Pokemon Game Timeline Theory Outline
Before we start, I should note that this timeline theory will only cover the mainline games from Red/Green/Blue/Yellow to Scarlet & Violet, if you want a timeline including the spin-off games, let me know and I can work on that.
Since Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire’s post-game the fact that two timelines exist in Pokemon, as stated by Zinnia, a member of the Draconid Tribe and a major character in said post-game. I will post the relevant quote:
"My people know it. From generation to generation, we pass along the lore about the distortions in the world borne by the Mega Evolution mechanism. And about the existence of another world, which we have long observed to be just like this one and yet not the same... That's right. A Hoenn region that's almost exactly like this one we live in. Filled with Pokémon and people like us. A world where maybe the evolution of Pokémon took a slightly different path, where Mega Evolution is unknown... A world where that war 3,000 years ago...never happened. A world where the ultimate weapon was never even built. And in that Hoenn of that world... What would happen if one day, out of the blue, a meteoroid appeared? What would happen to the people of that world, without the technology to destroy the meteoroid or the power to warp it away? ... Looks like it's beyond the power of your imagination."
The other Hoenn she was referring to is an obvious reference to the original Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, the original Hoenn games. The firing of the Ultimate Weapon refers to the Kalos War that was 3,000 years ago in the backstory of Pokemon X and Y. It’s also important to note that the firing of the Ultimate Weapon is at least part of the origin of Mega Evolution. This led fans to dub the two timelines the Mega Evolution timeline and the non-Mega Evolution timeline.
I actually believe that this is a misunderstanding of the key difference between the timelines. To go back to Zinnia’s quote:
“...A world where maybe the evolution of Pokémon took a slightly different path…” Every game from X & Y onward had one major difference from the games that came before: The existence of the Fairy-type. I actually believe there are more than two timelines (Actually, a lot more, but I want to keep this in broad strokes) so let’s start with the two generally accepted timelines, which I will call the Fairy timeline and the Advanced timeline.
Let’s start with the Advanced timeline, as it is the easiest to understand. A 2014 tweet from Toshinobu Matsumiya, the scenario writer from Pokemon Yellow to Sword and Shield made a now deleted tweet that gave us a starting point.
The tweet revealed that the Kanto and Hoenn games were happening concurrently and that the Johto and Sinnoh games happen roughly at the same time and the Johto games take place three years after Kanto. So the timeles of the first four generations look like this FireRed/LeafGreen/Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald -> HeartGold/SoulSiver/Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. Now obviously there would be sub branches with each game being a separate universe, but like I said I’m keeping this broad strokes. Though the games lean toward Platinum being the “true” version of the Sinnoh events as evidenced by a quote from Cynthia after defeating her in the Black and White post-game:
“That was beyond my expectation! What an exceptional battle! You certainly bear a resemblance to that Trainer who faced Giratina…” So we’ll go with Platinum as canon going forward. We have Black and White after Sinnoh/Johto, and its direct sequels Black 2 and White 2 take place two years later.
So we have an Advanced timeline that looks like this so far:
FireRed/LeafGreen/Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald -> Platinum/Heartgold/SoulSilver -> Black/Wite -> Black 2/White 2. We’ll come back to the Advanced timeline later, but in order to make things make sense we have to move on the Fairy timeline.
We know that Mega Evolution as well as the Fairy-type are key indicators of a game being in this timeline. As it just so happens, we have Kanto and Hoenn games with these features that follow the same general events of their advanced timeline counterparts. Those being Let’s go Pikachu and Eevee and Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire respectively. Of course Red isn’t the protagonist of these Kanto games, and apparently had his journey earlier without taking out Team Rocket, but still shows up later as a Legendary Trainer, but that’s fine.
We also have a Sinnoh game to fit into this timeline in the form of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. There has been no Johto or Unova games released in the Fairy timeline, though we do know both regions exist within it and some version of their events likely happened given things like Colress knowing Ghetsis in the Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon Rainbow Rocket post-game. Now we turn to X & Y, the previously mentioned tweet from Toshinobu Matsumiya placed X & Y concurrent with Black 2/White 2. So we can confidently place these games after Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl.
Again, we turn to the presence of Colress in the Alola games to place them after Black 2/White 2 and thus X & Y. We can infer that the Galar games Sword and Shield are after the Alola games because of Type: Null being first created in the Alola region and this Pokedex entry in Pokemon Sword:
Pokédex from Sword: Rumor has it that the theft of top-secret research notes led to a new instance of this Pokémon being created in the Galar region.
And then Scarlet/Violet take place some sometime after the Galar games. With Legends Arv\ceus taking place some centuries prior to Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl in the Fairy timeline So, the Fairy timeline looks like this so far:
Legends Arceus -> Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee!/ Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire -> Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl/ some version of the Johto games -> Some version of Blac/White -> X & Y/ Some version of Black 2/White 2 -> Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon -> Sword/Shield -> Scarlet/Violet.
Now, here’s where things get complicated because we actually have to go backwards in time. We know the Advanced timeline and Fairy timeline diverged 3,000 years ago when the ultimate weapon was built and fired, so we have to take into account certain things that happened before that divergence that will add games to the Advanced timeline.
From the classes in Scarlet and Violet we know the Great Crater of Paldea, where the Terastal phenomenon originates, was formed 1,000,000 years ago. So, it would still happen in the Advanced timeline. The same with the arrival of Eternatus in the Galar region, which happened 20,000 years prior. The story of Alola involving wormholes as it does would be unaffected by the ultimate weapon, and some version of Legends Arceus likely happened as well, as we see the Temple of Sinnoh become the Ruins that would later be known as Spear Pillar in that game. So the only game we can conclusively say didn’t happen in the Advanced timeline are X & Y because of the lack of the Ultimate Weapon, which is key to the plans of Team Flare.
So, the Advanced timeline looks like this:
A version of Legends Arceus -> FireRed/LeafGreen/Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald -> Platinum/Heartgold/SoulSilver -> Black/White -> Black 2/White 2 -> a version of Sun/Moon/Ultra/Sun/Ultra Moon -> a version of Sword/Shield -> a version of Scarlet/Violet
Now those of you paying attention may have noticed that I haven’t placed the original Kanto and Johto games Red/Blue/Green/Yellow and Gold/Silver/Crystal on either the Advanced or Fairy timelines. That’s for one very simple reason: I believe they’re their own separate universes, and yes I said universes.
Let’s start with original Kanto games as that’s the easiest to explain Like the pre-X & Y games lack the Fairy-type Red/Blue/Green/Yellow lack two other types: Steel and Dark. This is especially egregious with the Steel-type because of Magnemite and Magneton, someone would have realized they were weak to fire. Not to mention several other evolutions and pre-evolutions of Kanto Pokemon they should know exist. I can’t say definitively when the Advanced and Fairy timelines diverged from this one, but I think we can safely say Legends Arceus didn’t happen here or more Pokemon would be known in Kanto. For now I have to place them in their own universe.
Gold/Silver/Crystal are a little harder as they are obviously connected to the Kanto games, specifically Yellow baked on Re’d team, but they have Steel and Dark-types. They also have a machine that allows them to trade across space and time with the original Kanto games created by Bill that doesn’t exist in the Advanced timeline. My best guess is that the Time Capsule is something like an artificial Ultra Wormhole, that lets them trade between universes. Ultra Wormholes do allow movement between universes, as seen with Hoenn Frontier Brain Annabel who fell through an Ultra Wormhole in the Advanced Timeline and ended up in the Fairy timeline in the Alola games.
So, we have four general timelines:
The Red/Blue/Green/Yellow timeline
The Gold/Silver/Crystal timeline, which goes like this:
A version of Yellow -> Gold/Silver/Crystal
The Advanced timeline:
Aversion of Legends Arceus -> FireRed/LeafGreen/Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald -> Diamond/Pearl/Platinum (most likely Platinum)/HeartGold/SoulSiver -> Black/White -> Black 2/White 2 -> a version of Sun/Moon/ Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon -> A version of Sword/Shield -> a version of Scarlet/Violet
The Fairy timeline:
Legends Arceus -> Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee/Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire -> a version of the Johto games/BDSP -> A version of Black/White -> a version of Black 2/White 2/X&Y -> Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon -> Sword/Shield -> Scarlet/Violet.