big question now is where the series goes from here, but that’s anyone’s guess. The “timeline” has never heavily factored into Zelda before now, and it’s unlikely it will in the future.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is out now for Nintendo Switch.

“It's dangerous to go alone!” Check out more of Inverse’s Tears of the Kingdom coverage:

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