Kingdom Hearts Timeline, Explained

Quick Links

  • Kingdom Hearts X / Union X
  • Kingdom Hearts Dark Road
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep
  • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
  • Kingdom Hearts 2
  • Kingdom Hearts Coded
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
  • Kingdom Hearts 3
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 ReMind
  • Kingdom Hearts Melody Of Memory

Among the countless video game series, there might not be one as complicated yet fulfilling as Kingdom Hearts. Originating in 2002, Kingdom Hearts follows the story of Sora as he travels to various worlds inspired by Disney movies to battle an enemy known as the Heartless. The series gained tremendous popularity because of the unlikely pairing of Disney and Final Fantasy characters and has since spewed a total of 13 games across many different consoles.

Although the main plot can be understood by just playing the three main numbered installments, you'll need to play every entry to understand the overarching story of Kingdom Hearts fully. Unfortunately, certain games occur in many different time periods, so it might be difficult to figure out where each game fits in the story precisely. So, let's summon our Keyblades and use the light in our hearts to guide us through his journey as we break down the chronological order of the Kingdom Hearts series.

Kingdom Hearts X / Union X

Kingdom Hearts X and Union X are the prequels to the overarching Kingdom Hearts story. They take place before the first Keyblade War and are set in Daybreak Town. In X, after you create a custom Keyblade wielder, you join one of the five Foreteller factions. The Five Foretellers are ancient Keyblade users, trained by the Master of Masters: Aced, Gula, Ira, Ava, and Invi. They're given a book called the Book of Prophecies, which tells of a coming war – to prevent it, they must defeat the Heartless and collect pieces of light called Lux.

Union X takes place immediately after Kingdom Hearts X, as your custom character is being persuaded to join a faction. One of the faction leaders, Strelitzia, is killed by a mysterious figure, which prompts many of the other faction leaders to believe a traitor is amongst them. You're saved from the conflict by two other leaders, Ephemer and Skuld, and everyone is transported to a digital world – where their memories are erased. Including Ephemer and Skuld, three other new faction leaders replaced the Foretellers: Brain, Lauriam, and Ventus. Soon, darkness begins to take over the digital world and possesses Ventus. The Master of Masters reveals that everything that's transpired was his doing. At the end of the game, we see a baby Xehanort growing up on Destiny Islands and eventually appearing in Scala ad Caelum.

Kingdom Hearts Dark Road

Kingdom Hearts Dark Road follows the early years of Xehanort's life as he grew up on Destiny Islands and then traveled to Scala ad Caelum by way of a portal by Ansem, his Heartless from the future. Once he arrives in Scala ad Caelum, Xehanort begins training to become a Keybalde wielder under the direction of Master Odin. Alongside Eraqus, Xehanort and the other classmates are tasked with finding seven missing students in various worlds.

Since the Keyblade War, some of the worlds they travel to are shown not to be fully developed.

While exploring Wonderland, Xehanort and Eraqus believe that the missing students were lost in darkness. After four years, Xehanort decides to leave Scala ad Caelum and returns to Wonderland to learn more about the darkness. Before the game ends, we see Xehanort's heart being slowly consumed by the darkness.

Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep

Many years after Xehanort left Scala ad Caelum, Eraqus is now a Keyblade Master with his own students to train: Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. Instead of training them in Scala ad Caelum, the trio is training under Eraqus in the Land of Departure. When Terra and Aqua are taking their Mark of Mastery exams to achieve Keyblade Master status, Xehanort sabotages them, which forces Ventus to intervene. Aqua eventually passes her exam and becomes a Keyblade Master, but it's revealed that Terra has too much darkness in his heart and fails to become a Keyblade Master.

Eraqus begins receiving reports of an unknown enemy called the Unversed, terrorizing various worlds. Terra is sent to investigate but instead encounters Xehanort, who persuades him to embrace the darkness in his heart. Ventus tries to follow Terra against Eraqus' wishes, and the Keyblade Master sends Aqua to follow them. In their search, Aqua and Ventus arrive in Radiant Garden and meet Kairi – Aqua feels a strong light emanating from her heart and casts a charm on her for protection. They also confront Terra, who eventually takes them to Destiny Islands, where they meet Sora and Riku. Aqua and Terra believe the two young children will one day be Keyblade wielders.

Meanwhile, Ventus encounters Xehanort, who tells him his ultimate plan is to create a supreme weapon called the X-blade by using Ventus's heart. When Ventus goes back to the Land of Departure, Eraqus, who knew about Xehanort's plan the whole time, attempts to kill Ventus. Not knowing the whole situation, Terra attacks Eraqus to save Ventus, allowing Xehanort to kill Eraqus. Ventus discovers the truth that he and Vanitas were once of one body and that Vanitas represents the darkness in his heart. Terra, Aqua, and Ventus try to attack Xehanort and Vanitas in the Keyblade Graveyard but fail.

Terra becomes possessed by Xehanort, while Vanitas is able to merge with Ventus – this allows Xehanort to create the X-blade temporarily. With the help of Mickey Mouse, Aqua is able to destroy the X-blade, but everyone is scattered to various worlds. Mickey saves Aqua and Ventus in Yen Sid's tower, though Ventus has entered a deep sleep and won't awaken until his heart is restored.

Aqua encounters the possessed Terra in Radiant Garden and defeats him. A pool of darkness begins to swallow up Terra, but Aqua is able to save him – however, she's consumed and lost in the Realm of Darkness in the process.

Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage

This is where things might start to get a bit confusing. Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep 0.2: A Fragmentary Passage acts as an epilogue to Birth By Sleep and a prologue to Kingdom Hearts 3. Ultimately, it might be best to play Birth By Sleep 0.2 immediately before Kingdom Hearts 3, but it's not wrong to play it after Birth By Sleep.

In the mysterious tower, Yen Sid explains to Riku, Kairi, and King Mickey that they must gather the Seven Lights – special warriors to defeat Xehanort. He says that Terra, Aqua, and Ventus, the warriors who fell to Xehanort in the past, are among the seven warriors they need. At Yen Sid's instruction, Mickey tells Riku and Kairi how he encountered Aqua in the Realm of Darkness at the end of Birth By Sleep.

As Aqua, you must navigate your way through the Realm of Darkness. Throughout her travels, she has hallucinations of Terra and Ventus, as well as a real Xehanort who tries to trick her into telling him where Ventus is located. Mickey pulls Aqua from a pool of darkness and tells her it has been ten years since they last met, and he's looking for the Keyblade of the Dark Realm to seal Kingdom Hearts with Sora. They find the Keyblade, but while Mickey is helping Riku close Kingdom Hearts with Sora on the other side, Aqua is once again snatched back into the Realm of Darkness.

After Mickey finishes telling the story, Riku is upset that he wasn't told sooner so they could've tried to help Aqua. Yen Sid explains that neither he nor Mickey was powerful enough to save her, but they are now. Once they leave, we see Sora, Donald, and Goofy enter Yen Sid's chambers only to be given new instructions to regain the power of waking to defeat Xehanort, leading to Kingdom Hearts 3.

Kingdom Hearts

The game that started it all, Kingdom Hearts, follows the story of Sora, Riku, and Kairi, who all grew up on Destiny Islands. With dreams of exploring new worlds, Sora finds a hidden door and a cloaked figure who tells him about Kingdom Hearts. Shortly after, the island is attacked by strange creatures called Heartless and is consumed by darkness. After receiving the Keybalde, Sora battles against the Heartless and tries to find his friends. Riku, curious about where the dark portal leads, lets the darkness consume him, and Kairi is sucked into the now-opened hidden door.

Sora wakes up in a new world called Traverse Town. He meets Donald and Goofy, who were tasked by a missing King Mickey to seek the key to stop the darkness. Seeing Sora with the Keyblade, they believe he is the one they seek and swear to help him find his friends and locate King Mickey. The trio travels to many worlds, fighting against the Heartless and securing locking the worlds' Keyholes. Meanwhile, Riku has teamed up with Maleficient, who convinced him that Sora has replaced him and Kairi with Donald and Goofy and tells him she has the power to help Riku find Kairi.

Sora, Donald, and Goofy arrive in Hollow Bastion, the base of operations for Maleficent. He finds the brainwashed Riku, and they battle, ending with Sora losing the Keyblade to Riku. Because of their orders to follow the key, Donald and Goofy abandon Sora. However, Sora says that his true power comes from his friends and can re-summon the Keyblade and defeat Riku. Unfortunately, Riku is possessed by Ansem and reveals that Kairi's missing heart has actually been inside Sora this whole time.

After his defeat, Ansem flees to the End of the World, a place where the fragments of consumed worlds by the Heartless are found. Ansem believes darkness is the heart's true essence and that Kingdom Hearts is the source of all darkness. After a final battle, Ansem opens Kingdom Hearts, though he is surprised to see Light flowing through, killing him. With King Mickey and Riku's help on the other side, Sora seals Kingdom Hearts, but Kairi is once again missing. Sora vows to find her and he, Donald, and Goofy set off on another adventure to find their companions.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories

Taking place immediately after the first game, Chain of Memories follows Sora, Donald, and Goofy on their quest to find Kairi, Riku, and King Mickey. The trio is approached by Mickey's dog, Pluto, who guides them until they reach a fork in the path. They speak to a cloaked figure who guides them to Castle Oblivion. After entering the castle, the group finds themselves inexplicably in Traverse Town, and none of the people they encountered before remember who they are. When they "return" to the castle, they realize that many of their own memories are starting to erase, but they continue to progress through the castle anyway.

Sora's memories of Kairi become altered, and she's replaced by another girl named Namine. The group finds out the true enemy of Castle Oblivion is a group of cloaked figures called Organization 13. While their true motives aren't revealed, Namine explains she was ordered by a man called Marluxia to alter Sora's memories so he could take over the organization. Once Sora defeats Marluxia, along with many organization members, he, Donald, and Goofy are placed in a special machine that will restore their memories.

While Sora is battling in the castle, Riku awakens in the basement of Castle Oblivion. Throughout his journey, Riku also faces members of Organization 13, as well as the darkness in his heart. He fights visions of Ansem and a replica of himself, and as a result, he's able to find more control over the darkness inside him.

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

In what might be the strangest title of the series, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days steps away from Sora, Donald, and Goofy. Set in between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, the game follows the story of a new character named Roxas. Roxas is a member of Organization 13 and also Sora's Nobody. A Nobody is created when a person becomes a Heartless, an empty husk that no longer has a heart. Because Sora briefly turned into a Heartless in Kingdom Hearts, he had a Nobody created, which turned out to be Roxas.

The leader of Organization 13, Xemnas, found Roxas in Twilight Town. Xemnas is the Nobody of Xehanort, created while he possessed Terra. Xemnas tells Roxas that Organization 13 seeks to destroy the Heartless and collect hearts to summon Kingdom Hearts, so they themselves can retrieve their hearts and become complete beings. Shortly after Roxas joins the organization, they receive another new member in Xion. Both Roxas and Xion are trained under the watchful eye of Axel, and the three of them become close friends.

When most of the organization members head to Castle Oblivion for reasons unknown to Roxas, he and Xion spend more time together. Xion's appearance changes and resembles Kairi, and suddenly, Roxas falls into a comatose state. This occurs concurrently with Sora falling into his own sleep at the end of Chain of Memories. When Roxas awakens, he finds out that everyone except Axel was defeated at Castle Oblivion.

Roxas, Axel, and Xion begin spending time together, but eventually, Xion encounters Riku. He tells her that she's an imperfect replica of Roxas, just in case Sora becomes unusable to Xemnas after his memories are restored. Xion leaves the Organization, but Axel and Xigbar follow her to Wonderland. Xion defeats Xigbar but is then reprogrammed by Xemnas to absorb Roxas, which would result in Sora never waking up. As a result, Roxas has to defeat Xion, and she dies in his arms.

Roxas then confronts Riku because he blames him for Xion's fate, but Riku defeats Roxas by using the power of darkness and takes his body back to Ansem the Wise. Roxas's body is digitized and placed in a digital world of Twilight Town, where he wakes up and thinks everything was a dream. The ending of 358/2 Days leads directly into the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2.

Kingdom Hearts 2

The second major installment of the series, Kingdom Hearts 2, picks up immediately after 358/2 Days. Roxas wakes up in Twilight Town and is eager to hang out with his friends Hayner, Pence, and Olette, but begins to have dreams of Sora's memories. When investigating an old mansion, Roxas summons the Keyblade and defeats a group of Nobodies. Eventually, Roxas meets Axel and Namine, who tell him that he's a Nobody. With the help of Ansem (not the same Ansem as KH1), Roxas is told about his connection with Sora, who he merges with to finish the process of memory restoration.

After sleeping for a year, Sora, Donald, and Goofy wake up in Twilight Town with no recollection of the events from Chain of Memories. The trio visit Yen Sid and the wizard tells them about Organization 13 and how other worlds are under attack from the Heartless. They discover that Pete has teamed up with a resurrected Maleficent, and they also learn of the true connection between Ansem, Xehanort, and Xemnas.

Xemnas reveals he plans to create another door to Kingdom Hearts and restore the Nobodies. Sora finally learns the truth about Roxas and how he and Namine are he and Kairi's Nobodies. Sora and Riku unite and head to the World That Never Was to defeat Xemnas. After they succeed, Sora, Riku, and Kairi are sent back to Destiny Islands – but receive a letter from King Mickey that details their next adventure.

Kingdom Hearts Coded

Kingdom Hearts Coded runs concurrently with the second half of Kingdom Hearts 2. While reviewing his notes, Jiminy Cricket sees a note that says, "we must return to free them from their torment," and King Mickey decides to investigate. Mickey digitizes the journal into a simulated world, while at the same time, a digitized Sora wakes up. Under orders from Mickey, the digital Sora travels from world to world to defeat Heartless and find the journal.

Back in the real world, Heartless are attacking Disney Castle. Ultimately, everyone is saved by the digitized Sora, and the cloaked figure he was following in the digital world is the journal in the form of Riku. The journal tells them that they're actually not in the real world but in yet another digital world. In their attempt to escape, the journal is infected by Pete and attacks Sora. Sora defeats the journal, and Mickey returns to the real world. Unable to help Sora from the outside, Mickey heads back into the digital world and takes Sora to Castle Oblivion.

Another cloaked figure tells Sora that he must continue alone in the castle if he wants to know the truth. Sora attacks the figure, and it turns out to be Roxas; after defeating him, Roxas gives Sora a key to enter the castle. Sora finds Namine inside, and she explains that the bugs that are infecting the world were a side effect of her trying to restore Sora's memories. She tells him that Sora is the key to everything, and the tormented people who need their help are Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. With this new information, Mickey writes a letter to Sora, which is the same one that he opens with Riku and Kairi in Destiny Islands at the end of Kingdom Hearts 2.

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

Following the demise of Ansem and Xemnas at the hands of Sora and Riku in Kingdom Hearts 2, Xehanort is revived. Xehanort is once again determined to recreate the X-blade and fulfill his plans. While this is happening, Sora and Riku undergo the Mark of Mastery exams to become Keyblade Masters. They're separated and placed in seven worlds overrun by Dream Eaters, creatures that feed on the Keyholes of sleeping worlds. Throughout their exams, Sora and Riku encounter Ansem, Xemnas, and a younger Xehanort. The three of them teleport Sora and Riku to the World That Never Was.

The true purpose of Organization 13 is to provide vessels for multiple versions of Xehanort. Sora is on the verge of falling into darkness and becoming a clone of Xehanort himself until his heart is protected by Ventus's heart inside of him. Riku comes to Sora's aid and finds out that the Organization has created new clones for Xehanort, and he plans to use the new vessels to help recreate the X-blade and summon Kingdom Hearts.

After saving Sora from Xehanort, they transfer his body back to Yen Sid's tower. Riku has to enter Sora's body and help fight off the remaining darkness inside that affected him. When Sora awakens, only Riku is awarded the title of Keyblade Master because Sora almost fell to the darkness. In a secret ending, Yen Sid explains to King Mickey the history of the X-blade and the Keyblade War. He tells him of the Princesses of Light and that a fight against the 13 darkness users is inevitable. When Mickey says they still need one more guardian of light, Riku enters the room with Kairi behind him.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts 3 follows Sora seeking the guardians of light to help in the final confrontation against Xehanort. Because he was almost possessed by Xehanort in Dream Drop Distance, Sora's powers are gone and he must re-acquire his power of waking. While Sora embarks on his new journey with Donald and Goofy, King Mickey and Riku are searching the Realm of Darkness for Aqua, and Kairi and Lea are training as new Keyblade wielders.

Throughout his journey, Sora discovers that the hearts of Roxas, Ventus, and Xion all reside inside of him. Riku believes Organization 13 is creating more vessels and Sora uses his power to restore Roxas. At the same time, the evil Ansem kidnaps Ansem the Wise and takes him to the Realm of Darkness, where he also corrupts Aqua's heart. Riku and Mickey find Aqua and attempt to free her to no avail. It's only then that Sora finds Master Eraqus's Keyblade in the sand on Destiny Islands and uses it to create a portal to the Realm of Darkness. He uses the Keyblade to restore Aqua's heart, and they all return to the Realm of Light.

Aqua heads to Castle Oblivion and restores it back to the Land of Departure. By doing this, Ventus finally awakens from his deep sleep, which also brings back Vanitas. With the help of Ventus, the group's able to fend off Vanitas's attacks. With the seven Keyblade wielders, they head off to the Keyblade Graveyard but are met by an army of Heartless led by a possessed Terra. Ultimately, the guardians defeat the members of Organization 13, and Terra regains control of his body.

Xehanort destroys Kairi's body to finish recreating the X-blade, which prompts Sora to attack him. By using Xehanort's power of time, the group teleports back to Scala ad Caelum to have the final battle. After they defeat him, Eraqus's heart emerges from Terra's body and convinces Xehanort to surrender. Xehanort dies, and the spirits of him and Eraqus enter Kingdom Hearts. With the help of the other Keyblade wielders, Sora uses the X-blade to seal Kingdom Hearts.

Sora uses his power to revive Kairi's body, despite the warnings that he might lose his heart in the process. Sora's able to restore Kairi but disappears after they all return to Destiny Islands.

Kingdom Hearts 3 ReMind

Kingdom Hearts 3 ReMind describes Sora trying to restore Kairi's body at the end of Kingdom Hearts 3. He travels back in time through the hearts of the guardians of light but ultimately fails to save her. King Mickey tells Sora that Xehanort hid the broken fragments of her heart, and if he finds them, he can restore her. Sora finds five of the fragments in Scala ad Caelum before the last battle against Xehanort and then finds the other two with Riku and Mickey fighting against replicas of Xehanort. With Kairi restored, she and Sora travel to the Final World and help restore Namine's heart before returning to Destiny Islands.

The Limitcut episode of the DLC is set one year after Sora's disappearance. His friends are still looking for him, but aren't having much luck. Kairi volunteers to digitize herself in an experiment with Ansem the Wise to find him. While she's unconscious, Riku meets with Yen Sid, and the wizard thinks maybe Sora can be found through the memories of Riku, Kairi, and this other mysterious girl Sora met in the Final World.

The Secret episode focuses on Sora during his disappearance. He's trapped in the Final World and encounters Yozora, who Sora recognizes from the video game in the Toy Story-inspired world called Verum Rex. Yozora says he was sent to save Sora but challenges him to a fight in Shibuya. Regardless of who wins, Yozora wakes up in a car, and both he and Sora say that nothing makes sense.

Kingdom Hearts Melody Of Memory

Kingdom Hearts Melody of Memory continues to follow Kairi on her journey to find Sora. When she falls into a comatose state in the ReMind DLC, she explores her memories to try and find clues as to where Sora can be. She witnesses a memory from her childhood in Radiant Garden where Xehanort, while an apprentice to Ansem the Wise, unleashed Heartless to try and find her.

When she finds herself in the Final World, she encounters Xehanort. He's impressed by her skills with the Keyblade but defeats her in the end. Before he deals the final blow, Sora suddenly takes her place and fights back against Xehanort. Xehanort believes he knows where Sora might be and tells Kairi the same thing he told her when she was a child: "if failed, Kairi would end up in a world that is neither light nor darkness, but on the other side."

Kairi awakens and tells Ansem the Wise what Xehanort told her. Although Ansem admits this is beyond his comprehension, he concludes there must be an opposite reality of their own and surmises that it must be where Sora is located. Riku tells them of his discovery with the Fairy Godmother of the three keys needed to find Sora, and Kairi agrees to help. They're transported to the Final World and meet the Nameless Star, a girl who previously met Sora. She explains that she came from the world on the other side and that her body was stolen. Through this girl, Riku is able to use his power to create a portal to the world called Quadratum.

King Mickey wishes to help in the search for Sora, but Yen Sid has other plans for him. His former master tells him the tale of the Ancient Keyblade wielders and how they themselves might've been lost to this world on the other side. He instructs Mickey to investigate this world and informs everyone else to stop their search for Sora. Kairi continues to train as a Keyblade wielder, but this time with Aqua as her teacher.

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