I made this theory for the ZD Christmas Magazine, and I've decided to put the more detailed draft here. It might be a little less fun to read compared to my previous theory, but I hope you still find it interesting. Fingers are pointed. Hairs are pulled. Fans are divided. Why? Three words: the Zelda Timeline. Many arguments and theories have been posed surrounding Breath of the Wild's placement in Hyrule Historia's timeline, and we've yet to receive a solid answer from Nintendo. The only thing we have been told is that BotW takes place after Ocarina of Time and long after any of the three timelines: the Downfall, Child, and Adult Timelines. For this theory, we will go into brief on the arguments, make a connection to a sidequest in BotW, and draw a conclusion. According to HH, the final events in OoT split the timeline into three, which is why we can have a game where Hyrule is flooded (Wind Waker), a game where Hyrule is invaded by the Twili (Twilight Princess), and a game where Hyrule is transformed into the Dark World (A Link to the Past). Compelling arguments have been made for BotW being in each timeline since a plethora of evidence exists for each one. However, that is an issue in itself: all theories that try to place BotW in a specific timeline have contradicting evidence. For example, if I were to say that the game takes place in the Downfall Timeline because Cap of the Wild has a "yellow" stripe on its rim, that wouldn't explain why a carving of Darmani exists next to Daruk's in Goron City. BotW makes references to almost all the games on the timeline, so... what does this mean? Is there a key piece of evidence we missed? The game may have already given us the answer, and that answer is in the form of a sidequest: the Leviathan Bones sidequest. At the Serenne Stable, three scientists, Akrah, Onya, and Garshon, argue over what caused the extinction of the leviathans. Onya theorizes it was an ice age, Akrah says a volcanic eruption caused it, and Garshon proposes it was a cataclysmic drought. The player is tasked with finding evidence supporting the theories, which comes in the form of taking a picture of the leviathan remains. On their journey, the player takes a picture of three Great Skeletons: one near Death Mountain, one under the Hebra Mountains, and one in the outskirts of Gerudo Desert. Once the player shows all three scientists the images, they receive 300 rupees for their trouble. Each scientist is thrilled to have evidence supporting their theories, and all seems well. That is, until you stop and realize that the scientists are now doomed to engage in a neverending debate over the death of the Leviathans. Picture this: One says, "These leviathan bones were found near a volcano, so it must have been an eruption!" while the other objects, "But these bones were found in an ice cave, so that's impossible!" and then afterwards, "Clearly it was a drought because how else would you explain the bones found in the desert?" The way to resolve this would be to wear the Couple's Mask, but unfortunately, we're not playing Majora's Mask. Anyway, there's evidence supporting all of these arguments, but they contradict each other at the same time. Sound familiar? It should, because that's exactly what's happening with the debates around BotW's timeline placement. The Leviathan Bones side quest reflects these debates since it boils down to three arguments with contradicting evidence that supports them all. Perhaps this is Nintendo's way of saying this game's placement doesn't matter. It takes place thousands upon thousands of years after any game, so whether or not Hyrule was flooded, ruined, or prospering doesn't matter. It's a completely different Zelda game than anything we've seen, so perhaps all of this is pointless. Unless... ...A logical explanation can be made here. Let's go back to the Leviathan Bones sidequest. Since the remains were found near a volcano, an ice cavern, and a desert, it's implied that all three cataclysmic events happened at the same time. Otherwise, the land of Hyrule would be either one giant wasteland of ice, lava, or sand. What does this mean for BotW's timeline placement? Well, there's evidence that supports and contradicts all arguments, just like the arguments about the Leviathan Bones. If the sidequest reflects the debates, then they should reach the same conclusion: the conclusion that all of the events before BotW must have happened, and BotW doesn't exist in a singular timeline. All the lore bits and references to past games make sense if BotW exists in either a unified timeline or "an inevitability of all timelines." This is the part where people will probably yell Objection! and say "That doesn't make sense at all. It creates more uneeded issues and contradictions!" Yes, this would do that, but all those issues weren't on the BotW team's mind when making this game. Otherwise, they would've had to explain in-game how a volcanic eruption, an ice age, and a severe drought happened in the world of Hyrule and how it left everything else still intact. • • • You know, after writing this, I just had to look back at all the Zelda games and realize that they are all riddled with issues and unexplained plotholes. Why does Hyrule look so different in evey game? How come the Master Sword changes location in every game it's in? Hyrule Historia and its timeline does its best to explain and fill in these plotholes, but it doesn't get to all of them, and it also raises more questions. However, that's probably for the best. Each game is designed to be an adventure for the individual, and each adventure always has some mysteries and curiosities they may pick up on. That doesn't mean we shouldn't stop theorizing or that theorizing is pointless. I love making theories about my favorite series of all time, and the discussions about The Legend of Zelda are fun to participate in. It's another way to enjoy the games, which is what Nintendo intended when making them, especially BotW. On that note, I'm curious what you readers think about BotW and its timeline placement. Do you think it takes place in a single or unified timeline, or does the timeline placement not matter at all? Thank you for reading. This has been Ryuken, signing off. ...Wait a minute. Is that..? THEY STOLE MY THEORY. REPORTED. DEMONITIZED. BANNED. Nah, I'm just kidding. It's a really well-made BotW theory vid, perhaps my favorite one from the channel. You should go watch it. When I saw this video, I was surprised that NintendoBlackCrisis and Macintyre echoed my thoughts almost exactly, even reaching a similar conclusion. (which is AWESOME for a theorist like myself.) Remember when I said BoTW could take place in "an inevitability of all timelines?" I can't take credit for that statement, which is why I put quotations around it. I read through the comments of that video and stumbled across one by AgentChicken that was hearted by NBC, who agreed with it, and I can see why: Spoiler: Le Comment It might seem weirdly worded at first, but when you think about it, it supports the idea that BoTW's timeline placement doesn't matter. You may have heard people say "the future is already written," and when it comes to BoTW and its timeline placement, it's pretty clear that no matter what happened in the previous games before, 1) the Sheikah make the new and advanced Sheikah Tech, 2) Ganon/Ganondorf takes on the form of Calamity Ganon, and 3) the Rito, Zora, Goron, Gerudo, and Hylians come together to fight him. One can theorize and speculate as to HOW this happened from the 10,000 year gap between games, but at the end of the day, the game is what it is. So what do you guys think? Like before, I will do my best to respond to any criticism, rebuttals, and or thoughts you may have.