Is ‘Tears of the Kingdom’ a Prequel to the First Ever Zelda Game? Lore Experts Think So

Link falling jumping towards the camera from a floating island in Tears of the Kingdom.

A new theory suggests the “Tears of the Kingdom” timeline isn’t just a sequel to “Breath of the Wild”, but also a prequel to “Skyward Sword”. Buckle up, because we’re about to dive into some hardcore Zelda lore.

Zelda lore expert Zeltik is the original source of the theory as far as we can tell. In a video titled “Tears of the Kingdom: the end of Zelda?”, Zeltik points out that the game’s logo is an ouroboros — an ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail that represents an endless loop or an eternal cycle of rebirth. He believes this is a clue for Zelda’s storyline in “Tears of the Kingdom”. It might also represent the entire Zelda timeline, Zeltik suggests. Here’s where the hardcore lore dump comes in…

The Zelda Timeline, Explained

The official Zelda timeline is split into three branches — the Fallen Hero timeline, the Child timeline, and the Adult timeline. Every timeline begins with “Skyward Sword”, with the split taking place at the end of “Ocarina of Time”. The rest of the games in the series fall under one of these timelines. “Majora’s Mask”, for instance, is the first game in the Child timeline. “Link’s Awakening” is set in the Fallen Hero timeline, while “The Wind Waker” takes place in the Adult timeline.

So, which timeline does “Breath of the Wild” belong to? The slightly confusing answer is: all of them! Canonically, it takes place at the end of every timeline, which shouldn’t be possible in a time-breaking-paradox kind of way. The in-lore explanation is that “Breath of the Wild” takes place so long after the events of the previous games that they’ve passed into myth. When Link awakens at the start of “BOTW”, it’s impossible to know what’s history and what’s fairy tale. But Zeltik posits that the Zelda timeline is a cycle bookended by “Skyward Sword” and “Tears of the Kingdom”.

Is Demise the Real Villain of the “Tears of the Kingdom” Timeline?

This theory also suggests that the demon king Demise will be the real villain of “TOTK”, not Ganondorf. A TikTok by @zeldatendo suggests: “At the end of ‘Skyward Sword’, the villain Demise curses everyone to a cycle without end and promises to return. With Ganon giving up on reincarnation at the end of ‘Breath of the Wild’, it allows Demise to finally return in ‘Tears of the Kingdom’ to start the cycle anew.”

He continues: “This makes sense because all the branches of the Zelda timeline eventually converge into the event of ‘Breath of the Wild’.”

Demise is an important part of Zeltik’s theory, too; his return may explain the floating islands we’ve seen in the trailers for TOTK. “This could be supported by the sudden appearance of floating islands above Hyrule, which obviously calls back to Skyloft and the islands above the clouds in ‘Skyward Sword’,” he points out. “These were raised by the goddess Hylia in order for Hylians to escape from Demise and his armies on the surface. Could these sky islands be the very same?”

Is “Tears of the Kingdom” the Last Zelda Game?

Even if this theory is true, it doesn’t mean it’s the end for the series. With the Zelda timeline repeating itself forever, there are endless opportunities for new games and whatever other direction Nintendo wants to take it in.

Of course, nothing is official until Nintendo says so, but this theory has many Zelda fans returning to the lore videos in anticipation of “Tears of the Kingdom”. It comes out on May 12, and you can find the cheapest copies here. Pre-orders for the collector’s edition are also live and selling out fast.

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