For oh so long, the secret of the Zelda timeline has been fiercely guarded by Nintendo ninjas. It was presumed that no one would ever know the truth and ceaseless conflict of “Split Timeline” vs. “Multiple Timeline” would continue in such a way as the old “Multiple Link Theory” and “Single Link Theory” once did. Well, thanks to a crew of cutthroat pirates and a lemur named ‘Moe’, the truth has been obtained and the truth MUST be revealed. I give you - The Triforce of Time Theory.
The first thing that must be understood is that time is not always a straight line. There are certain points in history in which the timeline can be bent. If the timeline is bent in certain ways, then it can close in on itself. This creates a time loop in which history perfectly repeats itself, and those involved have no idea that time is doing so.
In Hyrule, time has three corners. Three corners has its time. And had it not three corners, it would not be…
The Triforce of Time Theory (TToTT)
A diagram aquired during the pirate raid. What are these “good things” I wonder?
It all started when the Hero of Time, Link, was born. Or at least, this event was one corner, arbitrarily considered to be the one in the lower left, and consequently, by the rules of English writing, the first. More accurately, this event marked the first convergence of two sides of the Triforce of Time.
In any case, the Hero of Time was born. His mother, Princess Zelda, held ancient future knowledge of the whereabouts of the Triforce of Courage, and her jealous brother demanded it from her. Meanwhile, war broke out in Hyrule. In the strife that followed, she deposited her son with the Great Deku Tree, who raised him as a Kokiri. Zelda herself, as told in the Adventure of Link back-story, was put to sleep by a wizard in her brother’s employ. The spell was such that, although the wizard certainly had not planned it this way, Zelda slept backwards through time, rejuvenating as she did so. This will be explained in due time.
Eventually, Ganon came to Hyrule. Link then became involved in the familiar plot of Ocarina of Time. With Ganon sealed in a prison that transcended time, Link was free to relive those seven years in the comfort of the Kokiri woods. In fact, he resided there much longer than seven years, and prolonged exposure to Deku Tree magic, along with the rejuvenating spell of the young Princess Zelda (not the same as the sleeping Zelda) had the permanent effect of causing Link to age very slowly, even after leaving the Kokiri forest.
Link then was lured into Termina by the Skull Kid. There, he saved Termina, and in a feat of dramatic irony completely failed to realize that just as Termina was locked in a time loop to prevent its own destruction, Hyrule was in a much larger time triangle to prevent its salvation. This was not lost on Tingle, as shall be shown.
Due to the unpredictable nature of inter-dimensional travel, when Link left Termina, he found that Hyrule had long ago been destroyed and was now a mere system of islands. (Not that he remembered Hyrule. Link was a chronic amnesiac.) He was adopted by a kindly old woman, who took mercy on this homeless piece of driftwood. He lovingly referred to her as “grandmother” and partook of her excellent soup. Soon enough, Link found himself on a pirate ship on a quest to save his sister. Soon enough after that, he was on a quest to stop Ganon from stealing the Triforce.
The King of Red Lions and Jabun explicitly stated that this Link was not the Hero of Time. Boy were they wrong.
Anyway, Link defeated Ganon, but not entirely. Ganon, the Villian of Time, had the favor of the goddesses. It was their wish for Hyrule to be lost beneath the sea. Here, the timeline would have straightened. However, King Hyrule’s final wish was for hope for Hyrule. That hope could only be achieved in one way: by repairing the past.
After thinking about how to accomplish this, the Triforce yanked Link from the new land he would have settled and dropped him at the doorstep of a friendly knight of Hyrule centuries earlier. The knight took in the boy with no memory, and Link became fond of him, and called him his uncle.
Unbeknownst to Link, he had arrived in Hyrule just before Ganon had freed himself to wreak the havoc that resulted in the flooding of Hyrule. As chronicled in Link to the Past, Link averted this disaster by preventing Ganon from ever escaping the Dark World. This completed the right-hand corner of the triangle.
Link’s uncle became a blacksmith, and on the day he sprouted his first grey hair, Link began to call him “grandpa.” Having already forgotten the events of LttP, Link embraced the power of the Four Sword to defeat the upstart wizard Vaati, with the aid of his new ally: The Minish Cap.
Thereafter, Link began to wonder why he did not age like the other people of Hyrule. As if to prevent him from realizing who he was, the Triforce intervened and sent him on a quest in the distant lands of Holodrum and Labrynna. Distant in the future, that is.
The Oracle games constitute another corner of the Triforce of Time. Had Link not prevented the resurrection of Ganon, Ganon would have again succeeded in straightening the timeline, and many a good thing would have failed to happen.
After bending time once more, and forgetting who he was once more, Link used the Four Sword to defeat Vaati again. Twice. The second time, he encountered Ganondorf for the first time. That is to say, Ganon was born on this side of the triangle.
After this, Link engaged in his ancient hobby of sailing. He was summarily shipwrecked. The goddesses had sent a vicious storm in their anger at having their timeline turned into a triangle. Their plan failed, however, and Link found himself in the mind of the Wind Fish, where he defeated the Nightmare, as shown in Link’s Awakening. The Wind Fish, however, had slumbered for centuries from the point of view of Hyrule, and by the time he awoke, and consequently by the time Link returned to reality, centuries had passed.
Hyrule had changed so much that Link could hardly consider himself a citizen of it, even if he had known who or where he was. His first action here was saving an old woman named Impa from a group of Moblins. He was begged to collect pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom and defeat Ganon, which he gladly did, since he didn’t really have much going on at the moment. (The Legend of Zelda)
He then went on to awaken the sleeping Princess Zelda, who after her slumber back through time was a young woman again. (The Adventure of Link)
Link married Zelda and helped rebuild Hyrule. Nine months later, the timetrangle converged, and Link was born. Finally Link’s amnesia left him, for he remembered who he was—his own father! His life-long defense mechanism could no longer protect him from the truth. Link became obsessed with fairies, slouched until his height diminished, gained a few pounds, and adopted the name “Tingle,” after the sensation he constantly felt when an old memory came to him.
He resolved to spare himself from the pain and suffering that he had experienced, and chased his son, hoping to hinder his every quest with minor annoyances, such as charging too much for maps or distracting him with entertaining games like “hammer tag.”
However, Tingle could not jump forward in time, and experiencing the entire history of Hyrule took its physical toll. Between the Four Swords Adventure and the Legend of Zelda, Tingle finally died of insanity and insanely old age.
Explanation of Tingle’s ‘brothers’.
Sometime between Majora’s Mask and Link to the Past, Tingle came across the Four Sword. He used it and split into four Tingles. They remained separated and kept the Four Sword, calling themselves the Tingle brothers (Tingle, Ankle, Knuckle, and David Jr.). They toured Hyrule, annoying Link at every opportunity until sometime between FSA and LoZ. During this time period, Tingle and his brothers died inside the Pyramid of Power in the Dark World. It may have been due to old age, but seppuku is an equally likely cause of death.
But Tingle did not entirely die. Since he was still split, the Magic of the Four Sword kept his spirit alive. His ghost(s) remained in Hyrule (and reverted his younger appearance).
They remained in the Pyramid of Power until the time of LttP GBA. When Link entered the sanctuary, Tingle realized that he wouldn’t be trapped as a ghost if he died before he ever back Tingle. So the Tingle Brothers tried to kill Link as a final attempt to defeat fate.
Fate would not be cheated, however, and Link defeated the Four Tingles, finally laying his own spirit to rest.
Meanwhile, Link took the pieces of the Four Sword to the Dwarven Smithies, the Picori Brothers. The Picoris repaired the sword and gave it to Hyrule’s royal family, who called it the Picori blade. (Note: The Four Sword, like Link, has a lifespan which spans more than a single iteration of the timeline.)
Editor’s Note: This document has given rise to many questions. For the sake of those present, I’ve included some of the more notable ones.
Q: Is the Triforce of Time a physical object like the other Triforces? Triforci?…Trifair?…
A: Not at all. Since the timeline of Hyrule is in fact, triangular, and this theory is golden, we felt “Triforce of Time” was a fitting way to describe it.
Q: Was there a timeline in which Tingle did not appear? I mean, is there an “original” time loop?
A: Probably not. After all, realizing he would become Tingle was half of what drove Link to the madness that caused him to become Tingle in the first place. You’d do the same thing, trust me.
Q: So you’re saying Zelda slept backwards in time? How does that work, exactly?
Q: By Din, how many freaking Zeldas are there, anyway?
A: In a given loop, there are roughly one Zelda per two games. Zelda is a glitch in the Triforce of Time, and is repeatedly reincarnated as an identical person. A similar effect occurs with other figures, no doubt due to the inherent instability of a triangular timeline.
Q: Ganon is born AFTER his first appearance. What the hell?
A: The starting point of the loop is arbitrary. We chose to focus on Link’s life. One could just as easily begin the loop with the birth of Ganon, since both are figures who traveled along all three corners. However, then Link would seem to be born after his first appearance. Clearly, thinking of time as linear won’t get us very far.
Q: Link is his own daddy? But…isn’t that…?
A: An Oedipus complex? Yeah.Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by Masamune
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